Architectural Historians Invite Austin Public to Join Them at Conference

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The Society of Architectural Historians, together with members of the local community, present public events that showcase Austin’s architecture and explore the city’s rapid growth.

Austin City Hall

Austin City Hall (credit: Gia Marie Houck)

The tours and the SAH Austin Seminar offer opportunities for conference participants and area residents to interact and learn from each other.

Over 500 scholars and professionals from around the world will meet in Austin on April 9–13 for the 2014 Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH). The international architecture conference draws architectural historians, historic preservationists, architects, planners and others together to share the latest research on the history of the built environment. But the conference has another aim beyond the academic—to engage with the community through programming that focuses on local issues and explores the architecture of the region. The conference’s public events, organized by locals, include guided tours of architecture and landscapes as well as the SAH Austin Seminar, “Austin and the Place of Historic Architecture in Rapidly Growing Cities.”

“The tours and the SAH Austin Seminar offer opportunities for conference participants and area residents to interact and learn from each other,” says Richard Cleary, the conference’s local chair and Page Southerland Page Fellow in Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). “Planning these events was the primary task of the local committee who contributed their expertise in architecture, historic preservation, and education.”

The SAH Austin Seminar takes place on Saturday, April 12, and includes panel discussions and a keynote address by architectural historian Stephen Fox, “Architectural History, Public Discourse, and Political Action in Texas: Looking Backward and Forward.” Two panels of local experts will explore the challenges and opportunities Austin is experiencing due to its rapid growth, with the first panel focusing on social and environmental issues and the second panel covering development and preservation matters. Panelists include:

Panel One: Changes in Social and Environmental Contexts
Barbara Brown Wilson - Director, Center for Sustainable Development at UT Austin
Sarah Lopez - Architectural historian, UT Austin
Fred L. McGhee - Historical anthropologist and principal, Fred L. McGhee & Associates

Panel Two: Challenges of Scale, Density, and the Ordinary
Jennifer Minner - Assistant Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University
David Preziosi - Executive Director, Preservation Dallas
John Rosato - Principal, Southwest Strategies Group in Austin

Michael Holleran, director of the graduate program in Historic Preservation at UT Austin, organized the SAH Austin Seminar. He said, “The ratio of old to new in Austin is as great as in any city in North America. For better or worse, Austin is a laboratory of preservation promise and perils in the rapidly growing city."

Twenty-one tours led by local experts showcase Austin’s architecture, historic neighborhoods and landscapes. In addition to the usual suspects of landmark buildings and historic sites, the tours also include the more ordinary, yet nonetheless significant, structures and spaces that carry local cultural meaning.

“In organizing the tours, we sought to offer a really rich range of alternatives that would not only appeal to attendees' different interests, but also highlight the incredible diversity of Austin's built and landscaped environments,” said R. Scott Gill, a UT Austin graduate student who worked with other local committee members to coordinate the tours. “I think we've assembled a truly wonderful panoply that vividly represents the best of architectural history in Austin and Central Texas.”

The tours offer conference participants a chance to explore Austin’s architectural treasures and to appreciate the city’s unique character. A wide variety of architectural styles, building types and subject matter are represented in the program, which also include tours in the nearby cities of San Antonio, Fredericksburg and Taylor.

Visit for more information on the 2014 Annual Conference and to register.

SAH Austin Seminar
“Austin and the Place of Historic Architecture in Rapidly Growing Cities”
$10 general public; free for conference attendees
Saturday, April 12, 2014
8:30 am–12:45 pm
Hyatt Regency Austin
Room: Foothills 1, 17th floor
208 Barton Springs, Austin

Visit the conference website for a complete tour schedule and pricing.

2014 Annual Conference Partners
AIA Austin
Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau
Austin Parks & Recreation
Preservation Austin
Texas Historical Commission
University of Texas Libraries
The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

About SAH
Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH produces the quarterly print and online Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH) and the Buildings of the United States book series. The Society organizes an annual conference and offers study tours in the U.S. and internationally. SAH’s digital resources include SAH Archipedia, a media-rich online encyclopedia of American architecture, and SAHARA, a shared online image archive for teaching and research. SAH awards more than 40 grants and fellowships annually. Learn more at

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Helena Karabatsos
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