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Preservation's tangible qualities are the source of its greatest strength and responsibility. At the same time, the essential materialism of preserved places has led preservationists to steward these objects of preservation desire as if they are ends in themselves, often sapping preservation's vitality, relevance, and civic promise. Preservationists believe in the power of buildings and yet they regulate these very buildings in ways that short circuit the essential links between historic places, heritage, politics, and the future. This essay explores the curatorial conundrum through a series of case studies and proposes an alternative approach to Design + Heritage.