2005/06a: Ask Me
Q&A 17 years ago No Comments

I am an interior design student, but I am also interested in Historic Preservation. My school doesn”t have a specific HP program, and I don”t want to transfer. If I want to eventually get more serious about HP, will I have to go back to school or can I just learn more in the field while I”m practicing as an interior designer”

(submitted by Michael B.)

I am happy to have the opportunity to discuss the area of Historic Preservation as I am a preservationist at heart. It seems that I am drawn to living and working in older buildings. In doing so my appreciation of old architecture and my determination for preserving elements of these spaces has evolved beyond my interior design education.

The knowledge that I have gained in this specialized area of design has come from many sources. How far you want to progress into this design specialty and how you want to present your expertise in this field will determine to what length you want to continue your studies.

My first recommendation would be to join the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Their magazine and online newsletter will offer a wealth of information. In addition they sponsor travel and study courses throughout the United States. They also sponsor an annual conference. Attendance at the conference would be an invaluable opportunity to network with many experts in the field, view resources and attend courses.

If you live in a large city or town ” especially those with significant historical districts such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Charleston and the like ” I would join their Historical Societies and Museums. It has been my experience that almost every city and even smaller towns have fortunately jumped on the bandwagon of preserving their heritage. So no matter where you live you are sure to find opportunities to become involved on some level with historic preservation.

Other groups offer educational courses and tours, often for Continuing Education Units (CEUs). The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and other more specific groups such as the Art Deco Society would be good possibilities for short courses on specific areas of interest.

Obviously the internet has become a great source of information for research. Cornell University has a new website called Preservnet which lists many topics of common interest for historic preservationists.

I would also recommend that you contact colleges and universities in the city you live in for courses they might offer, especially those with design and architecture curriculums. Again, the larger cities are most likely to have this specialty. They may offer long-distance learning, online courses or even a summer course program.

I applaud your interest in Historic Preservation and encourage you to pursue your interest. I have found my endeavors in this area to be extremely rewarding. Preserving architecture and interiors, adapting them for reuse and searching out the appropriate materials and furnishings takes an incredible amount of patience. You must also be willing to “stand your ground” with contractors and even building owners who think that it is easier and less expensive to “tear it out.” However the end result is the incredible satisfaction of having contributed to preserving the history of our nation as well as creating unique places to live and work.