Preservation School

The Historic Districts Council presents a series of general interest classes for civic organizations, community board members, grassroots preservationists and anyone interested in how to preserve neighborhood character. HDC’s classes will provide you with general knowledge and vocabulary about historic preservation practice in New York City. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Preservation School – Old Buildings New Ideas

Architect and architectural historian Françoise Bollack presents a talk based on her new book “Old Buildings New Idea: An Alternative History of Additions, Adaptations, Reuse and Design Inventions.” She provides an overview of 1,500 years of architectural history. Some architectural transformations are modest, some are revolutionary. Ms. Bollack shines a light on the hidden side of the accepted narrative of the history of architecture, exploring work which transforms existing buildings to build a way forward, through adaptations, additions and visual shifts. Studying thirty buildings across Europe, North America and South America, spanning from the early Middle Ages to the end of the 20th century, the lecture examines the creative possibilities of working with existing buildings. Through arresting images, the talk illustrates how formal inventions can shape architecture and our environment over time in a built world, constantly in a state of becoming. As the environment is increasingly impacted by climate, Ms. Bollack taps into our deep cultural knowledge about the inventive use and re-use of buildings. Françoise Bollack explores the formal inventions born of these adaptation and additions – as a survival strategy and as a strategy of artistic development. Her talk provides an alternative to the dominant view which sees conservation and preservation of historic buildings as a 20th century creation.

Françoise Astorg Bollack is an architect, architectural historian and an educator. She is a practicing architect and the founder of Françoise Bollack Architects, whose practice focuses on the design opportunities of working with existing buildings. Ms. Bollack is also an adjunct Associate Professor of Historic Preservation in the Historic Preservation program of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. In addition, she is on the Board of Directors of the Historic Districts Council and the Board of the City Club of New York and the Chair of its preservation committee.

“Old Buildings, New Ideas: A Selective Architectural History of Additions, Adaptations, Reuse and Design Invention” by Françoise Astorg Bollack is available for purchase online by visiting:…

In this Preservation School class Matt Lamb, a location manager known for his work on iconic productions such as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Godfather of Harlem, Life & Beth, Girls5eva, and many other projects, delves into the fascinating process of researching and discovering locations that authentically represent diverse cultures and specific periods in time. He shares insights on how he collaborates with communities to highlight the importance of community engagement in his work. Such efforts can often bring little-known neighborhoods to life on the screen. Matt emphasizes the significance of finding locations that accurately portray the stories being told, creating a compelling visual narrative that enhances the overall production. Through his expertise and experiences, he provides valuable insights into the world of location management and its impact on helping film and television audiences appreciate the role of historic preservation in telling the city’s story.

The program is moderated by Lorna Nowvé, a member of HDC’s board of directors. She has worked on a variety of New York-centered projects, including Only Murders In The Building, Law & Order, and Nurse Jackie.

Instructor: Matt Lamb

Cultural resource surveys are fundamental to documenting, analyzing and ultimately defining the qualities and significance of a place, be it a park, neighborhood, or whole town. Sometimes they represent the first step in creating a preservation plan or historic district. At other times they are a means to reassess an existing district’s boundaries, themes, or period of significance. This is particularly important as the field moves to address longstanding inequities around what merits preservation. In this class, Marissa discusses how to carry out a meaningful cultural resource survey from structuring one to engaging the local community, collecting and interpreting data, and crafting a set of findings that builds towards preservation action.

Marissa Marvelli is an independent historic preservation consultant who has completed a wide range of surveys, National Register nominations, and historic tax credit projects. Her 2021-2022 reconnaissance-level resource survey of El Barrio/East Harlem South has garnered two state-wide preservation awards.

Instructor: Marissa Marvelli

NYC Parks is steward to many of New York City’s culturally significant sites, including city landmarks, historic houses, public monuments and art, and parks of historic or cultural importance. In this class, led by Historic Preservation Officer Sybil Young and Senior Project Manager for Landscape Architecture Imelda Bernstein, RLA, you learn how NYC Parks cares for these sites, how they intersect with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and what role everyday New Yorkers can play in helping to maintain and preserve these precious sites.

Instructors: Sybil Young and Imelda Bernstein

Licensed NYC Tour Guide Ann McDermott presents this Preservation School about becoming a tour guide. In this class Ann explains the steps you should take to become a tour guide. She discusses best practices for developing and leading a tour and provides different tactics for in-person tours vs. virtual tours. You will learn how to do research, prepare a route, and how to ensure you are heard on the loud New York City streets. If you’ve ever considered becoming a NYC tour guide, this class is for you!

Instructor: Ann McDermott

Preservation School: Public Design Commission

The Public Design Commission (PDC) has jurisdiction over permanent structures, landscape architecture, and art proposed on or over City-owned property. Their mission is to advocate for innovative, sustainable, and equitable design of public spaces and civic structures, with a goal of improving the public realm throughout the five boroughs. They maintain an archive which is open to the public that includes projects for permanent works of architecture, landscape architecture, and art proposed on or over City-owned property dating from 1902 to the present. In this class, PDC Executive Director Sreoshy Banerjea and her team explain the vision and mission of PDC, the types of projects it has purview over, and the public process for testifying on projects at PDC and how PDC projects are reviewed when they are located in historic districts.

Instructor: Kenneth Cobb

New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) promotes the quality and affordability of the city’s housing and the strength and diversity of its many neighborhoods. Michael Sandler, HPD Assistant Commissioner for Neighborhood Development and Stabilization provides background on the city’s affordable housing crises and HPD’s role in creating and preserving affordable housing and maintaining the quality of the city’s housing stock.

Instructor: Michael Sandler


New York City Department of Records and Information Services/Municipal Archives: The Municipal Archives at the NYC Department of Records and Information Services preserves and makes available the historical records of New York City municipal government. Assistant Commissioner Kenneth Cobb explains how to utilize the agency’s resources for historical research. Dating from the early seventeenth century to the present, the Archives holds the records depicting the daily work of city government, including paper records, digital collections, web archives, still and moving images, ledgers and docket books, vital records, cartographic materials, blueprints, and sound recordings. The class will teach you how to access and use these important resources for documenting New York City’s building infrastructure.

Instructor: Kenneth Cobb

Dr. Keith Taylor, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 10’s Landmarks Committee, and resident of the Six to Celebrate neighborhood Dorrance Brooks Historic District, and Christina M. Vágvölgyi, Historic Site Restoration Coordinator for the NY State Historic Preservation Office present this Preservation School on navigating life after designation. In this class, Christina provides information on what financial support is available to homeowners and who can work on historic homes. In addition, they both discuss what can be done about enforcing building owners to be responsible for their buildings in order to prevent demolition by neglect and provide some best practices advice for homeowners and renters in a historic district.

Instructor: Dr. Keith Taylor

In this class Charu Chaudhry, registered architect and Vice President at Thornton Tomasetti, discusses the risks and strategies of constructing adjacent to existing and historic properties. Construction activities next to historic buildings are a common occurrence especially in dense urban areas of New York City and need to be managed carefully. Urban environments contain buildings with shared party walls or adjoining property lines. Activities like demolition, excavation, dewatering and construction carry greater risk of causing damage when performed close to existing buildings, especially if the new building is taller or deeper into the ground than the previous building on the same lot. Where new buildings replace a demolished portion of a row structure, there are additional considerations related to bracing and weatherproofing of former party lines. There is a need to proactively communicate, where experienced design professionals are engaged to evaluate risks and develop mitigation strategies, which often include a Pre-Construction survey and monitoring of building movement and/or ground vibration and establish protection measures. There is a need for proper documentation of the condition and previous modifications of older structures which may be susceptible to damage from adjacent construction than new structures.

Instructor: Charu Chaudhry

Esta presentación explora los beneficios y requisitos para que un lugar sea elegible como emblema histórico de la Ciudad de Nueva York. La presentación se centra en el proceso para otorgar estatus de emblema histórico a un lugar y proporciona estudios de casos que ilustran los posibles resultados de este proceso. Esta presentación se lleva a cabo en español y está dirigida a los residentes de habla hispana que desean tener una mejor comprensión sobre la ley de emblemas en la Ciudad de Nueva York.

Instructor: Diego Robayo

Preservation School: Challenges in Cellar and Basement Use in NYC

With the recent flooding of cellar and basement apartments in NYC as a result of hurricane Ida, particularly in Queens, providing apartments in these spaces has become even more debated. Located in a storefront office in Sunnyside, Laura Heim Architect has worked on numerous residential properties in Queens dealing with the issue of legal cellar/basement use. Her own office cellar has been impacted. While in concept, making existing illegal basement and cellar apartments up to code and safe could aid in alleviating the housing shortage, the reality is that there are numerous hurdles to accomplishing this goal while providing safe and healthy spaces. This class, led by Laura Heim, FAIA LEED AP, will address the basic zoning and code restrictions which make the legalization of existing cellars and basements in many cases difficult and costly, if not impossible. The high standards set by the building and zoning codes have evolved over time to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers. Join us as we delve into this complex issue facing NYC in detail.

Instructor: Laura Heim

Preservation School: Urban Planning in NYC

In this class, Urban Planner Jeff Reuben provides an overview and helps demystify major components of urban planning in New York City. He presents practical information about zoning, the land use approvals process, and environmental review, describing the role of public entities including the City Planning Commission, Department of City Planning, Board of Standards and Appeals, and the City Council. He will also explain how planning relates to historic preservation efforts and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Instructor: Jeff Reuben

Preservation School: Windows on the Bowery: 400 Years on NYC’s Oldest Street

This illustrated talk looks at the street’s history and efforts to preserve and protect it, including designation to the National Register of Historic Places, and the acclaimed historic signage project that inspired the book. Despite being the city’s oldest thoroughfare, and what one historian referred to as “an incubator of American popular culture,” the Bowery is the city’s most endangered historic streetscape.

Instructor: David Mulkins

Preservation School – Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation

Preservation by the numbers. In 2016, the New York Landmarks Conservancy published the first comprehensive study of the economic benefits of preservation in New York City. The results confirmed what advocates have often said: that preservation is an economic engine for the City, creating jobs and attracting tourists. The study also showed that historic districts are dense and diverse. Andrea Goldwyn, Director of Public Policy for The New York Landmarks Conservancy explains the study and the 2020 update that found historic buildings are a top choice for all kinds of businesses and will be critical to the City’s recovery.

Instructor: Andrea Goldwyn

Historic Windows 101: Restoration Techniques “Cracked Open”

Charu Chaudhry, registered architect and Vice President
 at Thornton Tomasetti will offer a comprehensive overview of historic windows of various architectural styles, types and materials in this class. Common conditions, restoration techniques and detailing will be illustrated with real-life examples and case studies. Participants will leave the class equipped with an understanding of evaluation of the existing conditions and selection strategies of appropriate restoration techniques. Various replacement windows and their associated components, such as glazing, frames, flashings, etc., will also be discussed.

Instructor: Charu Chaudhry

Writing an RFE for the LPC

Have a building, site, or group of buildings that you think merit New York City Landmark designation (and therefore Landmark protections)? Join Sarah Bean Apmann, former Director of Research and Preservation for Village Preservation and current preservation consultant in learning about the process of submitting a Request for Eligibility (RFE) to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). Here you will learn about identifying LPC designation priorities, conducting research, and creating a case for significance.

Instructor: Sara Bean Apmann

How to Engage & Nurture Community Groups

Sam Addeo is the Director of Community and Development at Urban Archive and an Urbanist based in NYC. Working at the intersection of museum tech, digital storytelling, and archives, she will offer an overview of how to build people-centric projects through the power of community and new media. Participants will leave the class equipped with an understanding of how to activate communities through creative programming and engagement, as well as effective ways to generate and leverage feedback loops.

Instructor: Sam Addeo

Preservation during the Pandemic

Participants of the class will learn about grassroots organizing from the East 25th Street Historic District Initiative from neighborhood leader Julia Charles and HDC’s Director of Advocacy & Community Outreach, Kelly Carroll. Class attendees will gain an in depth understanding of what was involved to create this initiative, the strategies that were executed to culminate to a successful outcome in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Preservationists, community activists and preservation enthusiasts should walk away feeling empowered to either jump start their preservation campaigns or retrieve helpful tips to implement in their existing preservation campaigns.

Instructors: Julia Charles and Kelly Carroll

Planning for Preservation: How Nonprofits and Municipalities Can Access Grant Funds for Historic Building Assessments

The Preservation League of NYS/NYSCA partnership grant programs support site-specific consulting reports for historic buildings owned by nonprofits or municipalities. Learn about these programs and how arts and cultural institutions have successfully invested in architectural, engineering, and/or conservation reports to guide their capital restoration projects.

Instructor: Erin Tobin

Zoning 101

Zoning shapes the City.  Sometimes, it can be a very powerful ally in the preservationist toolkit.  Other times, zoning can bring substantial change to historic neighborhoods.  In this class, zoning specialist George Janes, will examine zoning and its impact on preservation.  It will start with a review of the basics of zoning and how it works, and its history in New York City, and then move into examples of how zoning can be used to preserve.  It will also provide examples of how zoning can change neighborhoods.  It will conclude with what people can do to change zoning, so that it works the way they want it to.

Instructor: George Janes

Virtual Preservation School – Oral History 101

Oral historian Sarah Dziedzic will lead a workshop on conducting oral history interviews to document historic preservation efforts. As current oral historian for the New York Preservation Archive Project, Sarah will cite examples from the Archive Project’s collections of interviews, and will discuss archival and ethical considerations, equipment, and how to conduct productive interviews about institutional and administration history, advocacy efforts, and detailed, place-based history.

Instructor: Sarah Dziedzic

Virtual Preservation School – How to Research NYC Buildings: Cultural Significance

This course delves into tools and strategies for researching buildings in NYC, including various repositories and document types. Learn the basics of how to investigate the origins and stories behind historic properties. This course will focuses on resources for determining a building’s cultural, as well as architectural, significance.

Instructor: Sarah Bean Apmann

Virtual Preservation School – Preservation 101 

This introductory course will provide an overview of the various regulations and funding mechanisms that exist to protect historic buildings in NYC. The course will also outline the various organizations and entities that work to uphold and strengthen these mechanisms.

Instructor: Simeon Bankoff

Virtual Preservation School – Building Materials

The buildings of New York City are constructed using a wide variety of materials: terra-cotta, brick, brownstone, concrete and much more. Join Dan Allen, preservation architect, to learn how these materials are employed, how to identify them, and “scratch the surface” on their maintenance and conservation.

Instructor: Dan Allen

How to Research NYC Buildings

This class will guide participants on tools and strategies for researching buildings in New York City, including various repositories and document types. Learn the basics of how to investigate the origins and stories behind historic properties.

Instructor: Gregory Dietrich

NYC Architectural Styles

This session focuses on common architectural styles and building types found in New York City’s historic built environment, and instruct participants on how to identify them by their distinguishing features.

Instructor: Gregory Dietrich

Social Media for Preservation Campaigns

This class will teach participants how to harness the power of social media to enhance preservation campaigns, build a constituency and sound a call-to-action. Participants will leave with practical strategies to better manage their organizational “brand” and drive traffic to social media profiles and websites.

Instructor: Cristiana Peña

Architectural Photography

Historic Preservation is first and foremost a visual field. This class will provide tips and tricks to improve your photos of buildings and streetscapes in order to maximize their impact.

Instructor: Lynn Massimo

Common NYC Building Materials

This class provides an overview of common building materials used in New York City, including terra-cotta, brick, brownstone, concrete and much more. The session will explain how these materials are employed, how to identify them, and “scratch the surface” on their maintenance and conservation.

Instructor: Dan Allen

Reading Architectural Drawings

Architectural drawings and renderings illustrate the often complicated design and construction plans for proposed building projects. This class will teach participants how to evaluate such documents in order to understand and analyze an upcoming construction project.

Instructor: Brendan Coburn

Preservation Tools for NYC

This introductory course will provide an overview of the regulations and funding mechanisms (both at the City and State levels) that exist to protect historic resources in New York City. The course will also outline the various organizations and entities that work to uphold and strengthen these mechanisms.

Instructor: Simeon Bankoff

NYC Architectural Styles: 53rd & Modern

NYC contains a wealth of historic architecture in a vast array of typologies and styles spanning generations. While previous iterations of the NYC Architectural Styles course have focused on rowhouse styles, this course focus’s on Modernism, explored through the lens of one particularly rich thoroughfare: 53rd Street, river to river.

Instructor: Sean Khorsandi

Overview of NYC Building Materials: Terra Cotta

n this course on Building Materials commonly found in NYC, instructor Daniel Allen (HDC Board President) will focus on a ubiquitous material found across the ages and across the boroughs: terra cotta. The session will explain how this material is employed (past and present), how to identify it, and “scratch the surface” on its maintenance and conservation.

Instructor: Dan Allen

Research NYC Buildings: Cultural Significance

This course delves into tools and strategies for researching buildings in NYC, including various repositories and document types. Learn the basics of how to investigate the origins and stories behind historic properties. This course will focuses on resources for determining a building’s cultural, as well as architectural, significance.

Instructor – Amanda Davis


This course will help students better understand this new typology that is dominating our neighborhoods and the future of the NYC skyline. By discussing history, policy, development, and advocacy, this class aims to provide the “short scoop on tall buildings”.
Instructor: Sean Khorsandi

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