Programs

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: 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


SUPERTALLS: So What?

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

Help preserve New York’s architectural history with a contribution to HDC

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