A Practitioner’s Implementation of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior's (SOI) Standards and Guidelines are a critical part of the framework of the national preservation program. They also provide the philosophical foundation for the physical management of historic resources to ensure that any physical activity to a resource does not adversely impact its integrity and ability to convey its historic significance. The SOI Standards were codified in the Federal Register in 1995, along with guidelines for preserving, rehabilitating, restoring and reconstructing historic buildings. The SOI Standards and Guidelines are used by every SHPO in the country and by many local governments. They are also referenced to mitigate potential adverse impacts to historic resources for projects subject to NEPA and CEQA.

Given the importance of the SOI Standards and Guidelines, this workshop will discuss their application by leading preservation professionals, planners, architects and others. Case studies will also be analyzed and discussed by workshop participants to practice applying the standards to a variety of buildings, structures, objects and cultural landscapes. The workshop will conclude with a walking tour of in-fill development within a South Pasadena historic district to discuss the SOI Standards as well.

Session Details

Session No. 1 (An introduction to the concepts and goals of the U.S. Secretary of the interior’s Standards and Guidelines.) - The U.S. Secretary of the Interior's (SOI) Standards and Guidelines cover preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction. Understanding the philosophy and goals of the standards and guidelines as well as which SOI Standard is applicable to a project depends on the goal(s) of the project. This session will focus on the basics of the SOI Standards and Guidelines.

Session No. 2 (Applying the SOI Standards through Case Studies) - Applying the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's (SOI) Standards and Guidelines is not always straightforward and there may be divergent opinions concerning whether or not a project complies with the intent of the standards. This session will breakdown the workshop participants into groups to discuss specific case studies presented to them. Each group will report back to the participants in the workshop with their findings and recommendations, including a general discussion of the application of the SOI Standards and Guidelines for each case study.

Session No. 3 (Applying the Secretary of the Interior's Standards to Objects, Historic Districts and Cultural Landscapes through Case Study Scenarios) - The Secretary of the Interior's (SOI) Standards touch every aspect of historic preservation practice, but sometimes it is difficult to see exactly how they apply. A series of short case studies will explore how the SOI Standards apply to less well-known resource types that both property owners and preservation professionals may encounter. Scenarios to be discussed include historic objects, cultural landscapes and historic district in-fill development.

Session No. 4 (So Your Project Doesn’t Comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. Now What?) - Through a lively round-table discussion, we will consider the wide range of preservation approaches, strategies, and philosophies employed by city preservation planners and cultural heritage commissioners who are charged with interpreting, guiding, and evaluating project's for compliance the SOI Standards and Guidelines in their respective communities.

Session No. 5 (Secretary of the Interior’s Standards at the Street-Level View: A Walking Tour of South Pasadena) - Participants will tour nearby historic properties and districts to discuss and apply the concepts learned during the day to buildings in the field. The tour will center on the National Register-listed Mission West Historic District. We will observe the overall character, scale, and feeling of the historic district, then walk by recent in-fill projects to discuss their merits vis-à-vis the SOI Standards. From the Mission West Historic District, we will walk to a nearby residential historic district to consider the issue of in-fill development and the SOI Standards.

Learning Obectives

  1. Understand the philosophy behind of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines.
  2. How to sucessfully apply the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines using case studies.
  3. Recognize the role the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards play in addressing less well-known resource types.
  4. Understand the variety of approaches used to implement an effective preservation program and to manage change to historic properties.


  • John Lesak, AIA, FAPT, LEED AP, Principal, Page & Turnbull
  • Debi Howell-Ardila, Senior Architectural Historian, Rincon Consultants, Inc.
  • Glen Duncan, South Pasadena Preservation Foundation and Cultural Heritage Commissioner
  • Christopher Koontz, AICP, Planning Bureau Manager, City of Long Beach Development Services I Planning Bureau
  • Shannon Carmack, Architectural History Program Manager (former CHC member, City of Long Beach), Rincon Consultants, Inc.
  • Mark Gallatin, City of South Pasadena Cultural Heritage Commission and Former Planning Director, City of San Gabriel
  • Don Dooley, Planning Services Manager, City of Whittier
  • Evanne St. Charles, LEED AP O+M, Associate | Architectural Historian & Preservation Planner, Architectural Resources Group