Character Studies

Knowing what historic resources exist is a fundamental aspect of sustainable, effective planning. However, few cities have the time or resources to survey and analyze each building within their boundaries. Character studies are an innovative response to the challenge of producing practical, plan-ready data about historic resources across large areas quickly and inexpensively.

Whitney Studio Ceiling, New York

As one of the few surviving examples of the work of artist Robert Winthrop Chanler, the Whitney Studio stands today as a masterpiece of early twentieth-century decorative art. Located on historic MacDougal Alley in Greenwich Village, the site is positioned at what once was the center for the development of the early modern art movement in America.

Conservation of map tile. (ACL)

Buildings, like people, pass through time. That passage, regardless of its duration, describes the lives of buildings. This project examines the relatively short life of an extraordinary building that played host to over six million visitors, the New York State Pavilion. Conceived, built and in use as designed for only two years, the Pavilion was witness to one of the most popular events of the 1960s, the New York World’s Fair.

The early cemeteries of New Orleans have long fascinated visitors to the city since in the early 19th century. Today, after 200 years as the city’s earliest surviving burial grounds, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (1789) and the slightly later and larger St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 (1823) remain popular historic sites to increasing numbers of visitors to the French Quarter.

Brick and tile manufacturing was once ubiquitous throughout much of the United States. Today, however, only a fraction of these industrial complexes survive. Of those standing, almost none preserves the buildings and machinery, kiln technology, and overall industrial landscape as the Western Clay Manufacturing Company site on the outskirts of Helena, Montana.

Discovered in 1888, Spruce Tree House is one of the largest and best preserved alcove sites in Mesa Verde National Park. Containing over eighty rooms and seven kivas and open areas with very complete surface finishes with geometric embellishments, Spruce Tree House provides a remarkable window onto the region’s Ancestral Puebloan communities of the 13th century AD.

Housing lush springs in the arid Arizona Strip, Pipe Spring has historically been a valuable resource for the Kaibab Paiute tribe and Mormon pioneers due to its history and location within the evolving Southwest landscape.

As one of the principal archaeological sites in Central Anatolia, Gordion premieres royal Phrygian architecture that includes a nearly complete monumental ninth-century BCE masonry gate, along with the remains of a once impressive citadel.  Few sites in the world offer a glimpse of the early civilizations of the Late Bronze and Iron Ages.

On July 21, 2013, a diverse group of aspiring conservators―graduate students hailing from Montana, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Italy, and China―arrived in Helena, ready to embark on a new kind of summer residency at the Archie Bray Foundation. Swapping ribs and glaze for trowels and mortar, the students and faculty of HSPV 750, “Heritage Conservation Praxis,” left the Bray four weeks later, trailing brick dust in their wake. Together, they had brought Kiln No.
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden

This recent publication of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia celebrates 15 successful new nominations to the Philadelphia register - no less than 8 of the 15 were written by students and recent graduates of PennDesign's Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. Kudos to all involved!

DownloadsDesignation Celebration 2013


This web page has been designed in the Fall of 2000 by students of the University of Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Program as a service to provide Philadelphia residents easy direct access to historic preservation information on the internet.