As a “mature” student during the Cultural Management course, I continued to work as a senior associate, architect, urban designer and heritage planner with a large multi-discipline firm. During the four years of study I worked on a re-purposing of a portion of the 1929, CPR, John Street Roundhouse for an underground hydro transformer station. I have been involved with adaptive reuse and conservation of this National Historic Site since 1995. Other projects also included the adaptive reuse and addition to a 1914 hydro generating station on the Muskoka River, a HCD in London Ontario, a cultural heritage inventory and assessment for all LCBO properties 40 years or older and a commemorative archway for the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls.
I graduated this spring with a Graduate Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Studies.
Typically after taking the streetcar and subway to the office I either work on heritage reports or I am asked to comment on anything within a project scope that is old: buildings, streetscapes, landscapes, infrastructure etc. I try to direct the question to the most knowledgeable person in the firm—civil engineers, arborists, landscape architects, planners—or I try to answer it myself. When a project is under construction I am onsite regularly. I also am on the Board of Directors of Heritage Toronto and the Canadian association of Heritage Professionals and so some days would include a regular monthly board meeting.
The CRMP significantly influenced me in two very important ways; firstly, I was encouraged (and in some instances: forced) to expand my understanding of cultural heritage issues and secondly, I was able to increase my understanding of the breadth and relevance of cultural heritage principles. I now, more than ever, am aware of the undercurrents that are the residue of outdated cultural values that still influence how our communities validate the various stories of our past. Understanding these effects, I can better craft arguments and justifications for more inclusive and creative conservation and adaptive reuse proposals.
I found all the courses useful and valuable in my current career with special thanks to Hal Kalman, Richard Linzey and Sean Fraser.
Integrate what you learn across the disciplines that deal with cultural heritage resources, avoid the expert “silo” trap.
One of the best memories was a Conserving Historic Structures class site visit to the Victoria City Museum. We were tasked with reviewing the interior and (to some extent) the exterior building condition. The second part of the assignment was to meet with the senior museum staff to share our observations and to make recommendations about what worked and what didn’t work as well as conservation, rehabilitation improvements. The museum staff’s reaction to this concentrated, comprehensive, expert thinking about their building was very positive.
One of the advantages of the online courses is the participation by students from many different places. I would like to suggest that each student should be encouraged to use and share local content, heritage resource examples, issues etc., that are typical—even unique—to their own communities. This could increase the understanding of the different types of resources and issues that cultural heritage management must deal with. It might also help to help to lessen the insidious, post-colonial-oriented tendency for resource evaluation.