For practicing design professionals seeking post-professional training, specialization, or change in career path, the one-year Master of Science in Design with a concentration in Historic Preservation (MSD-HP) offers an intensive complement to Weitzman School’s long-standing two-year MSHP degree. Two semesters of elective and required course work are synthesized in a three-week summer capstone studio, which, in 2019, was centered on the George Nakashima Woodworkers Studio in New Hope, PA.
George Nakashima (1905 – 1990) was one of the most prominent furniture designer-craftsmen in the United States in the period after World War II. His 12-acre home and studio in New Hope, PA includes 19 structures designed and constructed by Nakashima between 1946 and 1982 in a unique style blending traditional Japanese elements with cutting-edge structure and materials. Today, this 12-acre National Historic Landmark is both a working furniture studio and a family residence, while welcoming increasing numbers of visitors who seek a greater understanding of Nakashima’s life, work and design principles.
The 2019 Master of Design in Historic Preservation Studio, led by Pamela Hawkes, Professor of Practice in Historic Preservation, focused on understanding this distinctive site, helping to define its many layers of value and meaning, and identifying a range of options to support and preserve the site’s identity and public access at a critical time in its evolution. Students spent several days living on the site and observing operations, as well as visiting a range of sites within the area. They proposed a range of approaches, from signage and repurposing existing structures to a new visitor center on an adjacent property. The report and some of the recommendations are already being implemented by the site.