Historic Preservation Internships

Stay up to date with our students this summer as they blog about their internship and travel experiences: Historic Preservation at Columbia Blog

An internship is strongly suggested in the summer between your academic years. Pursuing a Historic Preservation internship is intended to be a learning experience, a chance to try out new skills and interests developed in your first year of the program.

An internship can be anywhere in the world that offers a possibility for a supervised, quality experience with historic preservation professionals and projects. We recommend that students find paid positions, however if you are working outside of the United State it may not be possible due to visa and immigration restrictions.  International students should check with the Columbia International Students and Scholars Office to learn about your unique status before starting any search.

We recommend that an internship be a minimum of 240 hours of employment. Some students have one internship for the entire summer, while others have several short-term or part-time assignments.

You are responsible for finding your own internship, however the program administration is here to help you with applications and your search. Some opportunities come to Columbia and are disseminated to students through the Weekly-Emails. Others can be found by networking with faculty and alumni.

We ask that students let the HP office know what you are going to do before you leave at the end of the spring semester. 

Past Interships

Lauren Perez

Internships at Historic Seattle & Historic Tacoma

Lauren Perez is spending her summer in Seattle and Tacoma. Her first internship was at Historic Seattle. It consisted of researching and documenting all of the structures built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. The research will guide a lectures series that will be given during the 50th anniversary celebration next summer. As part of the internship, she also got to meet many of Washington State's preservation leaders, including members of the WA Trust.

Her second internship is at Historic Tacoma. Here she is working with Historic Tacoma Board President Dr. Caroline Swope to develop, produce, and promote a community workshop on historic preservation and facade restoration as well as a walking tour, with a printed guide, of South Tacoma. She is also creating an online community resource guide, a preservation plan, and researching approximately 50 buildings in order to eventually have them listed on Tacoma's Register of Historic Places.

Jess Owerkerk

Internship in Usonia, New York

Jess is preparing a National Register nomination for Usonia, New York, a planned community in Westchester County, New York, developed with the help of Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1950s. Wright himself designed three houses, based on his “Usonian House” ideal; the other 47 in the community were designed by followers of Wright in a similar spirit.

The leafy, wooded enclave continues to project an aura of man and nature in harmony together, and the original owner of one of the Wright houses, attributes the longevity of so many original residents of the community to its design. Jess is working under the direction of the Westchester County Historical Society and the New York State Historic Preservation Office.

Alison Chiu ’12

Internship at the Shangri La (Doris Duke Foundation, Center for Islamic Arts) in Honolulu, HI.

Alison will create a preservation and cyclical maintenance plan for the site, as well as doing inventory of architectural elements as time permits. Her goal for the internship is to help craft a preservation plan, which began with updating the status on items called out in the Historic Structures Report (commissioned by the Foundation in 2008). As part of the preservation plan, she is currently documenting recently undertaken capital projects on site and also creating a snapshot of cyclical maintenance procedures established by the Building Maintenance and Grounds staff. She is also assisting Shangri La in exploring the idea of future listing on the National Register.

Shangri La was constructed from 1937-1939, and was Doris Duke's residence in Honolulu, Hawaii from the 1930s until her death in 1993. It is currently owned by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts. Shangri La houses an exquisite collection of Islamic art pieces from her world travels, and operates as a museum with daily tours in partnership with the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

Emma Marconi '12

Internship at AKRF in New York and Southampton, NY

Emma is interning for AKRF, a leading environmmental, planning, and engineering consulting firm. She spent the summer working on the historic resources survey for Southampton, NY. She also assisted AKRF's archaeology group in their work to unearth and inspect a 18th-century sailing vessel found at the World Trade Center site. In August, the important work of Emma and her colleagues was featured in The New York Times.

David Ault, Lorena Perez & Lauren Younce

Internship with the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation

From May to July, 2010, three Columbia University Historic Preservation students worked to measure and document three buildings on the Rockefeller family estate in Tarrytown, New York.

David Ault, Lorena Perez, and Lauren Younce, worked under the supervision of Kim Miller, Staff Architect & Director of Operations at the Pocantico Center (GSAPP M.Arch 1990); Preservation Program Associate Maggie Oldfather (GSAPP HP 2006) ; and Arnaldo Ugarte, Sculpture Conservation Technician.

The property is perhaps best known as the location of Kykuit, the Rockefeller family home now operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a house museum. Tarrytown, New York, is 30 minutes by train from midtown. The entire estate property is now known as Pocantico Hills.

There are several other buildings on the property besides Kykuit which have now been relinquished by the family since Kykuit opened as a museum. In planning for future use and preservation of the additional buildings on the estate, the staff of the Pocantico Hills site first needed good documentation. Neither of the two buildings most recently turned over to the Foundation had any plans, elevations, or measurements in the extensive files of the Foundation. The students prepared Historic American Building Survey – level documentation, drawings and photographs for the Marcel Breuer House (1949), originally designed for an exhibit, the House in the Museum Garden at MoMA; and the Japanese Shrine (1909) a mahogany teahouse originally located in the Japanese Garden adjacent to Kykuit. The beautiful drawings produced by the students will be entered by the students in the national Charles E Peterson competition for architectural drawings, co-sponsored by HABS, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the AIA.

The interns will also spent some time each week assisting the Conservation Technician with cleaning and treating the outdoor sculpture collection at Kykuit.

Neela Wickremesinghe, Sarah Sher & Reba Ashby

Internship in Lesvos, Greece with support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

The Historic Preservation Program received a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to support summer graduate student training internships for Neela Wickremesinghe, Sarah Sher, and Reba Ashby to travel to and work in Greece.

For their internship, under the supervision of Adjunct Professor Pamela Jerome, the students were given the invaluable opportunity to work on the Monis Perivolis Lesvos Churches on the island of Lesvos, Greece, undertaking conservation of Post-Byzantine wall paintings at the 16th century church of the monastery of Monis Perivolis. The students spent five weeks on site in Lesvos.

The Kress Foundation has been a supporter of the students and faculty of the Historic Preservation Program for many years, enabling their participation in preservation projects around the world.

Brandi Hayes

Internship with Jablonski Building Conservation

"I worked for Jablonski Building Conservation this summer, practicing a wide variety of conservation techniques and procedures on buildings and monuments in New York City, Newark, and Philadelphia, such as: mortar acid digestion, paint and mortar sample collection, paint and mortar matching, administering stone cleaning tests, monument documentation and conditions assessments, and technical report preparation.
The big project for the summer was to repair twelve ceramic relief tile murals, ranging from 3’-0” to 30’-0” in length, which were originally located in the Cortland Street subway station and survived the fall of the Twin Towers. All 1500 tiles required removal of the concrete backing and most required light patching and painting repairs from damage sustained during their removal. The tiles, when finished, will be re-installed at the new Fulton Street Transit Center in the spring of 2011."

Christina Varvi

Internship with Jablonski Building Conservation

From July 28th to the present, I have been working at Jablonski Building Conservation, along with Brandi Hayes, to continue work on Margie Hughto's "Trade, Treasure, and Travel" murals. The 12 murals had been removed from the Courtlandt St. station and are slated to be re-installed in the new Fulton St. station sometime next year. We are working in an MTA storage room above the tracks of the F train at the 2nd Ave/Lower East Side station, using a chisel and mallet to chip concrete off the backs of each tile. We're also working in the lab, gluing/patching/infill painting the damaged tiles.

Lauren Racusin

Internship with the U.S. Embassy in Peru at the Museo Larco in Lima, Peru

Lauren Racusin was selected to participate in the United States Embassy in Peru Summer Internship Program, which seeks to foster cultural relations and exchange between Peru and the United States. She had the pleasure of working at the Museo Larco in Lima, Peru as her assignment. Lauren also was a recipient of a grant from the Institute of Latin American Studies to enable her internship.

Despite being a relatively small, privately run institution, the Museo Larco has one of the foremost collections of Peruvian pre-Columbian artifacts in the world. It is located in the center of Lima in an 18th century Colonial mansion that is built over the remains of a 7th century Incan pyramid. Lauren’s internship was at an interesting period for the museum. Having recently undergone an extensive renovation of its gallery spaces, Museo Larco was preparing for its official unveiling (an event expected to have over 1000 guests, including President Alan García Pérez of Peru, in attendance), which enabled Lauren to have a variety of projects to assist with the event.