Cities are perhaps mankind’s greatest invention.
They are the engines of commerce and
the well-springs of culture.
Being the eco-system that best suits the frail-bodied, clever and ever-social homosapien, they are the cradles of civilization. When successful, cities create enormous prosperity, but like mankind itself, they are far from perfect. What our vision, ingenuity and optimism create in one generation, our excesses, egos and short-sightedness can destroy in the next.
History is replete with urban boom-and-bust stories. Casco Viejo, where Conservatorio was founded, is a classic example. In four decades it went from being Panama City’s thriving heart to the city’s most violent neighborhood. But even as it decayed, it retained its essential elements – walkability, character and central location – making it ripe for revitalization.
Conservatorio’s founders recognized that bringing Casco back required more than just a business plan; it required a holistic approach.
They saw Casco Viejo as an urban eco-system where all of the buildings and people were interrelated. They asked what each restored building added to the whole—and what the displacement of existing uses took away—and understood that the particular people and uses that occupied each, especially in those early days, could greatly affect the future trajectory of the neighborhood, and therefore had to be well thought out.