Sara Bronin

Sara Bronin is a Mexican-American architect and attorney whose interdisciplinary research focuses on how law and policy can foster more equitable, sustainable, well-designed, and connected places. As a leading voice on historic preservation law and related land use practices, Bronin was recently confirmed by the Senate and assumed the role of the 12th Chair of the U.S. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).  She will be on a public service leave from Cornell for the duration of her federal service. The council advises the President and Congress on decisions and policies that promote the preservation and enhancement of national historic resources.

In addition to her books and treatises on land use and historic preservation law, Bronin has written more than two dozen articles on renewable energy, climate change, housing, urban planning, transportation, real estate development, and federalism. Her forthcoming book, Key to the City (W.W. Norton Press), will explore how zoning rules rule our lives.

She created the National Zoning Atlas to translate and standardize tens of thousands of zoning codes across the country. She has advised the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Sustainable Development Code, has served on the board of Latinos in Heritage Conservation, and founded Desegregate Connecticut. Previously, she led the award-winning, unanimously adopted overhaul of the zoning code and city plan of Hartford, Connecticut. Bronin holds a juris doctor from Yale Law School, a master of science from the University of Oxford (Rhodes Scholar), as well as a B.Arch. and B.A. from the University of Texas–Austin.

Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • Housing
  • Sustainability
  • Historic preservation law
  • Land use law
  • Renewable energy law
  • Transportation law

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Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • Principal Investigator, "Automating Analysis of Zoning Codes for the National Zoning Atlas," National Science Foundation Human-Environment and Geographical Sciences Program (2023) 
  • Principal Investigator, "National Zoning Atlas," Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Open Philanthropy, Cornell Center for Data Science for Enterprise & Society, and Cornell Center for Social Sciences (2021, 2022)
  • Coprincipal Investigator, "Mechanically Adaptive Living Structural Materials," National Science Foundation Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (2022)
  • Richard H. Driehaus Form-Based Code Award for Hartford Zoning Code, Form-Based Codes Institute and Smart Growth America (2020)

Exhibitions and Presentations (Selected)

  • National Association of Preservation Commissions Annual Preservation Caucus, Unveiling the Local Historic Preservation Census Keynote (2022)
  • University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design Speaker, The Equity Payoff of the National Zoning Atlas (2022)
  • University of Texas School of Architecture, Commencement Address (2022)
  • Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation Paul S. Byard Memorial Lecture, Can Preservation Law Evolve in its Second Century? (2022) 

Publications (Selected)

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