Michael Tomlan

Michael A. Tomlan directs the graduate program in historic preservation planning. He teaches courses that deal with documentation techniques; fieldwork; preservation practice and urban change; the relationships between museums and the public; and preservation, planning, and religion.

Professor Tomlan is also the director of graduate studies in real estate. In that program, he serves as chair of the admissions committee, faculty editor of the Cornell Real Estate Review, and facilitates the entry of Baker Program graduate students in the annual real estate finance competition.

Tomlan served for a decade as chair of the Senior Board of Advisers to the Global Heritage Fund (Palo Alto, California), reviewing nominations for and the management of conservation projects in Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America. He has consulted on projects abroad for the World Monuments Fund, the J. Paul Getty Trust, and domestic redevelopments in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Additionally, Tomlan is current chair of the board of Yosothor, based in Cambodia; serves as a project director for the National Council for Preservation Education; and president of Historic Urban Plans, Inc., in Ithaca, New York.

Tomlan received his B.Arch. from the University of Tennessee, his M.S.H.P. from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. from Cornell.

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Classes (Selected)

  • CRP 3601/6601 Museum and the PublicEvaluates different types of museums (art, science, history, arboreta, etc.), and their constantly evolving missions in contemporary societies. The material is addressed through site visits, lectures by faculty and guests, readings, case studies and a team semester-long project. Issues covered include the nature of collections; the audience; the purpose and role of museums; political and cultural questions about collecting, history and interpretation; governance and management. It also discusses the core ethical and intellectual values and positions implied or expressed by the institutions. Students will undertake a comprehensive planning project for a local museum, to be presented to the client at the end of the semester.
  • CRP 5348/5349 Design Connect
  • CRP 5600 Documentation for PreservationMethods of identifying, recording, collecting, processing, and analyzing information dealing with historic and architecturally significant structures, sites, and objects. Students are assigned common problems in documentation at various scales and propose solutions.
  • CRP 5660 Fieldwork/Workshop in Historic PreservationStudents participate in field study of city planning, preservation, economic and community development, and real estate issues in large eastern U.S. cities. Preparatory lecture(s) and a brief summary essay are required.
  • CRP 6650 Preservation Practice and Urban ChangeExamination of fundamental planning concepts and issues as they relate to historic preservation. Neighborhood revitalization, federal housing programs, the role of public and private institutions, displacement, and other social issues are among the primary topics.

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • Elected to the College of Fellows for the Association for Preservation Technology International (2005)

Publications (Selected)

  • Historic Preservation: Caring for Our Expanding Legacy (2014)
  • Editor, Preservation of What, For Whom? (1997)
  • Tinged with Gold: Hop Culture in the United States (1992)