Fall Historic Preservation Course Descriptions
Historic Preservation Theory & Practice
This lecture course is an introduction to historic preservation theory and practice, as it developed in the West, from the Enlightenment to the present moment of globalization. We will focus especially on how preservation theories and experimental practices helped to redefine and advance new conceptions of architecture, cities and landscapes. Historic preservation is often described as a young discipline, on account of the fact that most of its current institutions and legal frameworks were created in the late twentieth century. But many of the foundational ideas and practices that gave rise to contemporary historic preservation have much deeper historical roots. For instance, our contemporary notion of world heritage can be traced back to the dawn of international law in the mid 18th century. The present practice of maintaining registries of listed monuments also has historic precedents in 16th century Rome. We will touch upon the histories of these and other theories and practices, identifying key figures, texts, and projects. We will also examine the birth and legacy of different schools of historic preservation. Many of these schools took form during the nineteenth century, together with the rise of republicanism, nationalism, imperialism, and capitalism, and during the twentieth century, variously framed by fascism, communism, internationalism and the welfare state. We will focus on understanding the relationship between historic preservation and the social, political and economic context in which it acquired currency and value. Finally, we will ask questions about how theory and practice relate to one another, and how a solid grasp of the discipline's history can help us articulate new ways of thinking and doing historic preservation.
Introduction to Architectural Materials
This course is the first in a two-semester sequence and focuses on historic architectural materials (stone, brick, terra cotta, metal, concrete, cast stone, mortar, paint, wood). The course model is to explore: sourcing and production of the materials, identification, use in the fabrication of architectural elements, basic properties that limit or allow their use and performance as architectural materials. This course also serves as the foundation for the subsequent material-based conservation courses such as: 1. Architectural Metals, 2. Concrete, Cast Stone and Mortar, 3. Brick, Terra Cotta and Stone, 4. Architectural Finishes in America, and, 5. Wood.
American Architecture I
This course will examine the development of American architecture beginning with the earliest European settlements and culminating in the creative work of Henry Hobson Richardson and his peers in the late 19th century. Beginning with the earliest Spanish, French, Dutch, and English colonial architecture, we will explore the American adaptation of European forms and ideas and the development of a distinctly American architecture. The course lectures and readings examine high style and vernacular architecture in rural and urban environments throughout the settled parts of the United States. The course will be supplemented with walking tours and the examination of original drawings and early architectural publications in Avery Library.
Preservation Studio I: Reading Buildings
Studio I is the core course of the first semester, and revolves around the study of a section of New York City – in this academic year, the study area is Yorkville between East 79th and East 86th streets. Additional field survey work will be carried out at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. The goal of this Studio is to give the student the skills to read and document buildings – their design, their context, and their history – by using a wide array of tools, from using one’s eyes and other senses to using drawing, photography, and research. Studio I gives students the foundation necessary to understand and document buildings, to place them in their cultural continuum, and to make a case for their preservation. Studio work includes graphic presentations, written assignments and oral presentations.
Stained Glass Conservation
This 4-week intensive seminar will prepare students to do condition reports on 19th- and 20th-century stained-glass windows. The first two weeks, we will meet at Columbia. The first week will be a show-and-tell lecture on the materials and tools used in making stained glass, and a Powerpoint lecture on the history of the medium from the Middle Ages to the mid-20th century. The second week we will have a Powerpoint lecture on the deterioration and conservation of the various materials in a window: glass, glass paint, lead, copper, steel, and window frames. We will also discuss protective glazing. Weeks 3 and 4 will be held at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. The first half of the first session here will be a tour of some of the windows in the mausolea. Students will then be assigned a window in a mausoleum on which to write a condition study. The condition study will require historical background and an assessment of the window’s condition, deterioration mechanisms, and recommendations for restoration. Students will be expected to do the historical research between weeks 3 and 4. Week 4 we will return to the cemetery to spend more time looking at the windows and discussing their issues in preparation for writing the study. Completed condition studies will constitute 50% of students’ grade and will due two weeks after the completion of the course. The other 50% of the grade will be based on attendance and participation in class.
This workshop is about developing dexterity in architectural representation in order to conceptualize and materialize the environmental, spatial and social aspects of an individual piece of architecture. We will take advantage of new developments in technology to build a three dimensional computer massing model, which can be effectively manipulated and reproduced. A set of graphic images will be produced to address a series of questions with shifting scales and topics. These images will be examined critically for their ability to foster an understanding of the meaning of the building.
Design Workshop: Design with Historic Architecture
This is an architecture studio offered for both historic preservation students with a design degree and Masters of Architecture students in their final year of study. The problem for the studio is a major addition to an existing building that requires an understanding of the meaning of the old building – all of the ways its form and materials express the values it sought to represent and serve at the time – and the ways that meaning might or might not be extended, enriched and brought forward by the addition.
Cultural Landscapes, Design, and Historic Preservation
This seminar will reveal both the opportunities and constraints in the rapidly emerging discipline of cultural landscape preservation. Although the basics will be covered, in an effort to elevate the discourse, special emphasis will be placed on the segmented divide between design and historic preservation and nature and culture. In sum, this seminar will promote and advance an ethic of holistic resource stewardship through the lens of cultural landscapes. Specifically, the seminar will address the issues, tools and strategies surrounding the planning treatment and management of cultural landscapes. This will include historic research and the documentation of existing conditions, methodologies for evaluation and analysis (including the generation of period plans), and the myriad and interrelated issues surrounding treatment, management and interpretation.
Drawing heavily on case studies, supplemented with a small number of local site visits, and required student presentations, this seminar will provide an in-depth understanding of both preservation planning tools and how to apply the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards to cultural landscapes. Finally, within this context such myriad planning, design and historic preservation challenges as: the physical and financial limitations of available research; how we assess and assign significance; the quest for authenticity; placing a value of antiquity (or weathering); the need to determine a landscape’s carrying capacity; and, the recognition of a cultural landscape's palimpsest (historic layers) will also be explored.
International Cultural Site Management
Impetus for the preservation of cultural heritage has developed through the recognition of sites as non-renewable resources. Training is readily available in the specific tasks required to implement preservation, such as documentation and conservation. However, with the exception of sporadic seminars, conferences, short courses or on-the-job training, far less attention has been paid to the larger, more complex and comprehensive issues of management, the process by which the individual components of preservation are fit together and either succeed or fail. This course will utilize the conservation process in the Burra Charter as the basis for a rational approach to managing cultural sites. The course will have an international focus and will review case studies from both historic and archaeological sites. It will be divided into three parts: the first will focus on the compilation of background information and identification of the key interested parties; it will then progress to the analysis of the site significance and assessment of existing conditions and management constraints; and finally, the development of the management policy and strategies for its implementation will be reviewed. The delicate balancing act between cultural enhancement and exploitation will be explored, as well as the need to periodically monitor and reassess management policy.
Making Preservation Happen
The nonprofit sector is the cornerstone of the historic preservation world. Public programs, policy, advocacy, technical services and financial incentives have all sprung out of the many nonprofit organizations that push the preservation movement forward in this country. Who are these groups? What do they do? And, importantly, how do they operate? This course will offer a nuts and bolts, practical introduction to the mechanics of the nonprofit sector: programming, finance, budgeting, fundraising, strategic planning and governance. Leaders in the preservation world in New York will also speak, sharing best practices and thoughts on how they, specifically, achieve their goals.
Classical Language of Architecture
This course, through a series of lectures, group discussions, informal hand sketches and field trips, is intended to acquaint students with the basic grammar of the classical language of architecture, the history of its practice, and the influential architectural treatises which generations of architects have referenced as source material for their work.
We will focus on developing a working knowledge of the canonical building designs through which we trace the evolution of architectural classicism and the “rules” of composition that characterize successive eras and distinct regional interpretations of classical design. We will also explore some of the theoretical underpinnings for classical composition, and the evolution of prevailing theories, through a review of architectural treatises that articulate compositional rationale.
This knowledge will enable the student to describe clearly and with correct terminology, any building in the classical tradition - a key tool for any preservationist in the process of preserving and restoring historic architecture. Such knowledge is also vital in understanding the individual creativity and artistic interpretation that is supported by this tradition, and its continued relevance within the field of architecture.
This course will build on the techniques learned in earlier course work and apply newly acquired knowledge of building materials to a historic building. The goal of this course is to train the student to look and learn how to investigate a historic building using an actual site. There is also a hands-on component for conservation treatments incorporated into this course work. Exercises will include documentation, sampling, materials analysis, synthesis of information, recommendations for conservation and for the final project, conservation treatments.
Historic Preservation Planning
This course is a comprehensive introduction to the field of preservation planning that examines the constitutional underpinnings of landmarks regulation and the emergence of historic preservation as a discipline analogous to urban planning. Also addressed are the issues of applying preservation planning tools, including local individual and historic district designations, National Register nominations, special zoning and conservation districts, easements, and restrictive covenants. Financial incentives for rehabilitation, including investment tax credits, property tax incentives and revolving loan funds, are examined. Current issues in preservation planning including combating sprawl and preserving rural landscapes will be addressed. Guest speakers highlight preservation in Chicago and Pittsburgh illustrating similarities and differences in practices in the field in other American cities.
A course that reviews the structural and decorative uses of metals in buildings and monuments. The metals covered include include iron and steel; copper and copper alloys including bronze and brass; lead; tin; zinc; aluminum; nickel and chromium. The seminar will examine the history of manufacture and use; mechanisms of deterioration and corrosion; and cleaning, repair, and conservation.
Historic Preservation Colloquium (2nd year required)
This course will consider issues within the field of Historic Preservation with relevance to the way it is carried out in the world today. We will begin by distinguishing between its global presence as a popular movement and the growing ideological discourse among its professional practitioners. We will examine these historical manifestations of Historic Preservation critically, seeking a theoretical foundation for our study that is neither determined by the professional discourse nor influenced by prevailing economic and political circumstances. As a baseline, we will focus on contemporary subjects pertinent to the curatorial management of cultural heritage such as Significance and Cultural Value; Authenticity and Integrity; Vernacular Culture; Interpretation of Heritage; Place and Context; and Heritage. Special emphasis will be given to the relationship between buildings as physical objects and their historical persona; and to the role of Historic Preservation as a field of environmental design. Students will be required to present arguments on polemical issues relevant to their own independent research, to express a commitment to a particular point of view and defend it against challenges from their class members. The course is intended to aid students in forming their own professional identities within the field of Historic Preservation by reinforcing their understanding of its intellectual content and encouraging them to participate actively in the discursive process by which it unfolds in theory and practice.
Preserving Modern Architecture
Considering design for new or continued use needs to take into account ubiquity versus significance, historic building typology versus current functionality, design intent, newness and material durability versus the importance of the authenticity of the original fabric, all of which is to be placed in the context of current code, life safety and sustainability requirements. A general discussion of issues is to be supplemented with examples and case studies from the US and abroad.
Experimental Practice in Soviet Preservation
Law for Preservationists
This course is designed to provide students with answers to the 10 questions all preservationists need to know about the law:
1. Where does government get the authority to regulate private property for preservation purposes?
2. What are the appropriate limits to government regulation of private property?
3. From a legal perspective, what are historic resources?
4. What regulatory tools exist to protect historic resources from private actions?
5. What regulatory tools exist to protect historic resources from government actions?
6. What are special legal considerations regarding the protection of religiously owned properties?
7. What laws address the protection of other specific historic resources?
8. What legal tools encourage the voluntary protection of historic resources?
9. What other legal strategies can be employed to save historic resources?
10. What are the latest trends and developments in preservation law?
In the process of learning the answers to these questions students will develop an understanding of preservation law, its application, the legal system, and the interface between preservationists and lawyers.
Interpretation and Architecture
This course is designed to introduce students to the theory and practice of interpretation, a process of communicating the meanings of a cultural resource to an audience. Through readings, class discussion, and case studies, students will explore such topics as philosophies of interpretation, methods of interpretation, and current issues and challenges in interpretation. The course draws upon literature from historic preservation, museum studies, public history, and related disciplines. As interpretation is based on sound scholarship, this course stresses the importance of linking research and analysis to the site in question and examines methods of presenting the resulting of this scholarship to the public in informative, provocative, and engaging ways.
Advanced Research / Independent Study I
Each semester, there is the possibility of registering for “Advanced Research” within the Historic Preservation Program. This is what you may know as “Independent Study”. The student plans a course of self-study and inquiry, and seeks an advisor who will review and grade the work. If you wish to register for Advanced Research, students must submit to the HP office a one-page description of the project, including methodology, goals, and final product, as well as the advisor’s name and the number of credits before the end of the add-drop period. Advanced Research may be for 2 or 3 credits, depending on the scope of the work, and this should be determined at the time of application for the Advanced Research. Indicate who the faculty advisor will be – and discuss your interest in working with that faculty member to gain their approval. Although students will do the research on their own, the advisor will review the final work against the description and goals of the proposal and provide a grade to Andrew Dolkart as the central on-line grader. Faculty do not receive any additional financial compensation for their work as an advisor to an Advanced Research project. Students may not use paid employment within or outside the University as a basis for an Advanced Research project. An e-mail note to the HP Office from the faculty advisor is requested before the end of the add/drop period indicating that the faculty member is advising a student in an Advanced Research project, and approving the proposal submitted by the student. Advanced Research may involve library research, lab work, fieldwork, or other research methods, and the final product could be a paper, or digital design, or map, or something else alternative to a standard paper - whatever the student and advisor agree is the best format for illuminating the results of the research.