Jean Boebel Chair in Historic Preservation    Assistant Professor, Department of Planning & Urban Studies    University of New Orleans /

Jean Boebel Chair in Historic Preservation

Assistant Professor, Department of Planning & Urban Studies

University of New Orleans /

Ph.D. in Urban Planning, Harvard University (Planning History; Risk & Resilience)

M.S. Architecture Studies, MIT (Architectural History and Technology)

B.S. Civil Engineering & Architecture, Columbia University


A practitioner and professor of urban design, planning and preservation, I research and realize equitable adaption of built environments to new uses and users, risks and hazards.

I investigate chronic risks and acute hazards to flood-prone communities and commercial spaces with students and scholars of planning and preservation, but also with practitioners of hazard mitigation and disaster policy. Aimed at addressing inequities of design and development practice, these inquiries focus on public funding models, private development practices and philanthropic aid for housing rehabilitation, infrastructure repair and landscape maintenance. The research—particularly program evaluation, plan making, policy analysis and design review.—informs the activities of conservancies, community-based organizations, anchor institutions, governmental bodies and consulting firms. Currently, I serve as a research advisor and partner to aging and low-to-moderate income communities of color and the organizations that advocate and invest in them—from HousingNOLA to the Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association

I share research not only at academic conferences (e.g. ACSP, UAA, SACRPH, AAG), but also through the symposia and summits of professional and public-serving organizations. My work, in turn, appears in anthologies of engaged scholarship such as Spatializing Politics: Essays on Power and Place (2015) and Now What? Advocacy, Activism and Alliances in American Architecture (2018). Ongoing comparative studies and case studies of preservation practices of disaster recovery was presented at several events, recently—Democracy in Retreat? Master Planning in a Warming World (Tulane, Columbia and UNO, 2019); Heritage at Risk: Climate Changes to Historic Preservation (UNO, 2019); the Anthropocene River Campus (HKW, 2019), and Preservation Equity Summit (National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2019);.Climate, Infrastructure and Emergency Powers (Columbia, 2018); Preservation and Social Inclusion (Columbia, 2018).

I bring decades of community and public service, including board participation, to consulting practice and academic scholarship. Since 2000, when I first started working in the fields of architecture, planning, preservation and engineering, I’ve lead diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, especially efforts to address the underrepresentation of racial and gender minorities. I co-organized Harvard’s acclaimed Black in Design conference of 2015 and directed Pre-College Initiatives of the National Society of Black Engineers in the Northeast from 2003-2005 amongst other commitments. Since then, I joined the board of Louisiana Landmarks Society and the Alumni Council of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and I serve on design and policy review committees of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, HousingNOLA and the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. I also lead university-community partnerships at University of New Orleans’ Planning & Urban Studies Department (2018-), and previously at Northeastern University’s School of Architecture (2015-2017), Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (2009-2017) and MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (2005-2007). These collaborations include participatory-action research, for which I received support from several foundations and think tanks (e.g. Volvo Research & Education Foundation, Tobin Project and HKW, to name a few).

I am the founder and principal of Arch.Land.Urban, a consulting firm that practices what I teach: inclusive planning of community adaptation and resilience. Prior to founding the firm, I developed preservation plans for LaGuardia Airport, the Newark (NJ) Riverfront, Boston Main Streets and Newton (Mass.) village centers with the architects, landscape architects, urban designers and engineers of municipalities as well as multidisciplinary consulting firms such as HNTB, DMJM, Ochsendorf DeJong and Hector Design Services. My experience designing resilience and planning mitigation includes Planning & Design Guidelines, Historic Structures Reports, Cultural Resources Management Policies, and Data Storytelling. The firm is based in the Gulf South, but past clients include governmental bodies and university administrations in the northeast. In 2018, Next City selected me to join its 2018 cohort of Vanguard Fellow.




Inquiry via Action. Action via Inquiry

I am a resilience and preservation planner driven by the participatory praxis of project-based teaching and community-based research.



Comparative research explores who has the right and responsibility to produce, plan, maintain, manage and safeguard their community, and its critical infrastructure. Employing a mixed-methods approach, I undertake and advise case studies and comparative studies of:

  • community and corporate philanthropy in planning, policy, and preservation

  • the agency of nonprofits in design and development as well as management and maintenance of green infrastructure

  • public-private partnership in historic and cultural preservation 

  • hazard mitigation and disaster recovery grant programs, esp. rehabilitation and revitalization funding

  • comparative research of community resilience and cultural preservation, e.g. legacy businesses and legacy homeowners

  • ;best practices’ of rebuilding and rehabilitation post-disaster

research consulting

To advance equity in stewardship of the public realm and private property, I advise and facilitate:

  • plan, policy, and program evaluation and design

  • co-learning amongst "friends" of streetscapes, greenways and other infrastructure for mobility

  • capacity building amongst neighborhood associations, who often-times lead historic district nomination and preservation 

  • data storytelling (oral histories, interviews, surveys, asset mapping)

community-engaged learning/ design & preservation studios

I currently teach urban design, planning and preservation in the Planning and Urban Studies department of the University of New Orleans, after years of teaching in the Architecture departments of Northeastern University, Harvard University Graduate School of Design and MIT. The development and decline of American cities and suburbs—from colonization to globalization—are my areas of expertise. The studios I coordinate and seminars I lead encourage students to think critically about the role of planners and preservationists in creating resilient, just cities and contesting injustice and inequality. I place the projects, practices and problems of practitioners—past and present—at the core of planning and preservation education to ensure emergent address vulnerabilities and inequities of the built environment.