Spring Historic Preservation Course Descriptions
American Architecture II
This course is a survey of architecture built in the United States, starting with the modernism of the Chicago School and ending with the postmodernism of Deconstructivist architecture. It is designed to provide an understanding of the major protagonists, schools of thought, and events shaping the development of American architecture. It is also intended to develop competence in identifying, understanding, and analyzing historic buildings, their significance, types, and styles. Students will build proficiency in the use of the historiographical, visual, and intellectual tools necessary to grasp fully the meanings of historic buildings in their various historical, cultural and political contexts.
Mini-Course: Building Hardware
This course will introduce the student to the history, development, and identification of building hardware from the mid-18th century to the early 20 century. The course will address “rough” building hardware such as nails, screws and bolts, as well as “finishing” hardware, such as door locks, hinges, sash fasteners and pulleys. Through photos and examination of actual examples, students will learn about the various metals, fabrication methods and surface finishes used in producing hardware. Students will use period catalogs and patent records to research and identify hardware. A basic understanding of metals is useful (Architectural Metals A6768) but is not required for this course.
Professional Practice and Project Management
Professional Practice and Project Management is designed to introduce students to professional practice in the discipline of historic preservation. Students will learn how the technical knowledge gained throughout their academic studies becomes an integrated part of the larger whole that is professional life as well as about the many other, related components of a professional’s work life. We will explore the different career paths within the field of historic preservation; students will also gain an understanding of the roles of the various other types of professionals with whom preservationists and conservators typically have interaction. We will study the typical progression of a project through the design and construction phases, with a focus on the role of the preservation professional.
Students will learn how a project manager develops an approach for a project and then uses that approach to develop a work plan. To accomplish this, the syllabus follows a ‘real world’ sequence of activities that a preservation/restoration project might follow. Beginning with the writing of a proposal and the development of a work plan, the class will then look at practical and logistical matters related to how and when we address various components of a project, such as site investigation and required governmental regulatory processes, and the different kinds of work products that result from these activities. We will discuss the production of technical drawings and specifications, and how that work product translates into a bid phase and construction phase activities. Using examples of real projects and at least two site visits, the course aims to always include practical discussions of issues that arise during the course of a preservation project and in the work life of the preservation professional.
Mini-Course: National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the federal listing of buildings, districts, sites, etc. of historic significance. Professionals in the field of Historic Preservation are frequently called upon to complete National Register nominations as part of advocacy for the preservation of a building, in order for an owner to take advantage of historic preservation tax credits, or for other reasons. This mini‐course will examine the criteria for National Register listing and each student will complete a minimum of one National Register nomination for a building the New York State Office of Historic Preservation is interested in seeing listed on the register.
International Issues in Historic Preservation
This course will examine international policies and processes in the preservation of cultural heritage, as well as their theoretical underpinnings. A primary aim of the course is to promote critical thinking about the various approaches to preservation and the cultural values that inform them, with an eye toward better understanding US practice within a global context. The initial part of the course will focus on the infrastructure of the international conservation arena, including programs, entities, and the World Heritage system. The remainder of the course will be issue-driven, using cases, readings, and varying geo-cultural contexts to examine philosophies, policies, and professional praxis.
Architectural Finishes in America is about the decoration, ornamentation, and protection of buildings with a wide variety of finishes. Buildings and preservation should not merely be about the outer shell of the building but how people saw themselves and expressed themselves in the finishes of their homes and public buildings. We can not cover every finish but we will look at paint, wallpaper, plaster, stucco, twentieth century wall and ceiling finishes, tile, linoleum, and glass. The course will be a mix of lectures, site visits, and conservation treatments. As part of this course, the class will work on a field conservation project performing trial conservation treatments. The site of the project changes each year. Several sessions will involve travel time to sites for investigative and conservation work. The remaining sessions will be held in the Conservation Laboratory in Schermerhorn Hall.
Working with Cultural Diversity: New Opportunities and Challenges for Preservation
The United States is a diverse nation as never before. Not that diversity itself is new: Native people, European immigrants, and enslaved Africans were all part of American society from the very beginning. But today’s social complexity is quantitatively and qualitatively different from the American past. Today, one in seven Americans were born in another country, while one out of every ten Mexicans lives in the United States. By 2043, the Census Bureau projects that a majority of Americans will belong to minority groups. That’s less than thirty years off: a date well within the career span of today’s graduate students. Working with diverse communities is becoming the new normal, posing challenges as well as opportunities for preservationists. What are the heritage needs of diverse groups? How can preservationists meet them? How can preservationists diversify their own organizations? Dealing constructively with diversity clearly matters for the future of preservation: it matters for the future of America too.
The goal of Working with Cultural Diversity is to give students the fundamental tools for working with culturally diverse communities, at the level of both project management and policy development. The course begins by establishing a factual basis for discussion: who are we Americans, where do we come from, how did we get here? We then look at the leading strategies western democracies have adopted to incorporate diverse populations, with special attention to the set of policies known as multiculturalism. We turn next to preservation itself, reviewing the history of cultural diversity initiatives, especially efforts to conserve Native, African American, Hispanic, and Asian heritage. Finally, we look forward. Taking what we’ve learned about preservation’s successes and failures, we explore new policy frameworks for the future. Working with Cultural Diversity is a discussion seminar, organized around weekly reading assignments and conversations in class. We will also meet with at least one ethnically specific heritage group in New York. Each student will be responsible for a short class presentation on a case study drawn from either Native, African American, Hispanic, or Asian heritage preservation. In addition, students will write a final paper. Students will have the option of working individually on a research topic chosen after consultation with the instructor, or of working collaboratively with other students on an aspect of new policy development.
Old Buildings, New Forms
This seminar focuses on recent, cutting edge, architecture transforming old buildings to produce new forms in the United States and world-wide. These projects are examined not as unfortunate hybrids but as provocative works of modern architecture made possible by contemporary ideas of sustainability, by new attitudes to buildings as transmitters of cultural and architectural meanings and by 20th century artistic developments. The seminar includes site visits of projects in New York City with the architects, individual work by each student on specific buildings and lectures on the subject by Françoise Bollack.
Wood; Its Properties, Use, and Conservation
Preservation Studio II
In Studio II, students break into small working groups to explore real-world preservation problem, focusing on issues in the New York region. Studio II projects in recent years have included preservation/planning studies, historical analysis, interpretation of historic resources, and design issues. Groups strategize on preservation issues distinct to each problem and in their analysis develop proposals which consider the historic resources as they relate to design issues, aesthetics, history, local zoning, economic realities, and other issues.
Thesis (Required 2nd year course)
The thesis is a clear, well-researched substantial argument in support of a position on a question of general interest in the field of historic preservation. Students begin work on their thesis in the fall without registering for a course. There will be two group meetings for all students and faculty in the fall semester to give students a chance to articulate and refine their thesis topic, decide on a faculty advisor, and begin research to answer the thesis question. In the spring semester students register for Thesis as a course, and present again to all members of the faculty to assess progress on the thesis . In April, the student will meet for an hour with a jury of their advisor and readers to defend the thesis and polish their thoughts on the topic. At other times during the semester, the student should be meeting with Historic Preservation faculty as advisors to their work.
Basic Conservation Science
This course is required for students planning to focus on materials conservation in the 2nd year. Offered in the spring as the foundational course for students interested in architecture conservation. The course includes laboratory basics of sampling, testing, and procedure; basic properties of building materials; and the physical and theoretical considerations involved in building “conservation”.
Brick, Terracotta, and Stone
This course explores the group of traditional masonry materials--brick, terra cotta and stone. The format includes lectures, demonstrations and field trips. The goals of the course are to provide: 1) an historical overview of their manufacturing and sourcing as architectural materials with a focus on the 18th century to the present; 2) an understanding of their fundamental material properties in relation to their use and deterioration in a range of masonry construction systems; and 3) an exploration of the state-of-the-art means and methods of their repair, maintenance, and conservation.
Interpretation and Architecture
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 Trisha Logan 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.
Aesthetics of Decay
From the Romantic picturesque to contemporary Ruin Porn photography, decay has functioned as a powerful aesthetic category through which architects, artists and intellectuals have articulated social and political agendas. This seminar critically examines the aesthetics of decay, paying special attention to its rhetorical role in shaping the understanding of modernity and postmodernity within architectural discourse and related disciplines. Readings and case studies will include: John Ruskin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Eliel Saarinen, Robert Moses, Georges Bataille, Guy Debord, Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta‐ Clark, James Fitch, Alain Touraine, Bill Morrison, Damien Hirst and others.