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: Conservation of Earthen Architectural Heritage
From ancient to modern times, building with soil has been one of the oldest and most widely used construction methods next to stone and wood. Earthen construction materials are considered sustainable, because of their local availability, insulative properties, and low carbon footprint. Approximately 50% of the world’s population lives in some form of earthen architecture. Earthen architectural heritage is also recognized in over one quarter of the World Heritage Sites that are cultural or mixed sites.
Construction technologies vary from place to place depending on the quality of the local soil. From the dugouts of Tunisia to the high-rises of Yemen, earthen architecture comes in many shapes and forms. Students will learn about the major construction technologies, including hand-shaped or molded sun-baked bricks (adobe), rammed earth (pisé de terre), and puddled earth (cob). Students will learn about the different types of clays and their effect on the long-term stability of earthen structures. Some laboratory analyses will be reviewed. The class will look at a multitude of case studies from around the world, from archaeological to living heritage, and various methods of conservation.
In addition to the lecture readings, the course requirements will require each student to pick a site and explore issues confronted by the site’s team in terms of preservation of earthen architectural heritage.
GIS for Preservationists
A geographic information system (GIS) allows us to visualize and interpret data about places. The creation of maps using GIS can help us answer geographic questions in ways that are quickly understood and easily shared. For this reason, GIS has become a central tool in many fields, including historic preservation, where it has been used successfully in a variety of ways including documenting threats to historic resources and telling the stories of communities and places. In this class we will cover the basics of the popular software ArcMap with a focus on ways GIS can be integrated into the practice of historic preservation.
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.
Sustainability and Preservation
Preservation can play an important role in creating and managing a sustainable built environment, but significant changes in the policies and practices of the preservation field are required. This course will examine the positive -- and negative – effects of heritage conservation vis à vis sustainability, and will explore tools and strategies for enhancing preservation’s contributions toward a more livable planet and society.
The built environment is one of the most egregious culprits with regard energy and resource consumption, waste generation, landscape destruction, and climate change. The evolving sustainability discourse has given rise to greater environmental awareness in architecture, preservation, planning, and real estate development. In the face of growing populations, demographic shifts, and diminishing resources, sustainability concerns compel drastic changes in the way we develop, design, construct, and manage the built environment, particularly in urban regions where market pressures and complex regulatory structures compound decision-making. As the scarcity of greenfields and developable land in urban areas grows more acute, redevelopment densification within existing neighborhoods becomes ever more prevalent, inherently involving greater community participation and potential conflict over existing resources and future needs. Improved integration of preservation within a broader agenda for sustainability will require a new set of priorities and trade-offs that balance the range of environmental, economic, and social concerns with traditional preservation values.
Balancing an examination of theory with issues of policy and practice, this course will approach sustainability through a tripartite model: environmental, economic, and social. It will cover fundamental concepts of sustainable land use planning and green building and the role preservation plays. It will also examine the ways in which preservation contributes to economic vitality and social justice and cohesion. Drawing from multiple disciplines, students will explore a variety of tools and metrics to assess social, economic, and environmental factors related to heritage and the benefits (and costs) of preservation. An overall aim of the course will be to evaluate how the processes and policies of preservation can be made more sustainable in the long-term, and ensure positive outcomes for both people and places.
The course will include lectures, case-based analyses, dynamic discussion, and student projects. Through exchange with their peers and independent research, students will develop ideas for change in education, practice, and policy that would better incorporate environmental, economic, and social concerns in preservation practice and better align the goals of preservation with those of sustainability.
Mini-Course: Historic Replicas: Replacement Materials Workshop
This course pairs a discussion on the suitability of replacement materials in restoration and conservation projects with a practical workshop component. Students are instructed in common restoration techniques such as mold making, lost wax casting and composite mortar patching. Students will gain an understanding of the challenges of replacement materials compatibility with original historic fabric and develop essential manual skills. Hands-on participation includes creating decorative replicas for use in the restoration of a NYC landmark. Course explores multiple case studies and includes a tour.
Mini-course: Neighborhood Preservation and Zoning
This course provides an introduction to neighborhood preservation issues both in New York City and in other municipalities across the United States. It will include an examination of New York City’s current approach to rezoning neighborhoods or significant portions of them, applying contextual zoning and relying on inclusionary housing to create affordable housing. The recent proliferation of neighborhood conservation district ordinances nationwide will be studied, along with how their administration is coordinated with the work of local landmarks commissions and planning agencies. Through case studies, students will explore current neighborhood preservation techniques, and examine cutting edge approaches to using zoning as a preservation planning tool.
Architecture and Development of New York City
This course will trace the development of New York City through its architecture and will examine the history of architecture as it is reflected in the buildings of the city. We will look at the architectural development of New York from the time the city was a minor colonial settlement, to its development as a great commercial and institutional center in the 19th century, through the 20th century when New York became one of the great cities of the world. We will discuss why various architectural developments became popular in New York; how these developments reflected the complex social history of the city; and will explore what these developments mean to New York's history. We will examine the major architectural monuments of New York's five boroughs, but we will also look at the more vernacular buildings that reflect the needs and aspirations of the city's middle- and working-class residents. The class will focus on the evolution of residential architecture (row houses, apartment buildings, tenements, etc.), the central role commercial architecture (counting houses, lofts, skyscrapers, etc.) has played in the city’s history, and how New York became the American center for the construction of great cultural and philanthropic buildings. The class lectures will be supplemented by several walking tours, including one given by students.
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.
Heritage and Social Justice in a Changing World
Historic preservation has always expressed a vision of social progress. Sometimes this has focused on instilling patriotism, at other times on conserving resources, beautifying the landscape, protecting local values, encouraging entrepreneurship, or promoting economic justice. Today, after a turbulent period of social and environmental activism (1960s‐70s), followed by an equally conflictive move towards market liberalism (1980s‐90s), American society is once again in transition. And, perhaps not coincidentally, new questions are being raised about preservation’s relevance. What are the critically important trends reshaping American society? The social movements that could offer meaningful new roles for heritage conservation? The opportunities for innovative and relevant conservation work?
It is assumed that students will not be experts in the language of social justice. The course therefore opens with an introduction to fundamental concepts (justice, fairness, rights, development, inclusion). Next, a review of key issues in American society (poverty, inequality, racism, urban disinvestment, global warming). Third, the core question: how does heritage work contribute – how could it contribute – to social justice?
The course is organized around weekly readings and discussions. In addition, students will present a seminar paper on a topic related to the final theme. Paper topics will be chosen to encourage students not only to learn about existing conservation work but also to develop proposals for innovative approaches.
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. In Spring 2012 there were three studios – one focused on interpreting the resources in neighborhoods along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront; another that developed a preservation plan for the commercial area of the Richmond Hill neighborhood on Staten Island; and the last, a design studio, addressing the challenging problem of building on the one-story remnant of a landmark building in Harlem that had burned. The final reports for all studios since 2003 are available on the Historic Preservation Program’s website.
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.
Documentation for Architectural Conservation
This mini-course is an introduction to graphic conventions and tools for documenting the project scope for which the conservator is responsible. However, it will not overlook the processes critical to the work of the conservator in developing a conservation plan such as surveying, testing, assessment, and diagnosis. The course will be a general introduction to how conservators can make the best use of existing resources and varied technologies - both low and high tech - for their work, yet still produce information in a format compatible with standard architectural documentation.
The course will be organized around familiarizing students with Construction Documents (CD's), the architecture industry standard for graphic and written documentation. And then, proceed to discussions as to why these may not initially be an efficient, practical, or even desirable method for recording conservation issues. Moving forward, we'll explore how these ideas can be unified such that the conservator's needs are met while producing information in formats that can be seamlessly integrated into traditional working documents.
Professionals in practice will join the class periodically to advance discussion and present actual projects and the solutions developed to meet specific challenges.
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”.
Historic Preservation Advocacy
Making the case for preservation, developing and energizing a constituency, mastering the policy decision-making processes, creating political will, using media, and designing and implementing effective strategies, are among the essential components of a successful advocacy effort explored in this course. Drawing from preservation’s history, the key principles of advocacy will be discerned, their application analyzed, and their strengths and weaknesses assessed.
Whether the 1940s confrontation with Robert Moses over the future of Manhattan’s Battery, the multi-year effort in the late 1950s and early 1960s to protect Brooklyn Heights, the 1980s campaign for City and Suburban Homes or this decades battle over Edward Durrell Stone’s 2 Columbus Circle, preservation’s past and present offer us a wealth of advocacy examples from which to extract and analyze both the fundamentals and finer points of preservation advocacy. Preservation advocacy case studies provide a rich vein of intellectual capital to mine for insights and lessons that can benefit preservation advocacy efforts in all settings.
Advocacy principles and techniques applicable in a wide range of settings will be extracted and analyzed. In power point and written form, students will prepare, present to the class for evaluation, and refine for submission a detailed case study of a particular advocacy effort. Through lectures and class discussions, the elements, pros and cons, and applications of advocacy approaches, techniques, and strategies will be evaluated. Guest speakers will bring their experiences from the front lines.
In light of technological, societal, and political changes, the future shape of preservation advocacy efforts will also be explored. Are traditional preservation advocacy techniques still effective? Do changes in media offer new opportunities for preservation advocacy? Is the “battle” metaphor for preservation advocacy outdated and harmful to contemporary preservation efforts? The course concludes with a discussion of preservation advocacy in the future.
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.
Introduction to Historic Structures and Systems
Introduction to Historic Structures and Systems builds on information introduced in Introduction to Architectural Materials, and brings this material up to the present in terms of understanding modern building systems and materials. It address how steel frame and concrete buildings are made, and how they often fail. The organization of the course relies upon not only the study of the chronological development of the building arts and sciences, but as each building system is introduced, the discussion of the pathology modes and conservation approaches follows within the same week.
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.