Fall Historic Preservation Course Descriptions


Historic Preservation Theory & Practice

Jorge Otero-Pailos
3 Points

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.


Building Systems and Materials

George Wheeler
3 Points

This course 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

Andrew Dolkart
3 Points

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

Françoise Bollack, Ward Dennis, Andrew Dolkart
4 Points

Studio I is the core course of the first semester, and revolves around the study of a section of New York City. 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.


Digital Visualization

Brigitte Cook
1.5 Points

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

Jorge Otero-Pailos and Mark Rakatansky
9 Points

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.


Vernacular Architecture

Janet Foster
1.5 Points

The course is intended to expose students to the rich variety of architecture produced across the US that is the creation of “community” rather than the artistic expression of an architect. Vernacular architecture may be the most common form of building but it is not a monolithic type of building. Understanding its forms and antecedents will allow better understanding of the existing built environment. This is not a “show and tell” of various vernacular architectural types, but an exploration of why and how buildings are identified as “vernacular” and what that can reveal about a place or a culture.


Conservation Workshop

Mary Jablonski and Helen Thomas-Haney
3 Points

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

Erica Avrami
3 Points

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.


Architectural Metals

Richard Pieper
3 Points

This course 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.


Concrete, Cast Stone, and Mortar

Joan Berkowitz and Norman Weiss
3 Points

The format of this course is lecture, laboratory exercises, and field trips. It is one of a series of core courses on architectural materials recommended to the students focusing on conservation issues.


Historic Preservation Colloquium (2nd year required)

Paul Bentel and Chris Neville
3 Points

As the last core requirement of the Historic Preservation program, and as the last academic experience all program students share as a group, Colloquium marks a transition to the specialized work of the year leading up to graduation. Positioned at the mid-point of the curriculum, Colloquium is structured as a collective inquiry into preservation practice and theory, and as an opportunity for participants to reflect not only on preservation’s role in the world, but on their own roles within preservation as well.

Historic preservation (a/k/a heritage conservation) is a complex and evolving field, and Colloquium is a critical exploration of that evolving complexity. In spirit, preservation is a hybrid enterprise, part professional discipline, and part popular movement. The field is encyclopedic (and expanding) in its geographic and chronological scope. Materially, it addresses both tangible and intangible cultural products and practices. In terms of physical scale, it runs the gamut from micro (molecular analysis of construction materials) to macro (management of entire cultural landscapes). Shaped by its distinct but overlapping commitments to conservation, advocacy, and interpretation, it is profoundly interdisciplinary, embracing a broad range of specialties within the field, and dependent on an equally broad range of outside collaborations and alliances. It is global in its reach, but local in its effects, striving to balance the top-down expertise of an international policy infrastructure with the grass-roots energy of individual communities addressing particular concerns.

The class is a structured workshop to aid students in forming their own professional identities within this expanding and shifting field, by reinforcing their understanding of its intellectual content and by encouraging them to participate actively in the discursive process by which it unfolds in theory and in practice.

As a baseline, a series of guided discussions during the first half of the semester will re-examine some of the underlying Big Ideas of the field (such as Significance and Cultural Value; Authenticity and Integrity; Place and Context; Memory and Heritage), with the aim of looking at these now-familiar concepts in a new way.

The second half of the semester will consist of student-led presentations and discussions. 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 to defend it against challenges from their class members.


Preserving Modern Architecture

Theo Prudon
3 Points
The buildings and sites of the recent past have become our cultural heritage. This presents architects and preservationists with unprecedented challenges of a scale and complexity not anticipated in the preservation principles largely formulated in the 19th century. To achieve meaningful preservation solutions it is important to understand the philosophical, aesthetic and physical framework as well as the functional, practical and operational criteria in which the original structures were created. It is that knowledge that will guide preservation and continued use.

The first half of the semester will be dedicated to a general discussion of the issues, supplemented with case studies in both the US and abroad. The second half will probably focus on developing a preservation plan for Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti, the utopian community focused on the sustainable city in the Sonoran desert in Arizona dating from the early 1970s. This will involve the preservation of the built sections in the context of the social and sustainability ideals of the on-going community as well as their desire to continue building Soleri’s plan. The challenges will be architectural, social and physical.

Law for Preservationists

William Cook
3 Points

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.


Advanced Research / Independent Study I

Andrew Dolkart
3 Points

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. 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, a digital design, map, or some other alternative to a standard paper - whatever the student and advisor agree is the best format for illuminating the results of the research.

PLA 6909


Erica Avrami, Will Raynolds
6 Points
This studio will engage students in a study of the Gingerbread Neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, focusing on the relationship of urban morphology, building typology/construction, cultural traditions, urban economy, and community engagement. Students will assess how the historic architectonic and spatial form of this neighborhood influenced the socio-economic functioning of the community and vice versa. The aim is to identify and evaluate the factors that contributed to – or hindered -- post-disaster resilience in this historic context, with an eye toward potentially informing disaster response and adaptation planning in the future and in other historic locales.

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