Beth Burns

Richmond, Virginia

Architecture is the one art that defines everyone in some way, and the way structures exist in relation to people has always intrigued me.

Why did you choose Cornell and AAP?

I can't say I would have come here had I not visited the open house. I had my reservations, what with it being in a small town in the middle of nowhere New York, and I had been especially spoiled by the rich urban fabric and preservation focus of Charleston. What sold me was the "any person, any subject" concept that was so heavily pushed by the university and the department. I had no desire to have someone else pick my classes — I figured at this point I'm old enough to know what I like, and I want to take what applies to my interests.

What inspired you to join the field of historic preservation planning?

I fell into the field when I ended up at school in Charleston. I had intended to focus mainly on art history, but that turned to architecture history which slowly gave way to historic preservation and community planning, and from there I was hooked. It encompassed everything I liked, between buildings, streets, and art. Architecture is the one art that defines everyone in some way, and the way structures exist in relation to people has always intrigued me.

What experiences have contributed to your sense of belonging at AAP?

I enjoyed my Documentation for Preservation class with Michael Tomlan. During one of the lectures, Professor Tomlan gave images of a structure that had been added to over time and from those we determined the building campaigns and periods of construction. I felt like a building detective — not going to lie.

What are your extracurricular interests and how have you incorporated them into your college life?

I'm partial to all the hiking opportunities that exist so close by. I never feel like I have time to be bored (as if that's really a possibility with grad school).

What do you hope to accomplish during your time at AAP and after graduation?

In all honesty, I haven't thought that far ahead (read: I have no idea). One day down the line, I would like to end up back in Charleston at the college, but until then I want to experience preservation in as many forms, in as many places, in as many ways as I can.