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Architectural Studies - Historic Preservation

Historical Preservation Concentration

Studies in historic preservation allow students to acquire skills in the documentation, assessment, interpretation and restoration of historic buildings and sites. Students apply these tools in formulating intervention plans respectful of a building’s salient historical features and its role as transmitter of cultural and architectural meanings. Through hands-on fieldwork and interdisciplinary studios, coursework encompasses historic building technologies and structural systems, period styles and building types, material properties and processes of deterioration, research methodologies and diagnostic criteria as well as methods of technical and graphic documentation.

The program underscores the relationship between historic preservation and sustainable design practices. As adaptations to climate, site and available materials, historic buildings are often models of energy efficiency, conservation of natural resources and sustainable construction. The reuse, restoration and retrofitting of historic structures and the revitalization of existing neighborhoods constitute ‘’recycling’’ on a grand scale and are crucial steps in combating climate change and promoting environmentally, economically and socially sustainable development. The curriculum highlights techniques and methods of historic preservation as applied to urban public spaces on multiple scales, from streets and neighborhoods to citywide systems and metropolitan districts. Students focus on vital preservation issues regarding spatial typologies and density to develop frameworks that order the urban fabric into viable communities, and facilitate “place-making” through incorporation of historic structures as part of overall community development.

A recommended study abroad semester in Rome places preservation of both historic and modernist architecture within a global context, complementing classroom instruction and fieldwork at historic sites and in local and National Register historic districts in the Delaware Valley and archival research at various collections in the Philadelphia region. Also recommended are professional internships that further the student’s academic experience. The historic preservation concentration has been designed to meet the standards for undergraduate programs set by the National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE).

Due to the broad scope of the field, graduates can pursue careers in the public, non-profit or private sectors, including building conservation and restoration, historic architecture, city and regional planning, architectural history, preservation consulting, cultural site management, and heritage tourism and advocacy. This highly rigorous concentration equips graduates for entry-level job opportunities and provides the basis for master’s programs in historic preservation, material conservation, architecture, architectural history, urban design, urban planning and public policy and museum studies.

Learning Outcomes of Historical Preservation Concentration

Student will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of history and theory of historic and modern periods, styles and places, and apply knowledge to archival research of preservation.
  • Demonstrate expertise and professional-level competency in technical and graphic methods used to document historic structures and places.
  • Apply acquired knowledge base and skill sets to analyze and assess the condition of historic buildings, systems and materials, with special emphasis on issues of sustainability, adaptive reuse and regeneration of historic neighborhoods and places.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of law, advocacy, public policy issues and the ecological impact of preservation.
  • Possess knowledge and experience of the historic preservation practice on multiple scales (from micro to macro) and in myriad contexts, from local to international.


Required courses: 43 credits

  • ARCST-221 Introduction to Historical Preservation        
  • ARCST-266 Preservation Technology I                                            
  • ARCHDSN-208 Visualization 1: Digital Modeling                    
  • PHOTO-436 Historic Preservation Documentation: Photography
  • AHIST-205 History 1: Built Environment: Ancient to Medieval
  • AHIST-206 Renaissance/Baroque (1300-1750)                        
  • ARCST-324 Historic Preservation Documentation: Drawing          
  • AHIST-305 Early Modern Architecture & Interiors (1750-1930)    
  • ARCST-428 Restoration/Rehabilitation Interiors                  
  • ARCST-341 American Architecture  
  • AHIST-306 Modern/Contemporary Architecture & Interiors
  • ARCST-268 Preservation Technology 2
  • ARCST-302 Archival Research for Historic Preservation
  • ARCST-4xx Capstone Studio Adaptive Reuse                        

Recommended electives: 12 credits (chosen from among the following)

  • UARC-3xx Historic Preservation Seminar, Rome             
  • UARC-3xx History and Theory of Urban Forms, Rome
  • ARCST-300 Exhibition Design and Planning
  • LARCH-507 Cultural and Landscape Preservation
  • INTRN-493 Internship