M.S. Historic Preservation


The Historic Preservation Program prepares leaders to address the great challenges of protecting the world’s architectural, cultural, and historical heritage in the face of profound change. The multi-disciplinary program has set the standard in the dynamic field of historic preservation and heritage conservation since James Marston Fitch founded it in 1964 as the first such program in the United States.

The program’s renowned faculty uses the architectural and historic riches of New York City as its laboratory, while encouraging study throughout the United States and the world. The Columbia University curriculum stresses the development of analytical thinking and effective communication, coupled with a strong base of knowledge in history, theory, conservation science, planning and policy, and design. Students graduate with the necessary skills and knowledge to advance this rapidly evolving field and thus join the vibrant network of alumni who are already redefining the boundaries and practice of heritage conservation around the world.


The Historic Preservation Program offers a curriculum of extraordinary diversity. The curriculum includes a series of core courses, providing each student with basic knowledge of the field, and then broadens, allowing each student the opportunity to develop his or her own focus.

The core curriculum is the focus of a student’s first year. The centerpiece of the curriculum is studio. Students work individually and in groups within a studio environment, meeting one-on-one with each of the studio faculty. Key to the core curriculum is a course entitled “Theory and Practice of Historic Preservation” that provides each student with a grounding in the historical ideas behind the field. Students also take Preservation Planning and Policy, an introduction to planning as a preservation tool; Building Systems and Materials, which introduces building techniques and materials, and American Architecture I, a history of architecture in the United States through the 1880s. Several of the first semester courses continue into a student’s second semester.

During the summer between the first and second year, the Historic Preservation Program strongly suggests the completion of one or more internships or work experiences as part of a student’s education and career development.

During the second year of study, students take Preservation Colloquium, a class that analyzes issues introduced in the first year and prepares students for the completion of a thesis. By the beginning of the second year, students have finalized their thesis topic. Preliminary thesis presentations will be made during the first semester, but the bulk of thesis work will occur during winter break and during the second semester. All other classes during the second year are electives that may be taken from the offerings of the Historic Preservation Program, the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in general, or from classes in other departments and schools at Columbia.

Students are encouraged to focus their work, particularly in the second year, and to acquire depth in at least one of the following areas: Preservation, Design, History and Theory, and Planning and Policy.

GSAPP Conversations

Historic Preservation Program Director Jorge Otero-Pailos speaks with Carlos Bayod Lucini and Adam Lowe of Factum Arte. Lowe and Bayod Lucini jointly taught an advanced preservation studio in the Fall of 2016, which involved the documentation of the medieval church of San Baudelio de Berlanga in Spain, as well as some of its paintings in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cloisters. Based in Madrid, London and Milan, Factum Arte was founded by Lowe and has become internationally renowned for setting new standards in digital documentation and redefining the relationship between originality and authenticity.

Historic Preservation Program Director Jorge Otero-Pailos speaks with Robert Hewison, who taught the course "John Ruskin and the 19th Century" in the Spring 2017 Semester. They discuss Hewison’s life-long fascination and study of Ruskin, teaching students to draw as means of exploring truth, and the influence of Ruskin’s thinking on the field of preservation in particular through his study of Venice.

International Studio Field Projects Research Reports

New York Region Studio Reports

Current Faculty
Michael Adlerstein
Carlos Bayod Lucini
Francoise Bollack
Carolina Castellanos
Belmont Freeman
Donald Friedman
Chris Gembinski
Claudia Kavenagh
Christopher Neville
Theodore Prudon
William Raynolds
Helen Thomas-Haney
Jessica Williams

Fall 2017 Courses

Course Semester Title Student Work Instructor Syllabus Requirements & Sequence Location & Time Session & Points Call No.
A4080‑1 Fall 2017
HP Elective Internship
Melissa Parsowith Elective - Open to HP & UP 2nd years, With approval only - By application
Full Semester
1.5 Points
A4341‑1 Fall 2017
American Architecture: 18th & 19th Centuries
Andrew Dolkart Required for HP 1st year
200 Buell
TH 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
A4510‑1 Fall 2017
Historic Preservation Studio 1
Kim Yao, Claudia Kavenagh Studio, Required for HP 1st year
301 Fayerweather
M & TH 2 PM-6 PM
Full Semester
6 Points
A4744 Fall 2017
Digital Visual Techniques for Historic Preservation
Brigitte Cook Mini - HP Only
202 Fayerweather
M & TH 9 AM- 11 AM
SES A (9/5- 10/20)
1.5 Points
A6307‑1 Fall 2017
Advanced Studio 3: HP Technology Studio
Adam Lowe, Carlos Bayod Lucini Studio, Elective
Conservation Lab
TU 2 PM - 6 PM
Full Semester
6 Points
A6740‑1 Fall 2017
Historic Preservation Theory & Practice
Jorge Otero-Pailos Required for HP 1st year
M 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
A6767‑1 Fall 2017
Preservation Planning and Policy
Erica Avrami Required for HP 1st Year
412 Avery
TU 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
A6790‑1 Fall 2017
Thesis Colloquium
Paul Bentel, Christopher Neville Required for HP 2nd Year
115 Avery
W 9 AM - 11 AM
Full Semester
3 Points
A6799‑1 Fall 2017
Historical Research Methods
Andrew Dolkart HP Electives
200 Buell S
W 3 PM - 5 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
A6795‑1 Fall 2017
Law For Preservationists
Will Cook Elective
300 Avery
M 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
Pla6909‑1 Fall 2017
Advanced Studio 3: Joint HP/UP Studio
Erica Avrami Advanced Studio
300 Buell North
TU 2 PM - 6 PM
Full Semester
6 Points
A6305‑1 Fall 2017
Advanced Studio 3: Joint HP/Arch Studio (Joint W/ Architecture - A4005)
Jorge Otero-Pailos, Mark Rakatansky Studio, Elective
MR 1:30 PM - 6:30 PM, F 3 PM - 5 PM
Full Semester
9 Points
A6768‑1 Fall 2017
Architectural Metals
Richard Pieper Workshop, M.Arch - Tech Elective
655 Schermerhorn
TH 11 AM - 2 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
A6786‑1 Fall 2017
Concrete, Cast Stone & Mortar
Norman Weiss Workshop
655 Schermerhorn
TH 3 PM - 6 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
A4844‑1 Fall 2017
Urban Preservation
Erik Langdalen Elective
655 Schermerhorn
9 AM - 11 AM 10/13, 10/16, 10/19, 10/20 6 PM- 8 PM 10/17 + 10/18
Ses A
1.5 Points
A6708‑1 Fall 2017
Sustainable Retrofits
Michael Adlerstein Elective
408 Avery
W 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
A4122‑1 Fall 2017
Mapping For Architecture Urbanism and Humanities
Michelle McSweeney All GSAPP Interdisciplinary, GSAS, M.Arch - Visual Studies
408 Avery
F 9 AM - 11 AM
Full Semester
3 Points
A6776‑1 Fall 2017
Cultural Strategies & Production
Karen Wong All GSAPP Interdisciplinary, Elective Seminar
F 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
A6783‑1 Fall 2017
Narrative Urbanism: Strategic Storytelling For Designers and Planners
Cassim Shepard All GSAPP Interdisciplinary, M.Arch - Visual Studies
115 Avery
F 11 AM - 1 PM
Full Semester
3 Points
Recent News
2016 Fitch Colloquium: Preservation and War, Panel 1

Pre War

Tim Winter
Research Chair of Cultural Heritage, Deakin University
Laurie Rush
Cultural Resources Manager and Archaeologist, US Department of Defense
Leila A. Amineddoleh
Founding and Managing Partner at Amineddoleh & Associates
Lucia Allais
Assistant Professor of Architecture, Princeton University
David Gissen
Professor of Architecture, California College of the Arts

Moderated by Erica Avrami
James Marston Fitch Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation, Columbia GSAPP

Dual Degree graduate Andrea Tonc's (M.Arch/M.S. HP '16) award-winning graduation portfolio