Historic Preservation Planning Celebrates 40 Years
CRP's Historic Preservation Planning (HPP) program marked its 40th anniversary with a two-day celebration in mid-October. Alumni, faculty, students, invited guests, and community members attended a series of lectures, exhibitions, receptions and dinners, and a full-day symposium on current critical issues in the fields of historic preservation and planning.
The festivities were opened with a lecture by Trudi Sandmeier (M.A. HPP '00), who is currently director of graduate programs in heritage conservation, and associate professor of practice in architecture at the University of Southern California.
"The lecture was fascinating," commented Kris Hartley, a current visiting faculty member in CRP. "Sandmeier focused on California and I work in Asia, but I see that conservationists share similar challenges no matter where they work."
A reception and panel discussion for an exhibition titled Work in Progress: The Restoration of Lynn Hall followed the opening lecture. The show was an outgrowth of HPP's community partnership effort to restore the modern-era property located in West Allegany, Pennsylvania. Panelists included Lynn Hall's current property owners, Gary and Sue DeVore; Mahyar Hadighi (M.A. HPP '14); and Werner Goehner, professor in the Department of Architecture.
"HPP's involvement in the restoration of Lynn Hall is an excellent way for students to experience the architecture of the Hall family from a preservation perspective," Goehner noted. "As an owner of one of the beautiful buildings that was also designed by Raymond Viner Hall and built by his father Walter, I was delighted that Jeff Chusid invited me to speak about this architect-builder collaboration that has contributed to the modernist architectural history of the area."
The full-day symposium was held at Ithaca's State Theatre. Alumni traveled from around the country to present their research, current work, and overall perspectives on different aspects of preservation and planning. Panel sessions included a retrospective overview of the HPP program, a discussion of approaches to architectural and cultural preservation, and, more broadly, the politics of practice in the field.
"I'm excited to be here; to come back to Ithaca, see my classmates, and be a part of the panel that reflects on the program's history," commented Ross Pristera (M.A. HPP '09), a historical preservationist for the University of Western Florida Historic Trust. "I appreciate the opportunity to speak to HPP's hands-on approach to teaching and connect what I learned as a student to what I do now as a professional."
Tania G. Werbizky (M.A. HPP '92), a presenter at the symposium, was one of the first students to study historic preservation at Cornell. "We had many questions about our futures, but thanks to our instructors including Stephen Jacobs, Barclay Jones, Stuart Stein, and John Reps, we understood that we were shaping an exciting new area of academic study," she said. "The speakers at the symposium showed how the field has matured. Over the years, HPP has kept up with the times by adding courses such as preservation finance and providing opportunities for in-depth fieldwork in both local and global communities. Certainly my deep involvement with the latter aspect of the program, as both a student and later as an instructor, shaped my 25-year career of community service and advocacy at the Preservation League of New York State."
The final session of the symposium included a keynote lecture on the preservation of sprawl by Bob Bruegmann, distinguished professor emeritus of the University of Illinois at Chicago, with responses from Sandmeier and CRP assistant professors Suzanne Charles and Jennifer Minner.
The specific date of the celebration was also significant. HPP Program Director Michael Tomlan noted, "Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the HPP program on October 15 was particularly poignant as it was on that date in 1966 that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Historic Preservation Act into law." Tomlan has been a CRP faculty member since 1979 and was with the department when, in 1986, Barclay Jones and Stephen Jacobs founded the program he now directs. "While the campaign to save significant properties continues, it was particularly gratifying to see some of our most experienced alumni inspiring the current students and community, urging them to carry forward the work to be done."
The weekend's events were capped by a formal banquet on Saturday night at which the HPP program received a certificate of appreciation from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, which saluted the program "for its extraordinary role in the development and growth of historic preservation in New York State and across the country."
CRP Associate Professor Jeffrey Chusid, who coordinated the weekend's events, expressed his thanks for the efforts of current students and alumni who played important roles in every aspect of the planning and implementation of the 40th-anniversary celebration. "It is a credit to the profound affection and respect held by generations of our graduates for the program that so many came together to help ensure that the weekend would be a great success."
Events were cosponsored by Historic Ithaca — a local partner organization since the establishment of the HPP program — as well as the Aline Stein Endowment; Environmental Design and Research, Landscape Architecture, and Environmental Services D.P.C.; the Association for Preservation Technology – Northeast Chapter; the Department of City and Regional Planning; Historic Preservation Planning Program Alumni, Inc.; Preservation Pennsylvania; and Vertical Access, Inc.
By Edith Fikes