Case Studies in Urban Conservation – at the Intersection of Building, Campus, District

Traditional conservation practice is increasingly proving inadequate to address the socio-cultural, economic, and environmental challenges facing the diverse array of sites and districts currently in need of management and renewal.  This is particularly true in the evolving field of Urban Conservation, where conserving and enhancing use values in the broadest sense from the level of the building, street and landscape to the district and city, are critical determinants of future success.  

Focus on creative thinking is therefore necessary 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 some of the full range of values and issues that must be considered to ensure the success of any intervention.  While this approach does not circumvent the normal processes of assessment and evaluation of physical resources, it does recognize the essential need for a deeper understanding of the social and economic factors that help define place.  Subsequently, we may then apply critical overlays to identify possibilities for syntheses that balance repair and conservation with appropriate future use, perception, and socio-economic value.  

Case Studies in Urban Conservation will build upon the philosophical and practical underpinnings of the fall semester Building and Urban Conservation course (not a pre-requisite) and will explore the range of scales from building and landscape to campus and neighborhood or district.  The curriculum will be anchored by lectures that survey contemporary and historic theories of urban conservation followed by a series of Case Studies looking at interventions into a variety of traditional and modern places given by the instructor and an international roster of guest practitioners and scholars, who, will address current theoretical, political, and practical issues facing the renewal of the built environment.  

Readings will be assigned on a weekly basis, which will become topics for regular in-class student-led discussion, and there will be a short, written mid-term exercise.  The final project will be an analytical case study of an example of the application of urban conservation methodology to the revitalization of an urban complex, neighborhood, or district, of the student’s choosing.