by: AIA New York
As President of the NYC- and NYS-certified Architectural Preservation Studio, Pamela Jerome, FAIA, is an innovative leader in the application of theory and doctrine on the preservation of significant structures in the U.S. and worldwide. Jerome is responsible for the conservation of National Historic Landmarks such as Fallingwater and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, as well as international World Heritage sites. Through this work, Jerome acknowledges historical significance but also respects the importance of changes that have occurred over time. Her award-winning projects, volunteer work, publications, and training have an international impact. As an expert member of several ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) International Scientific Committees, Jerome leads in the debate over authenticity and preservation techniques for ephemeral materials, such as earthen architecture, 20th-century heritage, and archaeological-site conservation.
For over 20 years, she has been teaching historic preservation at Columbia University’s GSAPP, where she developed the first graduate course on archaeological-site conservation. She develops interdisciplinary technical research and programmatic activities through her volunteer NGO work at ICOMOS and advises the Board of APT (Association for Preservation Technology International) on interdisciplinary opportunities as the US/ICOMOS liaison. Her 15-year capacity-building services in Yemen testify to her belief that accomplished professionals should share their knowledge with developing nations.
This year, the Jury of Fellows of the AIA elevated Jerome to its prestigious College of Fellows in the first category of Fellowship: Design, urban design, or preservation—Jerome is recognized particularly for her work in preservation. The category recognizes architects who “promote the aesthetic, scientific, and practical efficiency of the profession,” according to the organization’s definition. Now among the AIA membership’s three percent distinguished with Fellowship and honorary Fellowship, Jerome was recognized at the New Fellows Reception hosted by AIA New York and at the AIA Conference on Architecture in New York City.
Q: What is a favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: My favorite project was definitely my 15-year advisory and training capacity role for the incredibly sophisticated mud-brick mansions and tower houses of the Hadhraumat Valley and Wadi Do’an in Yemen. By the time the project was completed, we had restored 19 significant mansions, trained dozens of local professionals and architecture students alongside American graduate students, documented the impacts of concrete incursions in both valleys, reported to UNESCO on the effects of the devastating 2008 flash flood to the World Heritage site of Shibam, and provided for the structural stabilization of the tallest mud-brick minaret in the world.
Q: What is your earliest memory of experiencing architecture?
A: In 1962-64, I lived in a mid-century Modernist house that my father designed. He was not an architect but had clear ideas about how to organize the flow of our house and its style. I remember clearly the Danish Modern furniture, the Eames chairs, and the clean crisp design of that house. Two years later, we moved to Athens, Greece to a mid-century Modernist apartment building. But my father also exposed me to ancient Greece; we would take road trips each summer to archaeological sites. These two seemingly opposite ends of the architectural spectrum have influenced my work ever since.
Q: What is influencing your work the most right now?
A: As a preservation architect, my work has been most influenced by international doctrine incorporating a values-based approach and concepts of authenticity. I work in cultural heritage conservation, so having strong theoretical underpinnings to support what I am doing is important. My long-term volunteer work with the Paris-based NGO, ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), where I am currently serving on the Board, has been most instrumental in influencing my responses to projects.
Q: What are you working on right now?
A: I am working on the exterior repair of several Art Deco skyscrapers. But probably my most interesting current project is the restoration and rehabilitation of Hinchliffe Stadium, a National Historic Landmark in Paterson, NJ. Paterson has an embarrassment of riches in terms of historic resources yet is in such financial dire straits that it is difficult for the public there to see the forest for the trees. One of the last surviving Negro League stadiums, this abandoned Art Deco gem is going to take a major investment to become a functioning venue again.
Q: What does being a fellow mean to you?
A: In addition to recognition of my accomplishments by my peers, being a Fellow adds weight to my professional engagement preserving historic resources thereby reinforcing a community’s sense of place while providing a backdrop for the dialogue between new and old construction as sites continue to evolve.
Editors’ Note: This feature is part of a series celebrating the 28 members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York Chapter that have been elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in 2018, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to both the profession and society. Learn more about Fellowship here.