Historic Preservation
Studio III: Enacting our Environmental Entanglements
Studio II
Studio I
Visualization Techniques
Eoys therodina studios online mshp
Historic Preservation

The Historic Preservation Program’s student work presented in this End of Year Show demonstrates the diverse intellectual interests, critical historical questions, technological experiments, policy research, and design innovations that have energized our conversations and collective learning this past academic year. The show focuses on the work produced in the three studios plus thesis that constitute the core sequence of the program.

The student’s work demonstrates the unique approach of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia GSAPP to the preservation of built and architectural heritage. The program frames preservation both as an experimental form of creative expression and as a critical form of collective action guided by philosophical, ethical, and critical thinking, supported by evidence of its benefits to society, and enabled by emerging technologies and policy tools. In these studio projects and thesis books, preservation appears as an experimental practice testing the limits of what architectural heritage can do to spark society’s collective memory and imagination.

Fall 2022
Studio III: Enacting our Environmental Entanglements
This studio engaged with the climatic and cultural entanglements of Venice, Italy, through the adaptive redesign of the Green Theater (Teatro Verde) on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Designed by Luigi Vietti and Angelo Scattolin, the open-air amphitheater was inaugurated in 1954 by the Cini Foundation. As wind, rain, hail storms, and heat waves have become more sudden, unpredictable and violent in Venice, the Green Theater’s initial design needs to adapt to these uncertain changing conditions. The Cini Foundation, as part of a long-standing collaboration with GSAPP, asked the studio to further its thinking for this site in reactivating its contemporary programming. In collaboration with students from Historic Preservation and the GSAPP Preservation Technology Lab, the studio proposed experimental designs for climate mitigation, including a new retractable canopy for stage and seating, accessible evacuation circulation, and technologies for on-site production of renewable energy.
Fall 2022
Studio II
The Joint Historic Preservation and Urban Planning Studio engaged in an exploration of the policies and best practices in place surrounding the use of heritage places like historic buildings, streetscapes, settlements, and cultural landscapes in on-location film production. The studio sought to develop new approaches to encourage positive changes towards preserving the integrity and environmental qualities of historic places, minimizing risk while equitably benefiting communities, and respecting the related socio-spatial relationships of place. The studio offered students an opportunity to reflect on global case studies related to the challenges and benefits of heritage filming. Students later applied their findings in a visit to Alabama in cooperation with the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium to examine representation for sites related to the American civil rights movement.
Fall 2022
Studio I
Studio I is the central focus of the first semester of the Historic Preservation program, and a foundational course within the program. Studio I engaged students in questions of preservation and its role in the context of the built environment and its larger cultural manifestations. The course focused on developing skills primarily using NYC as our classroom. Specifically, our study area for much of the semester was South Harlem. The Studio encouraged students to think about existing preservation tools, work with a variety of methods for exploring the field, and develop the ability to assess what has been learned in order to come to a conclusion about significance. The Studio offered models for approaching preservation questions and for considering the diverse roles of the preservationist in contemporary practice.
Fall 2022
Visualization Techniques


Advisor: Erica Avrami

Preservation and The Fashion Industry: Comparative Analysis of Mutual Benefits in New York City and Shanghai

This thesis examines the utilization and investment in heritage sites for fashion shows, with a primary focus on locations in New York City and Shanghai. The fashion industry often commits significant resources in hosting fashion shows at prestigious heritage sites, which subsequently receive considerable economic benefits from such shows.

In the thesis, the motivation of the government, heritage sites, and the fashion industry are explored. Additionally, the thesis delves into the property management practices by both the government and heritage sites for fashion shows. It also explores the process by which the fashion industry selects locations for fashion events and the production of such events. This analysis incorporates case illustrations from around the world. The more in depth case study section focuses on New York City and Shanghai, with New York City examples including the Lincoln Center and New York Public Library, while Shanghai examples feature Taiping Bridge Park and the 800 Show. Each case study assesses material damage and its prevention, economic value, the impact on public access, and social trade-offs associated with hosting fashion shows at these heritage sites. Furthermore, four emerging issues related to hosting fashion shows at heritage sites are identified: material damage, public access, heritage narrative, and the cultural connection between fashion shows and heritage sites.

Heritage sites have become popular fashion show venues, and fashion shows are increasingly held in places where protections may not be anticipating such uses, and these sites might not be adequately prepared compared to larger venues. This research can provide insights for the future use of heritage sites for fashion shows, empowering heritage sites to maximize mutual benefits while minimizing negative impacts.


Advisor: Mary Jablonski

This research is on the characterization of a surface coating applied to red high-pressure plastic laminates created by industrial designer Russel Wright for his highly personalized and experimental home and studio, Dragon Rock. These coatings have darkened over time and in several areas, the coating has flaked off entirely, revealing a matte red-orange laminate surface. Each red panel is in a different level of deterioration based on its location in the home. In the kitchen/dining room pass-through cabinet, some panels are smooth to the touch, while others have a textural surface. All panels in the living room exhibit the visual commonality of an orange peel effect. Just as it sounds, the term orange peel marks the resemblance of the surface to that of the peel of an orange. While it has been over two decades since researchers and cultural stewards initially recognized the relatively rapid deterioration of the coating on the red laminate panels, further research, testing, and intervention has yet to take place. This research provides further investigation to better understand the selections that Wright made in terms of modern coatings, and to preserve the existing historic fabric at his experimental home. To examine the laminate and its coating, minimally sized samples were collected from the surface and analyzed with FTIR spectroscopy, and other scientific testing methods. In heavily deteriorated areas of the laminate panels a cross-section sample was able to be taken, including the laminate substrate and subsequent layers, for microscopic examination and further study. The testing reveals that the laminate is melamine formaldehyde based and the coating to be an alkyd. Further recommendations for the original panels and how to preserve the integrity of the home are given.


Advisor: Paul Bentel

Preservation Design Strategies for Unregulated Urban Heritage: A Comparative Analysis of Adaptive Reuse Alternatives for the Shikumen Lane Houses of Shanghai

Shikumen Lane House, a once thriving housing typology in Shanghai, is facing massive demolition. They contribute significantly to Shanghai’s urban fabric and cultural heritage, but gentrification, poor maintenance, and urban development have put them in danger. Despite their importance, local preservation protocols were unable to safeguard this style of architecture because of the way the government is currently organized, the absence of public input during the planning process, and social and economic pressure. The tensions and inconsistencies between the current state of Shikumen Lane Houses and local housing standards are examined in this thesis in terms of practical preservation design solutions. The experiment also sought to investigate how to modernize historic housing using various design strategies to bridge the gap between Old Type Shikumen Lane Houses and the modern built environment, raise people’s living standards, and encourage urban residents to embrace modernity without sacrificing heritage value.


A comprehensive value-based assessment is critical in informing preservation efforts, communicating to preservationists what on a given site is worth preserving and why. The study of preservation of the White Monastery overtime gives us an understanding of which values, and which stakeholders, have historically had the most influence in guiding preservation and restoration efforts on the site. We see consistently that preservation efforts on the monastery are motivated primarily by stakeholders’ religious values, and that areas of great religious value on the site are historically the most well-maintained. It is therefore of the utmost importance that future preservation efforts are guided by an understanding of the monastery’s value to stakeholders, and that they prioritize structures of religious value, such as the historic church, and the sanctuary therein.


This thesis focuses on the designation process on a local level of the locally designated buildings and/ or sectors in the city of Chandigarh, India. The city is a prime example and one of the distinctive exercises of urban planning and modern architecture, designed by a Swiss- French architect, Le Corbusier and his team involving senior architects like Pierre Jeanneret, Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew along with a team of Indian architects and planners like M. N. Sharma, A. R. Prabhawalkar, Aditya Prakash, N. S Lambha, P.L Verma and others. On one hand Le Corbusier’s vision for Chandigarh was influenced by progressive and futurist Western modernist design principles and aesthetics. On the other hand there have been criticisms of Le Corbusier’s approach, which has been seen as imposing Western ideals on India and disregarding local traditions, raising concerns about sustainability and liveability in the city. Despite these tensions, Chandigarh remains a unique example of modernist architecture and planning in India. This thesis considers the Historic Urban Core of Chandigarh and examines the current conditions of the built environment of some of the areas which have been designated as Grade 1 or Grade 2 sites by the Heritage Committee of the city. In addition to this, this thesis outlines how these heritage zones are managed, or in many cases not managed and suggests a few ways to avoid violations to abide by the original legislation or to provide certain exceptions within the initial framework. Through these suggestions, this thesis aims to address the gaps observed in the management, through the lens of maintenance and policy enforcement. This thesis then states the implications and the urgency to recognize several other modern architecture/ post- independence architecture sites in the country on the local and national levels.


Advisor: Andrew Dolkart

Sustaining the Intangible: Preserving New York’s Living Heritage

This thesis explores the preservation ofliving and intangible heritage in cultural enclaves within New York City. The study examines the effectiveness of cultural district designation and similar legislation in pre­ serving cultural heritage by analyzing three case studies: the established Japantown in San Francisco, the Lit­ tle Italy Special Purpose District in New York City, and the recently designated Little Caribbean in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Through an analysis of these case studies, the benefits and disadvantages of cultural district designa­ tion are identified, and adjacent tools used in New York City are highlighted. The research argues for the need to create policy tools at the local government level to preserve living cultural heritage in New York City to maintain the city’s character and diversity. This study provides insights and recommendations for local govern­ ment officials, urban planners, and cultural heritage practitioners interested in preserving the intangible cultural heritage of their communities in the face of urban development and gentrification.


Conservators as Doctors, Buildings as Patients? Exploration of the Anthropomorphic Analogy in Contemporary Architectural Conservation Pedagogy

This thesis investigates the use of anthropomorphic language in contemporary teaching of architectural conservation. To understand where this practice came from, it charts the origins of language and analogies from antiquity to the present, following in chronological order, anthropomorphic projection onto the built environment to the application of medical analogies and personified language in contemporary conservation. Through this historical analysis, this thesis aims to expose the power of anthropomorphic projection perpetuated in the discipline through contemporary pedagogy by way of the language used to educate; to determine whether anthropomorphic language, and the medical analogy are still present, and if so, their context when teaching future generations of architectural conservators. This thesis begs the question: is there truth in the medical analogy, or is it merely used for its supposed convenience?


Salt damage has long been listed as a major cause of deterioration for porous building materials, but the conservator’s toolbox is surprisingly light when it comes to treatments. Salt crystallization inhibitors (SCIs) emerged over the last twenty years as a possible treatment to prevent damage. This research focused on the evaluation of diethylenetriamine penta(methylene phosphonic acid)–also called DTPMP–and potassium ferrocyanide for preventing sodium sulfate damage to Indiana limestone and Berea sandstone. Samples were treated in the laboratory using a range of application methods and were exposed to aqueous sodium sulfate. Multiple experiments were conducted to understand the success of inhibitors to modify efflorescence, to evaluate the application methods, and to understand the interaction between these inhibitors and the desalination properties of traditional poultice materials.

Poultice application showed the most promise for applying SCIs, with samples from this treatment group displaying the most consistent change from control samples. A longer dwell time proved successful for treating the sandstone samples; capillary uptake treatments were hindered by bedding planes. Upon application using a poultice, it became clear that the use of ferrocyanides should be limited to stones with minimal-to-low iron contents due to a bluing reaction. DTPMP was successful in changing crystallization patterns in Berea sandstone, but its ability to prevent damage proved more complicated. Using inhibitors as additives in desalination poultices did not provide more efficient salt extraction and using an inhibitor prior to a desalination poultice can decrease salt extraction in some stone types.


Advisors: Mark Wigley and Amanda Trienens

The Limestone and Concrete Spectrum of Giv’at Ram Campus, Jerusalem

The entangled realm of Israel Palestine is explored through the prism of the limestone-concrete spectrum. By deconstructing a few aspects of this complexity into themes related to elements, matter, building materials, construction sites, architecture, and history, a more layered reality is revealed. The Giv'at Ram campus, a mid-century modernistic project designed in 1953 as part of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, serves as the site for this exploration.

Although limestone and concrete are frequently linked with opposing concepts, in the Israel Palestine region, those concepts often amalgamate. This thesis is questioning the material binary, and by doing so, dismantles other dichotomic perceptions of the region. The thesis employs a multidimensional methodology for this study, such as interviews, lab analysis of Giv’at Ram specimens, and archival research. By focusing on themes related to geology, documentation, quarries, visual effect, construction, money, and labor, an alternative narrative emerges. Limestone and concrete seen as the most tangible expressions of broader regional relationships; thus, this exploration offers a different perception not only of the Giv’at Ram campus but also of the entire Israeli Palestinian terrain.


Historically, the Caribbean island of Nevis was once associated with the colonial sugarcane monoculture that dominated the physical and economic landscape. Post-emancipation, the industry briefly continued, but was in rapid decline, de-valuing the formerly lucrative plantation sites. After independence in 1983 with St. Kitts, the federation focused on the tourism industry as an economic driver for development. The tourism industry perpetuated the social dynamics and hierarchies established during colonization and led to plantation sites being re-used as luxury hotels and other private uses or simply abandoned. In Nevis, the tension between tourism and preservation created a political neglect of heritage sites and their potential for inclusive interpretation.

The analysis focuses on the plantation history of Nevis, the legacy of tourism and its lasting prioritization, and the development of a heritage sector post-independence. Key findings of this analysis, site documentation of over twenty plantations in Nevis, and evaluation of established best practices in the field, led to proposed recommendations for changes in heritage structure and policy, tourism policy and marketing, site surveying and documentation, heritage education and partnerships, descendant representation and engagement, and spatializing inclusive research. Illustrated by three diverse case studies, the proposals would be implemented at former plantation sites in Nevis and would serve as a precedent for other sites in the British-Caribbean.


The field of historic preservation is engaged in rigorous conversations around inclusion. To confront and address this status quo at a deeper level, preservationists envision an optimistic future in which technologies, data, and digital media can have a social impact on inequity and injustice. The inadequately represented stories and experiences of underrepresented communities embedded in the built environment require new survey methods that leverage technologies to enhance preservationists’ understanding of these underrepresented narratives.

This thesis is situated at constructing an experimental method for cultural heritage research. It reviews emerging data collection methods for underrepresented histories in the digital era from both literature and practice to establish guiding principles for experimental method design. Building upon these principles, this thesis identifies new data sources for historical information from digital platforms, constructs a workflow for data collection, develops multiple research frameworks aiming for different scales, and discusses the application and adaptability of the new method developed. Theprimary task of the method constructed is to amplify and uncover heritage researchers’ understanding of known and new sites, respectively.

New York City, with its abundant heritages from diverse communities and a mature data environment, provides an ideal location for testing experimental research methods. The case study of queer heritage in Greenwich Village has yielded promising results that demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method. This thesis summarizes the research process of developing and applying the experimental method and discusses how interdisciplinary work can shed light on the discourse of social justice on a broader scope via heritage studies.


Heritage building samples (HBS) hold great practical potential for future research and for educational purposes in the study of preservation and conservation. These samples provide scholars, researchers, and practitioners with significant information on building materials, construction methods, cultural heritage, and the environment. Currently, there are no established guidelines for collecting, managing, and documenting these samples, which could compromise their value due to insufficient documentation, lack of connection to the broader context of the building, and unknown provenance. The importance of these samples lies in their provenance, and their relationship to the context in which they were located, therefore, preserving the chain of custody (CoC) of heritage building samples and ensuring their traceability and authenticity is critical to maintaining their value. This thesis aims to provide the essential information required to develop a model for collecting, managing, and archiving HBS while preserving and authenticating its provenance using blockchain. In addition, the proposed model aims to create a digital database that represents the physical samples. This database will be accessible and shareable while being secure and immutable. The proposed model utilizes blockchain technology to ensure that all necessary record-keeping requirements are met, resulting in an authentic, immutable, secure, and distributed database. To achieve this goal, the thesis proposes utilizing the techniques and procedures employed in the diamond industry’s blockchain supply chain traceability system to create a model for documenting HBS, confirming its authenticity, and tracking its CoC. With the use of blockchain, the model will guarantee the immutability, security, and traceability of HBS data, leading to efficient documentation, management, and sharing.


Advisor: Jorge Otero-Pailos

Partitions, Please

How can we, as preservationists, imagine new possibilities for outmoded spaces? This thesis offers a new method for preserving the architecture of Modern office buildings, threatened with obsolescence, through a change in program. By synthesizing practices of spatial arrangement and participatory processes, the methodology also begins to realign the field with community values and housing justice.

Office vacancies have continued to increase in post-COVID city centers, especially in aging mid-century buildings. At the same time, calls for more scalable solutions to the affordable housing crisis continue to escalate. Yet office-to-residential conversions are only fueling the luxury housing market, as developers see no affordable methods for adaptive reuse. This thesis proposes an alternative.

By retaining the character-defining feature of these towers – the open plan – preservationists can protect these flexible interiors from being lost to the isolated units traditionally demanded by the housing market. By proposing specifically that interior architecture become a shared commons gives these towers new relevance for the 21st century city.

This thesis asserts the need for a participatory design process to achieve this goal. Communicated through a pattern book of processes, this how-to guide for a gamified design workshop encourages preservationists to move towards an actors-based thinking. Like in traditional pattern books for textiles or ironwork, this methodology is meant to be shared and copied, and even a bit lost in translation in the process.


Bigger Houses, Fewer Homes: Dwelling Unit Consolidation in New York City

Dwelling unit consolidation, whereby two or more housing units are combined, is an understudied aspect of housing in New York City. While previous research has identified the practice historically, particularly in relation to “brownstoning” and early gentrification in New York City, the full historical and modern extent of the practice has not been studied or quantified. Over the past 70 years, over 50,000 small multi-family buildings have been converted to one or two-families, resulting in a loss of approximately 100,000 units of housing. Concurrently, many larger multi-unit apartment buildings have seen decreases in their overall number of units, as adjacent apartments are combined. This study uses archival building records and contemporary building permits to identify cases of dwelling unit consolidation in New York City. Geospatial methods are employed to identify clusters of the practice, quantify the overall impact, and describe the demographic characteristics of areas where the activity is most common. It shows that dwelling unit consolidation disproportionately occurs in historic districts (both historically and currently), and that the activity primarily occurs in census blocks that are whiter and wealthier than the surrounding neighborhood. It concludes with a discussion of policy responses to dwelling unit consolidation in other cities. Ultimately, this thesis finds that dwelling unit consolidation is an “unintended consequence” of historic preservation, and that policy makers must actively engage with such negative externalities to historic preservation going forward.


Advisor: André Paul Jauregui

Towards the Integration of Visual and Data: Building Information Modelling (BIM) Evaluation for Historic Documentation

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a term typically used to describe a method of utilizing a particular type of “sophisticated” Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software with a certain degree of intelligence. It is growing in significance, with countries starting to establish mandates which expedite tool utilization throughout the globe. As one part of the construction industry in general, the mandates also apply to projects involving historic buildings. Within the preservation workflow, one of the valuable steps is historic documentation, which supports the knowledge resource from the beginning to the end of safeguarding important monuments, even beyond.

By comparing the purpose of BIM and historic documentation with interviews, literature reviews, and software analyses, this thesis has suggested BIM’s potential utility in complementing or even substituting the traditional documentation approach, informing the potential value of this research in the field of preservation, technology, and policy-making. This thesis discovered BIM’s strengths and challenges for documentation, and based on the result of the evaluation, I have concluded that the value BIM provides makes its utilization worthy of being implemented in the field for certain types of documentation projects.

As a supporting tool for BIM mandates or BIM projects in general, a protocol is an important guide to utilize the software, allowing a standardized output and efficient workflow. This thesis evaluated the inadequacies of existing BIM protocols which mainly consist of standards for new buildings and argued that specific standards for documentation would be imperative to accomplish a more targeted approach. A new standard titled Historic Documentation BIM (HDBIM) protocol, including the application guideline was proposed, as a first draft of BIM protocol intended specifically for historic documentation.


As global port cities, Shanghai and New York City share incredible similarities in their development patterns along their waterfronts since the industrial revolution, from prosperous industry, to decay, and to public parks. The thesis aims to investigate how industrial histories are preserved and interpreted in post-industrial waterfront parks in the two cities through the lens of industrial infrastructure saved in the parks, as it is the infrastructure and related production processes that made the industrial sites unique though a discussion of this infrastructure has been neglected in previous studies on industrial heritage preservation.

The thesis consists of an analysis of historic preservation mechanisms and industrial preservation practices in the two cities and the comparative case studies of Yangshupu Power Plant Relics Park in Shanghai and Domino Park in New York. The findings indicate how two completely different political systems result in similar outcomes. For lack of regulatory oversight on the infrastructure from the government, both sites take a more design-focused approach that results in the arrangement of the objects statically with less consideration of creatively interpreting how the infrastructure was formerly operated by people within the whole working system. This has led to the fragmentation of the artifacts in the parks and their use as mere ornamentation. Recommendations and general guidelines for future industrial waterfront infrastructure-related projects are provided in the last part of the thesis.

Overall, the study underscores the importance and great opportunities of preserving and interpreting infrastructure in post-industrial waterfronts as a way to retain their distinctive industrial histories and provide future generations with an actual connection to the industrial past.


Advisor: Jorge Otero-Pailos

Maintenance Theory: Applying Care Within a Socio-Technical Framework of Preservation in the Modern Built Environment

Maintenance Theory is an exploration of the techni-social relationship between communities and the objects they care for and, ultimately, maintain. In this case, the act of care, as a physical interaction, is considered maintenance and works to extend the life of both the building and the community. This thesis explores historical practices of maintenance in the built environment since the late 19th century, seeking to understand how the relationship (and accessibility) between user and object has been altered by technological and industrial innovations of the 20th century. Out of the research, the thesis develops a framework called “Maintenance Theory” which illustrates the operatives of care, the relevance and importance, even of loss, and techni-social methods of maintenance in the context of historic preservation. Ultimately, this thesis presents an expanded definition of maintenance that activates all users within an environment as practitioners of maintenance, each with an input that serves, preserves, and perpetuates the significance of place to people.


The combination of volunteering and heritage is a cultural phenomenon, it has been intentionally or unintentionally seen to foster a high level of public engagement in heritage practices. While many museums have ongoing volunteer practices, there is a rising tendency for heritage sites to adopt heritage volunteering plans in documenting, conserving, interpreting, and alternatively supporting cultural heritage.

The paper uses qualitative and quantitative data from the European Heritage Volunteers Project 2022: Conservation Works at Mining Water Systems & Technical Artifacts to focus on heritage volunteering in conserving historic sites. It intends to answer two overall thesis questions. First, how do we look at this public–heritage interaction that expands the breadth, depth, and numbers of people in participating heritage practices? Second, how do we balance and reconcile a heritage volunteer program’s potential differences and conflicts with the established heritage practices?

The paper does not advocate overturning and replacing the current heritage practice with heritage volunteering. Instead, the paper acknowledges current heritage practices and critical aspects that might suggest necessary reforms for future heritage practices. Given that, the paper takes a multidisciplinary approach to examine a selective case and proposes assessing and mitigating methods for potential negative impacts of heritage volunteering on historic sites and volunteers. In addition, the paper makes some recommendations for overall heritage volunteering and specific chosen case.