Historic Preservation

Posted March 30, 2020
  • A view of Tuskegee's campus

    Photo Randall Mason

New Penn-Tuskegee Partnership Aims to Advance Civil Rights Heritage in Alabama

The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design and The Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science (TSACS) at Tuskegee University have entered into a new partnership to increase the visibility of histories of the American civil rights movement and its built, landscape and environmental legacies.

PennPraxis, the consulting and community engagement arm of the Weitzman School, and the School’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation are working with Tuskegee to build its preservation teaching capacity, produce original research, and conduct public outreach.

Under the 18-month partnership, Penn and Tuskegee will collaborate to document and activate culturally significant buildings, sites, towns, and landscapes, in part through a collaboration with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. They will also explore successful preservation, planning, and development strategies for small towns.

Penn and Tuskegee will also collaborate on curriculum development, classroom work, and student-centered field projects to strengthen their respective graduate and undergraduate programs. Penn has a long-established two-year Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree and new one-year post-professional Master of Science degrees. Tuskegee has a new minor in historic preservation and renowned Bachelor of Architecture degree.

Randall Mason, associate professor in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at Penn and the project’s director, says, “This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to learn about the powerful heritage and landscapes of Alabama’s Black Belt. Together, our institutions have already identified exciting teaching and research opportunities on the Tuskegee campus, in the town of Tuskegee, and elsewhere in Alabama, including the city of Selma.”

“Tuskegee’s century-long legacy of community engagement makes this collaboration with Penn a perfect fit,” says Kwesi Daniels, assistant professor and department head of architecture at Tuskegee. “There are so many sites that need to be preserved, but have not had the resources or expertise that Penn and Tuskegee can provide. We are excited about how this partnership will enhance our historic preservation curricula, provide life-changing student opportunities, and further our goals to preserve the rich cultural legacy of the civil rights movement.”

The initiative is supported by the J.M. Kaplan Fund and Kevin Penn, chair of the Board of Overseers at the Weitzman School.

 “The J.M. Kaplan Fund is extremely pleased to support this new partnership between Tuskegee and Penn,” says Amy Freitag, executive director. “These two venerable institutions have much to learn from one another and together they can lift up some of America’s most important yet threatened heritage.”

To find out more, contact Randall Mason at rfmason@design.upenn.edu.