"The goal of this paper is to demonstrate the survival merit of spatial and cultural settings when they manage to retain a high degree of controversial elements. This in turn would quarantee the possibility of adaption through continous transformation. The notion could be directly applicable to urban design situations where planners usually fail to recognize the importance of change. As a paradigm, this paper attempts to explore the fascinating interrelationship of ethical and cultural principles epitomized in a debate that raged in the 8Os, concerning the transformation through planning intervention of a central block in Athens. The property is owned by Arsakeion, an old venerated educational institution in Greece, established in 18... • In brief, the block (a donation) originally held three individual buildings, dedicated to tear down the lesser two of its buildings, construct a "passage" cutting through the middle of the block and create a continous front of shops and offices on all four sides of it. Another major change occured in the '30s when part of the original Arsakeion building was demolished to construct the cinema "Orpheus". In the postwar period, one-storey shops were added on the street side of the original Arsakeion building and later on an underground pocket theatre was designed underneath "Orpheus", where the K. Koun troup staged many memorable performances. The Arsakeion block started declining in the 70s and in 198... the institution decided to upgrade its derelict piece of real estate and commissioned DEPOS, a public planning agency, to undertake the project. A. S. Kaligas, an architect well versed in the demands of intervening on buildings, was then selected to come up with a design proposal. Aside from upgrading the "passage" and the 1900 addition, the plan proposed the demolition of "Orpheus" cinema. (no longer profitable), the reconstruction of part of the original Arsakeion building, the restoration of K. Kouns theatre (a landmark of central Athens cultural life), and the construction of a new commercial center overlooking an inner court. In examining this paradigm, our intent is to trace the tenacity in the face of chage of such unresolved issues as ideological status vs. economic survival or profitability of an institution; ideological justification vs. "serving the capital" policy in the rehabilitation of declining areas; manipulation of "public opinion" by the press vs. public concern for civic affairs."