Historic Preservation

Grand interior space of an old building with elaborate metal staircase
The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia announced its 2021 Preservation Achievement Awards for exemplary historic preservation projects. Many Weitzman alums had a role in the list of 24 projects that received Grand Jury Awards. The awarded projects range from the refurbishment of the industrial Huntingdon Mills building into housing for workers in the health and human services field, to the conservation of the tympanum panel on the pediment of the First Bank of the United States, to the restoration of the soaring interior of The Bourse.
A young Black woman in a fur coat sings at a microphone

Image: University of Pennsylvania/Marian Anderson Collection of Photographs

For hundreds of years, there’s been a history of erasure and forgetting of Black heritage and achievements, not just in Philadelphia, but in America in general. Weitzman's Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites is working to change that through partnerships with organizations like the Marian Anderson Museum, the residence of the legendary American artist-activist.
Cover of Getty Conservation Institute newsletter showing people working on an ancient mosaic
Recently, the Getty Conservation Center convened a panel for a virtual conversation on built heritage conservation education and training. Frank Matero, professor and chair of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at Weitzman, and director of the Center for Architectural Conservation, spoke with Tony Barton, chair of Donald Insall Associates in the United Kingdom; Jigna Desai, associate professor, CEPT, chair for the master’s program in Conservation and Regeneration in the Faculty of Architecture, University in India, and executive director, Center for Heritage Conservation; Jeff Cody, senior project specialist, Getty Conservation Institute; and Jeffrey Levin, editor, Conservation Perspectives, The GCI Newsletter. Their conversation is exccerpted here.
Cover of Meskell book
A recent book by Lynn Meskell, a newly appointed Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with an appointment in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, lays out the complex history of UNESCO and its World Heritage program. In an excerpt from A Future in Ruins: UNESCO, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace Meskell writes that for “conservation to fulfill its midcentury promise for the future, it must strive to include the people who matter most, whose heritage it is, and to consider those who have most to win or lose in the fate of World Heritage sites.”
Lynn Meskell

Photo Eric Sucar

President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett announced today the appointment of Lynn Meskell as the University’s twenty-sixth Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) University Professor. She is the Weitzman School's first PIK Professor.
A person walking down the sidewalk next to a wall painted with a mural

A woman walks by a mural dedicated to Patrice Lumumba in L.A.’s Leimert Park. Photo by Joey Zanotti on Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

This fall, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released a report co-authored by alum Di Gao (MSHP’14) that reframes the work of historic preservation as part of a larger struggle for social justice. Released through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, which launched in 2017 with the goal of preserving more sites with significance to Black history, it demonstrates the need to promote equity in historically Black neighborhoods facing the pressures of gentrification and displacement.    
South facade of the Pennsylvania Hospital's Pine Street building

Courtesy Penn Medicine

Pennsylvania Hospital has been in continuous operation at the current site in Philadelphia’s Society Hill neighborhood since 1755. Recently, the hospital commissioned a Conversation Management Plan from the Center for Architectural Conservation to help guide planning and upgrades for the Pine Street building, grounds and collections; it's being developed by Kecia Fong (MSHP‘99), a lecturer in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, and Starr Herr-Cardillo (MSHP‘17).
Cover of Change Over Time 9.1, with text reading A Heritage of War, Conflict, and Commemoration
Change Over Time is a semiannual journal of the history, theory, and praxis of conservation and the built environment based at the Weitzman School and edited by Frank Matero, professor and chair of historic preservation, and Kecia L. Fong (MSHP’99), managing editor and lecturer. The latest issue focuses on the heritage of war, conflict, and commemoration. Articles in this issue examine sites including Pearl Harbor, Sarajevo’s “Tunnel of Hope,” and contemporary migrant camps in Thessaly, Greece, an excerpt of which appears here. In “Sites of Refuge in a Historically Layered Landscape: Camps in Central Greece,” Kostis Kourelis, an associate professor of art history at Franklin & Marshall College, writes about the potential commemoration of recent political turmoil, using refugee camps in Central Greece as an example. The article has been edited and excerpted for brevity. The complete article can be accessed through Project Muse.
Black and white photo of Standard gas station

Streets of Los Angeles Archive. The Getty Research Institute, 2012.M.1. © Ed Ruscha

Francesca Russello Ammon, an associate professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at Weitzman, is part of a team that has been awarded an $86,000 digital humanities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Sunset over Sunset, as the project is called, will tap the vast body of photographic work by legendary Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha which has been begun to be digitized by The Getty Research Institute (GRI) to analyze small-scale urban change in a manner never before possible.
White wooden sided two story home with workers on scaffolding in front

Photo Nancy Pierce courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation

A recent panel discussion brought together alum Monica Rhodes (MSHP’12) and Randall Mason, associate professor and faculty director of the Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites, who shared ways that the historic preservation field is moving toward being a more inclusive practice. “Valuing the cultural authority of black communities is crucial,” Rhodes said.
A group of women dressed in white uniforms pose for a 1934 photograph.

Courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Museum

As Americans navigate the pandemic and economic downturn, elected officials and activists alike have called for ambitious new public initiatives the likes of which we have not seen since the 1930s.
panoramic photograph of students, masked, in a cemetery.

A panorama of socially distanced students at the Woodlands

June Armstrong (HSPV/CPLN ’23) describes the new and unprecedented experience of the Historic Preservation Summer Institute as the 2020 cohort started their Penn careers from the comfort of home.

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