To Become an Architectural
Meet Gina Haney! She is an architectural historian.
Thanks so much for talking with me today. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I have two daughters, Ella and Matilda, who are in the 5th and 2nd grades. Although they don’t get to join me on work trips, I enjoy sharing experiences from the field with them and their classmates at school.
How did you first become interested in architectural history?
I first became interested in architectural history after working as an archaeologist during and just after college. Archaeology is often dusty and slow work, sometimes without much interaction with people. I switched to architectural history because the concept of examining different layers of history is the same, but all of the work is above ground!
I started working in Iraq after working in Egypt for a few years. In Iraq, I consult for an organization known as the World Monuments Fund; they have projects on all seven continents. I thought working with architecture in Egypt was historic until I began working in southern Iraq in Mesopotamia. The architecture here is even earlier.
What does an architectural historian do?
An architectural historian studies the architecture of the past. In my work, I not only look at older buildings and structure, but also connect with the people who lived in these places in the past and in the present. Even though I am considered an architectural historian, I also examine landscapes which are shaped by humans and nature.
What is a typical day like for you?
When I am in the field, the day usually begins early.It depends on the nature of the project, but I am usually surveying a collection of buildings or communities and assessing their condition. I observe the building, take notes, make a basic sketch and take a photo and a GPS point for mapmaking purposes. I often collect the oral histories of the place by speaking with people who have some sense of historical context or live in it and are adding their own layer history to the site. I also like to make short films as I think these best convey the spirit of the places I work in. Evenings and days not in the field are spent compiling the data and generating the reports and film.
When and how did you realize you wanted to become and architectural historian?
I knew I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was very young. I was fascinated by the findings of Egyptologists and the artifacts from King Tut’s tomb touring the United States. When in college, I first worked as an archaeologist at a historic building. I became more interested in the process of looking at buildings for clues to the past and switched from archaeology to architectural history after college and before graduate school, where I formally studied architectural history.