Case Studies in Conservation and Adaptive Reuse

Traditional conservation practice is increasingly proving inadequate to address the cultural, economic, social and environmental challenges facing the diverse array of buildings and sites currently in need of renewal.  A new focus on creative thinking is emerging to accommodate both the volume and often erratic quality of the resources under consideration, but more profoundly to acknowledge that science and scholarship address only part of  the full range of values that must be taken into account to ensure the relevance, quality and ultimate success of any intervention.  While this approach does not circumvent the normal processes of assessment and evaluation it does recognize the essential need for a critical overlay in order to achieve a design synthesis that balances conservation and repair with appropriate future use, perception and socio-economic value.  

Case Studies in Conservation and Adaptive Re-Use will build upon the philosophical and practical underpinnings of the fall semester Building Conservation and Renewal course, and though that course is not a prerequisite, some familiarity with the intellectual and regulatory framework associated with working with historic sites is useful and recommended.  The course will feature a series of case studies on a variety of traditional and modern resources given by the instructor and guest lecturers, who will explore contemporary theoretical, political, socio-economic and practical issues that attend working with existing properties.  

The primary course deliverable will be student authored case studies on a significant property to be chosen by the student with sufficient availability of project information through physical access, publications and/or access to source material through the owner or architect.  A curated project list will be provided to assist students who might otherwise have difficulty identifying an appropriate project that raises critical questions about conservation, interpretation, and the design of interventions.  Students are encouraged where practical to work in teams.  The goal will be to develop a critical analysis that identifies the material and cultural values that define each property, suggest how best to manage their conservation and guide future development, and ultimately to understand how change – whether as a singular event or in multiple campaigns – has reinforced, challenged or rejected attributes of the host structure.  Short essays and regular discussion of course readings will also be required.  

The course is a weekly seminar.  Classes will be given in two segments:  The first will be hour long weekly pre-recorded lectures available in advance of scheduled class time for asynchronous viewing.  The second segment will be a 2-hour required synchronous discussion of the recorded lectures and key readings with the presenter, and student presentations on assigned readings.  

Note: the instructor will offer live course presentations on 01/19-01/21. To access the detailed schedule and Zoom links, please visit the Live Course Presentations Website. If you need assistance, please contact Estefanía Ibáñez