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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kathryn Rogers Merlino
URBDP 587
Seattle Campus

Preservation and the Vernacular Environment

Exploration of theoretical, methodological, and practical issues related to the preservation of vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes in the United States.

Class description

Urban planners and designers, architects, landscape architects, and government officials increasingly are being asked to assess the relative merits of saving ordinary features of the urban landscape such as commercial blocks, strips and buildings, warehouses and sheds, wharves and piers, and abandoned streetcar tracks and railroad spurs. Yet the past emphases that preservationists placed on saving on the most significant architect-designed buildings, and protecting only those places associated with notable individuals or mainstream events in American history, have left many environmental design professionals without a coherent intellectual framework for making important decisions about the preservation of vernacular elements of the cultural landscape and historic built environment.

This seminar will explore the theoretical, methodological, and practical implications of preserving the vernacular environments. While we will familiarize ourselves with the existing literature in the field, which has tended to focus on vernacular architectural in non-urban environments, the seminar will raise new questions about its implications for urban architecture, cultural landscapes, and places that have unexplored significance for interpreting the historical development of the city and region.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The subject will be approached through a combination of readings, discussion, and research. In a term project, students will have the opportunity to focus their research on documenting the historical significance, physical character, current condition, and future possibilities for preserving and element of the vernacular environment that holds particular interest for them.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Grading is based on: attendance and participation during the seminar; presentations of readings, a research proposal, and a final presentation of the research project; and a 10-page original research paper.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Kathryn Rogers Merlino
Date: 12/09/2003