I am pleased to introduce you to the many advantages to studying Historic Preservation at Jefferson. You may be surprised to learn that Historic Preservation today is a broad-based, cross-disciplinary profession that focuses upon both the conservation and the rehabilitation of the already-built environment—a “back to the future” approach that defines preserving the past as a template for a sustainable future.
The curriculum prepares our graduates to address several intersecting challenges facing preservation today, such as the adaptive reuse of historic buildings as a sustainable practice. As adaptations to climate, site, and available materials, historic buildings are often models of energy efficiency, conservation of natural resources, and sustainable construction. Reusing and retrofitting already existing buildings constitutes “recycling” on a grand scale, by reducing greenhouse emissions dramatically, and are an indispensable source of renewable energy, avoiding the environmentally costly route of constructing new buildings and using up open space. Historic Preservationists are fond of saying that “The greenest building is the one already built.”
Preservation has also proven to be a key catalyst to urban revitalization of neighborhoods and whole districts. A vital preservation issue is the development of frameworks that order the urban fabric into viable communities and facilitate “place-making” through incorporation of historic structures as part of sustainable development and healthy communities.
Another challenge is the preservation of modern and mid-century modern architecture and sites, the next frontier within the profession. Preservation protocols tailored to the characteristic problems posed by buildings and sites dating from the 1930s to circa 1980 are currently lacking. Spotlighting this period is the mission of Jefferson’s Center for the Preservation of Modernism.
New and emerging digital technologies play a key role in managing, documenting, conserving, and interpreting historic or culturally significant structures and places. Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) scanning technology is a non-intrusive method of cataloguing important, and often fragile, historical objects and of acquiring essential data. Photogrammetry is a survey tool whose output is typically a map, but can also produce a drawing, measurement or 3D model. As Augmented Reality technology becomes more widespread point cloud data acquisition and storage are emerging as primary mediums in preservation documentation. Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) is also becoming a fundamental tool in preservation planning, whether developing a schedule for stabilization and retrofitting of an individual building or contextualizing a structure within a developing neighborhood.
As a graduate of Jefferson’s MS in Historic Preservation, you have not only developed the documentary and technological skills but also the theoretical framework to meet the preservation challenges of today! To find out more about our program, internship opportunities, and careers in historic reservation, please contact me. I would be delighted to schedule a meeting or speak with you by phone. I look forward to hearing from you!
Suzanne Singletary, PhD
Director, MS Historic Preservation