Erica Avrami, Ph.D., is the James Marston Fitch Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia GSAPP. A preservationist and planner, Avrami also directs the Urban Heritage, Sustainability, and Social Inclusion initiative, and co-directs the Adapting the Existing Built Environment Earth Network. Avrami challenges students to approach preservation as a process of co-learning and co-creating knowledge, engaging multiple publics and disciplines to investigate complex social-spatial histories and navigate the stories and values ascribed to places.
Her research and teaching extend the heritage enterprise beyond a practice focused on sites and building, exploring preservation as a form of public policy that functions across geographic scales and diverse demographics. She interrogates the intentions, processes, and outcomes of preservation in relation to social justice and the climate crisis, and seeks to transition heritage tools and preservation policies toward equity, resilience, and decarbonization.
Avrami has published a number of volumes, articles, and professional reports, including Preservation, Sustainability, and Equity (2021), Preservation and Social Inclusion (2020), Preservation and the New Data Landscape (2020), Values in Heritage Management (2019). She has critically examined preservation policy using New York City as a didactic lens in her co-authored studies Energy and Historic Buildings: Toward Evidence-based Policy Reform and Confronting Exclusion: Redefining the Intended Outcomes of Historic Preservation.
Avrami joined GSAPP as full-time faculty in 2014, having formerly served as the Director of Research and Education for World Monuments Fund and a Project Specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute. She earned her B.A. in Architecture and M.S. in Historic Preservation, both at Columbia. She completed her Ph.D. in planning and public policy from Rutgers University, where her doctoral research focused on the intersection of historic preservation and sustainability planning. She has also taught in the preservation programs at the University of Pennsylvania and Pratt Institute. Avrami was a Trustee and Secretary of the US Committee of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS), and she currently serves on the editorial advisory board of the journals Future Anterior and Change Over Time.