The purpose of the Heritage Conservation program is to educate students in the preservation of the built environment as part of a comprehensive ethic of environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability. The intent of the curricular program, which leads to a Master of Science in Architecture with a concentration in Heritage Conservation, is:

  • Interdisciplinary, teaching holistic problem-solving within an integrated environment of natural and cultural resources including the disciplines of anthropology, archaeology, architecture, art history, history, landscape architecture, materials science, and planning;
  • Inter-institutional, promoting collaborative engagement between public and private institutions with a curriculum incorporating community service as a method of learning; and
  • International in scope and regional in application, defined by the arid lands geography of the Greater Southwest.

The learning outcomes of the Heritage Conservation concentration are intended to balance theory and practice, as well as research and outreach, including:

  • Awareness of geographic, cultural, technological, economic, and political factors that shape the built environment and of the building traditions of cultural groups and historic periods that define the Greater Southwest.
  • Understanding of heritage conservation terms, concepts, and philosophical foundations; of legal, regulatory, and economic development tools; of treatment standards for historic properties;and of cultural resource management business and ethical principles.
  • Ability to conduct research using primary and secondary information resources; to survey, document, and communicate cultural artifacts, buildings, sites, districts, and cultural landscapes according to professional (Secretary of Interior) standards; to analyze building construction systems, components, and materials to make conservation treatment recommendations; and to interpret the meaning of built environments to a larger audience.

The instructional delivery methods for disseminating these learning outcomes meant to ensure students are ready for the professional workplace include:

  • group projects and individualized work;
  • classroom, seminar, workshop, archive, laboratory, and field venues;
  • collaborations with local, state, tribal, and federal agencies;
  • multiple communication media (oral, written, virtual);
  • peer-reviewed products (research papers, NR nominations, technical reports).

A Graduate Certificate in Heritage Conservation may be earned concurrently with the Master of Science Architecture degree. Eighteen units earned for this Graduate Certificate may be applied directly to the MS degree. The UA Graduate Certificate in Heritage Conservation is accredited by the National Council for Preservation Education.

The Master of Science in Architecture with a concentration in Heritage Conservation is a non-studio based curriculum.

Student Work 

Core Faculty

R. Brooks Jeffery, Professor, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and Associate Vice Provost, Office of Research, Discover and Innovation. Architectural history, documentation, vernacular and cultural landscapes of the Middle East, Latin America, and American Southwest. (rbjeffer@u.arizona.edu )

Gina Chorover, Coordinator, Graduate Heritage Conservation Program, and Lecturer, School of Landscape Architecture and Planning. Historic and cultural landscapes, documentation program. (gchorove@email.arizona.edu)

T.J. Ferguson, Professor, School of Anthropology, Director M.A. Program in Applied Archaeology. Cultural resource management, social identity and cultural affiliation, cultural landscapes, Western Pueblo settlement and land use. (tjf@email.arizona.edu )

Lauri Johnson, Professor, School of Landscape Architecture. Cultural landscapes. (ljohnson@u.arizona.edu)

Nancy Odegaard, Conservator, Arizona State Museum. (odegaard@u.arizona.edu)

Pat O’Brien, Adjunct Professor, Planning. Cultural resource management, National Park Service, American history. (obrienw@email.arizona.edu)

Pamela Vandiver, Professor, Materials Science and Engineering. Materials conservation, building technologies. (vandiver@mse.arizona.edu)


Smith House | Center for Heritage Conservation
The Smith House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, serves as the center for Heritage Conservation from which its instructional, research and community outreach programs are based. The 1904 Queen Anne residence, located across the street from the CALA Building, was home to G.E.P. Smith, agricultural engineer and university faculty member responsible for early research and legislation on Arizona groundwater management. The Smith House contains offices, student work-stations, conference room, and library.

College of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture (CAPLA) Building
The CAPLA Building is the administrative facility for the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture and contains the design studios and faculty offices for the School of Architecture, School of Landscape Architecture and Planning, and the Drachman Institute. In addition, the CAPLA Building houses a variety of facilities for use by the graduate students of all CAPLA programs, including a computer lab, exhibit gallery, visual resources database, as well as a wood, glass, metal, digital modeling, and visualization labs.

Arizona Architectural Archives
The Arizona Architectural Archives was established in 1976 to collect, preserve, document and disseminate records pertaining to the architectural development of southern Arizona. The Archives, located in UA Special Collections, currently houses over 50,000 original drawings of Tucson’s most significant architects, including Roy Place, Henry Jaastad, Josias Joesler, William Wilde, Nicholas Sakellar, and Judith Chafee.

Drachman Institute
The Drachman Institute is the research-based outreach arm of the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA) at the University of Arizona dedicated to sustainable design and planning with a focus on underserved and vulnerable communities. It engages students, staff, faculty, and citizens as an interdisciplinary collaborative striving to make our communities healthier, safer, more equitable, and more beautiful places to live. The Drachman Institute acts as a nexus between community needs and the college's skills and knowledge in architecture, landscape architecture, and planning with a specific focus on affordable housing, neighborhood, community & regional planning, heritage conservation, and public health.

Southwest Center
The Southwest Center seeks to define, illuminate and present the character, of the greater southwest: the heartland of Arizona, New Mexico, Sonora, and Chihuahua, and its peripheries. A particular research interest of the Southwest Center is to document the southwest’s architectural history in the face of dramatic change, to describe comprehensively the architectural cultures of the Sonoran Desert region. It is also the mission of the Southwest Center to seek out, publish and support projects by architects, planners, landscape architects and others who are attempting to apply traditional models, in intelligent and meaningful ways, to contemporary architectural problems.

Environmental Research Laboratory
As a research unit within the University of Arizona, Environmental Research Laboratory scientists, engineers and planners have been researching the relationship between the basic human needs of food, water, energy and shelter, and the ability of the environment to supply these needs. From this research ERL has developed innovative technologies and applied a systems approach to problems and projects in arid regions worldwide for more than 30 years. ERL’s Desert Design and Planning Group coordinates with CAPLA to provide sustainable solutions to community development issues. With a primary focus on arid regions, the ERL provides technical support and technology transfer to entities interested in developing projects and communities in that are more resource efficient and livable.

Arizona State Museum
The Arizona State Museum is the oldest and largest anthropology museum in the region and brings to life the culture history of the greater southwest, from the mammoth hunters to the present, through many ongoing research projects. The museum's rich and varied collections are among the most significant resources in the nation for the study of southwest anthropology. The museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, houses the Office of Ethnohistorical Research, Documentary Relations of the Southwest (DRSW), the Arizona Archaeological Site and Survey Database (AZSITE), and conservation laboratories.

Archaeological Mapping Lab
The Archaeological Mapping Lab, located in Haury Anthropology Building, is dedicated to the scientific study and analysis of ancient cities, landscapes, and sanctuaries by means of the use of digital cartography, GIS, remote sensing and other spatial analytical techniques. The purpose of the lab is to pursue archaeological mapping research projects as well as to train students in computerized mapping techniques.

Heritage Conservation Lecture Series
The Heritage Conservation Lecture Series supplements the CAPLA Lecture Series by sponsoring an annual lecture focusing on preservation issues. Past lecturers include Mohammad al-Asad, Director of the Center for the Study of the Built Environment (Amman Jordan), Chris Wilson, J.B. Jackson Professor of Cultural Landscape Studies, University of New Mexico, Donovan Rypkema, preservation economist, Steve Farneth, preservation architect from Architectural Resources Group, and Rosa Lowinger, architectural conservator.

Desert Southwest/Cooperative Ecosystem Study Unit (DS/CESU)
The Heritage Conservation program at the University of Arizona has been selected by the National Park Service to participate in an inter-agency Cooperative Ecosystem Study Unit (CESU). The purpose of the CESU is to integrate the cultural resource needs of National Park Service's Desert Southwest region with the technical expertise available from the faculty and students in the Heritage Conservation program through funded projects. The projects vary from national register nominations and cultural landscape inventories to historic structures reports and new facilities design in the parks' scenic and historic contexts. Dr. Pat O'Brien, the DS/CESU Cultural Resources liaison, is housed in the Smith House/Center for Heritage Conservation and works directly with Heritage Conservation students.

For further information concerning the Master of Science in Architecture with a concentration in Heritage Conservation, please contact:

Gina Chorover (gchorove@email.arizona.edu)
Coordinator, Heritage Conservation
Assistant Lecturer, School of Landscape Architecture & Planning