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.
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.
Research Chair of Cultural Heritage, Deakin University
Cultural Resources Manager and Archaeologist, US Department of Defense
Leila A. Amineddoleh
Founding and Managing Partner at Amineddoleh & Associates
Assistant Professor of Architecture, Princeton University
Professor of Architecture, California College of the Arts
Moderated by Erica Avrami
James Marston Fitch Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation, Columbia GSAPP