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Career Story: Architect And Historic Preservationist

Architect And Historic Preservationist

Job Title: Architect

Education: BFA, Cornell University •• MA, Architecture, University of Virginia

Previous Experience: I worked in private architecture firms before joining the Federal government and working as a historic preservation architect.

Job Tasks: For the past 17 years I've worked as a historical architect for the National Park Service, specializing in the care and treatment of historic buildings inside and outside of national parks. I work on all types of historic structures throughout the country. I spent years working on the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and the Washington Monument in DC, but am now working with a public/private partnership program, which is dedicated to the preservation of privately-owned property of all sizes, shapes and styles (houses, industrial buildings, hotels, apartment buildings, farm buildings, stores, etc.) The federal government offers tax credits as incentives to private property owners to rehabilitate historic buildings and together with state offices - there is a State Historic Preservation Office in every state - we make sure the work is done sensitively and in accordance with national historic preservation guidelines.

I also write technical manuals on how people can properly care for their historic buildings and give regular presentations on preservation-related issues. I give talks at conferences, but also make a point of speaking with students of all ages at local schools. Teaching kids about architecture and historic preservation is very important.

Saving historic buildings is a very 'green' thing to do. You are basically recycling building materials and not starting from scratch, which saves all kinds of energy. This is not often acknowledged and I try hard to get the word out that this is an environmentally responsible practice.

I find my job very interesting and like preserving part of our country's history through saving historic structures. There is much we can learn from the past.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I love giving back to communities by saving historic buildings, providing affordable housing and revitalizing communities. The worst part of my job is that my work load is so large and I'm under pressure to meet deadlines!

Job Tips: If you're interested in studying architecture, don't forget about historic buildings. They're really fascinating and it's not all about flashy new construction! I didn't realize historic preservation was an option until I was well into my studies and I'm glad I made this discovery. Studying architectural history is another option. We also need more engineers (structural, mechanical, civil, etc.) who are sensitive to the unique requirements of historic structures.

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