Graduate Program in Historic Preservation

Historic preservation addresses change responsive to the historic environment. At a time when society increasingly realizes the historical and cultural value of that inherited environment and what has been lost through the destruction of buildings, landscapes, and communities, the field of historic preservation has become central to the design, adaptive use, planning, and management of buildings, cities, and regions. By understanding the time dimension in human culture, it identifies history as an integrated component of the continuous change responsible for the material, psychological, and symbolic qualities of our environment. The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the Penn’s School of Design provides an integrated approach for architects, landscape architects, planners, historians, archaeologists, conservators, managers, and other professionals to understand, sustain, and transform the existing environment.

The identification and analysis of cultural places and their historic fabric, the determination of significance and value, and the design of appropriate conservation and management measures require special preparation in history, theory, documentation, technology, and planning. These subjects form the core of the program, which students build upon to define an area of emphasis including building conservation, site management, landscape preservation, preservation planning, and preservation design for those with a previous design degree.

The Master of Historic Preservation degree requires two years of study and a summer internship and thesis.




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Now showing 1 - 10 of 771
  • Publication
    Stigmatized Space: Negative Heritage in Historic Preservation
    (2015-01-01) Moses, Sarah
    This thesis acknowledges negative heritage as an essential but understudied thread in preservation discourse. It traces the naissance of the term “negative heritage” and its antecedent terminologies in order to situate recent scholarship on the subject within a larger philosophical moment. By tracing the origin of scholarship on the subject, this thesis develops a paradigm of the sorts of events that have been essential to development of negative heritage as a material and theoretical concept and that have had impact on a diverse enough audience to merit continued interdisciplinary study. Before outlining when negative heritage developed as a concept, for what reasons, and what movements and tendencies its consideration has come to promote, this thesis diagnoses what precisely negative heritage is; definitions of the term and its antecedents, which have largely been borrowed from anthropological and psychological literature, are evaluated in terms of their clarity and applicability, and rewritten to tailor the concept — now widely disseminated but still poorly defined — to historic preservation discourse. Precedents in disparate contexts trace the development of a sociogeographic ethos with regard to stigmatized spaces; tactics that have had little representation in the literature receive particular attention. To encourage the management of traumatic sites in a manner that accounts for geographic context as well as sociocultural factors, this thesis considers modes of intervention able to foster acceptance, catharsis, and in various modes, preservation.
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    A Technical Study of the Mural Paintings of the Interior Dome of the Capilla de la Virgen del Rosario, Iglesia San José, San Juan, Puerto Rico
    (2006-01-01) Silva, Cynthia L
    This is a technical study of the extant murals of the 17th Capilla de la Virgen del Rosario located within Iglesia San José, San Juan, Puerto Rico. The primary objectives of this investigation were to: document existing mural campaigns, establish a chronology of mural painting through analysis of materials and techniques, evaluate the conditions of the paintings and to determine possible deterioration mechanisms, and propose recommendations for their conservation and interpretation. In-situ documentation including color digital photography, extensive field notes, and mapping of visible painting campaigns were conducted. This was followed by a materials analysis of select campaigns’ substrate, binders, and pigments. Test methods included gravimetric analysis and XRD of substrate plasters, examination of cross-sections and pigment dispersions, EDS analysis of pigments, and FTIR analysis of binders. The results of this study found six distinct mural campaigns and established a chronology which attributed painting phases to the Dominican, Jesuit, and Vincention orders of the Catholic Church. Notable iconography include the 17th century mer creatures (la serena), and the mid-19th century depiction of the Battle of Lepanto. Substrate analysis revealed a lean plaster mix in the enfoscado as an intrinsic cause of failure, further aggravated by continued water infiltration. Water ingress has created an environment supporting threatening deterioration mechanisms including abundant chloride salts, and biological growth contributing to failing paint layers and plasters. The Rosario Chapel murals are highly significant and warrant a comprehensive strategy for their conservation and interpretation through a collaborative process involving all stakeholders.
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    Evaluation of the Effects of Bottom-Up Management in Preserving Values of Historic Hutong Neighborhood in Beijing: A Case Study of Community-Based Organization (CBO) - Shijia Hutong Historic Preservation Society
    (2016-01-01) Wang, Haoyu
    Preservation of traditional urban neighborhoods in China has long been a government-oriented process. In particular, since the “Old and Dilapidated Housing Renewal Program” implementation in the late 1990s, the Beijing Hutong neighborhood renewal has become an important trigger for the municipal governments to engage with the real estate market. Yet over the years, the official forces have been facing increasing challenges in the development of politics, socio-culture, and economy. As a complement to the current top-down management, the bottom-up approach could improve the recognition of a holistic spectrum of site values in the fast changing environments. However, the lack of on-the-ground community collaborations has limited the ability to test a grassroots-oriented preservation mechanism. The projects dedicated to renovating the courtyard built environments and promoting the neighborhood’s intangible values by applying a resident-centered decision-making process create valuable opportunities for the preservation practitioners to experiment with a bottom-up approach. The establishment of Shijia Hutong Historic Preservation Society (SHHPS) as the first registered community-based organization (CBO) in Beijing, has facilitated the transformation of decision-making roles between the officials and grassroots. My research probes into the effectiveness of a bottom-up management approach relative to the current top-down system in preserving the values of the Hutong neighborhood. The evaluation adopts a value-centered methodology for identifying, documenting and categorizing multiple values of the study area. Comparative analysis of the renovation project demonstrates the differences between the two approaches in the integration of interests, implementations and subsequent reviews. The efforts of promoting preservation mediated through a dedicated CBO have a beneficial effect on pursuing a more adaptive and sustainable system for the historical Chinese social contexts within the Hutong neighborhood.
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    Revisiting a Past Treatment of the Painted Interior of San José de Tumacácori
    (2021-01-01) Goldstein, Gabrielle
    This thesis analyzes the 1949 treatment of the painted plaster using polyvinyl acetate (PVAC), in the interior at the Mission Church of San José de Tumacácori. The treatment was proposed by Rutherford Gettens of the Fogg Museum and executed by Charlie Steen of the National Park Service. The PVAC was sprayed over the entire interior in order to consolidate the painted surface. The PVAC used was specifically Vinylite A, which was produced by Union Carbide. Since 2014, the Center for Architectural Conservation has been performing stabilization treatments to the interior plaster; however, the PVAC treatment has never been closely examined. The ramifications of the PVAC treatment were assessed using a combination of analytical and experimental methods. The painted decoration, which was intended to be matte in luster, now has a gloss; thus it is evident that there were ramifications of the treatment. Further analysis examines how the treatment effected the physical properties of the scratch coat, plaster, and pigment. Findings from this thesis can guide the National Park Service on future in-situ assessments of the Church plasters.
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    The New Hope Experiment: An Investigation and Conservation Plan for the Antonin and Noémi Raymond Farm
    (2018-01-01) Gdula, Sara
    This thesis is the first investigation of the material fabric of the Raymond Farm Center for Living Arts and Design, a 1730s Quaker fieldstone farm house located in New Hope, PA that was synthesized with Japanese and Modernist elements by the architect/designer couple Antonin and Noémi Raymond in 1939. After nearly two decades of successful practice in Japan becoming some of the main proponents for modern architecture, the Raymonds returned to America in 1938 and purchased the 150-acre farm. In their renovations, they synthesized the Quaker architectural elements with cedar panels, sliding fusuma doors and shoji screens among other Japanese features. In this building the Raymonds took on apprentices and functioned as a design atelier in which the apprentices would tackle real-world design in the drafting room as well as assist with work on the farm, which was later titled “The New Hope Experiment”. It was here that the Raymonds first experimented with the combination of vernacular architecture and Japanese-inspired modernism. The initial investigation in this work was conducted with the goal of analyzing and understanding the site through a survey of the extant building fabric by utilizing archival sources, building archaeology, and conservation science to create a comprehensive building chronology and condition assessment with prioritized treatment recommendations. The recommendations presented are in line with modern conservation values as well as the non-profit organization’s mission to create a physical and mental environment that promotes creativity in the spirit of Antonin and Noémi Raymond.
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    All Things Useful and Ornamental: A Praxis-based Model for Conservation Education
    (2007-11-01) Matero, Frank G
    Since its emergence in the twentieth century as a discreet field combining intellectual inquiry and applied knowledge, the conservation of historic and artistic works has developed into a distinct professionally defined discipline.(1) In both concept and practice, conservation has as its fundamental objective the protection of cultural property from loss and depletion. As such it is concerned primarily with the physical well-being of cultural and historical resources by observing and analyzing their form, production, and meanings; conducting investigations to determine the cause and effect of deterioration; and directing remedial and preventive interventions focused on maintaining the integrity and survival of the resource. This does not assume a priori a singular dedication to the physical fabric alone but rather to the entire resource including the associated intangible qualities thus bringing the conservation process back into the social realm of people, places and things.
  • Publication
    Form Regulation to Address New Construction in Historic Districts
    (2019-01-01) Johnson, Meredith
    This thesis will evaluate several tools that cities are currently using to regulate the form of new construction, large alterations, and additions in designated historic areas. A number of tools are available to achieve this type of regulation, but the most popular tools tend to be place-specific design guidelines derived from the study of a historic district, associated with an overlay designation established by the city’s zoning code. Throughout this thesis, this type of regulation will be referred to as “traditional tools.” “Non-traditional tools,” as used herein, include things like form-based codes or neighborhood conservation districts. These are tools that have not been as widely used or are relatively new to the regulatory landscape. The tools evaluated in this thesis will be examined through case studies and include a mix of traditional tools and non-traditional tools. The traditional tool case studies are New Orleans, LA, and Savannah, GA. The non-traditional tool case studies are Beaufort, SC, which is used a case study for both traditional and nontraditional tools, and Philadelphia, PA.