Since 2014, the Historic Preservation Program at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture has partnered with the National Park Service on collaborative projects that provide valuable learning opportunities for students while supporting the preservation efforts of the National Park Service. Through this collaboration, students in the program engage in hands-on learning experiences where they can apply their theoretical knowledge to practical preservation efforts. The students’ documentation efforts and their condition assessments of historic buildings also provide the National Park Service with critical information for making informed decisions regarding the preservation, maintenance, and interpretation of these buildings.
STUDENT PARTICIPATION: DOCUMENTING HISTORIC BUILDINGS AND PLACEMAKING EDUCATION
One of the key aspects of the partnership is the active participation of students in the documentation of historic buildings within the parks. Through meticulous fieldwork, students learn to observe, measure, and record the physical attributes and conditions of buildings, immersing themselves in a process that requires a deep understanding of architectural elements, historical context, and preservation principles.
By engaging in these activities, students develop critical thinking skills, research capabilities, and an appreciation for the complexity of historic preservation. They also learn to navigate the challenges posed by historical gaps, incomplete documentation, and evolving conservation practices. In addition, the students’ work contributes to the body of knowledge about these historic buildings, ensuring that valuable information is documented for future research, interpretation, and preservation efforts.
Beyond the technical skills and historical research, students also gain firsthand experience working with a real client and contemporary building conservation issues while supporting the preservation of inspiring public spaces that reflect our country’s cultural heritage and enhance our sense of place.
With each national park project, students also have the opportunity for fieldwork and educational travel—enhancing their historic preservation coursework. Click the photos in the gallery below for more specific information about each National Park Service project.