Kathryn Horak

Adjunct Assistant Professor


BA, Whitworth University MHP (Master of Historic Preservation), USC School of Architecture 

Interests: Modern architecture and design; architecture and the allied arts, intangible heritage, treatment and documentation methods for historic places

Katie Horak is Principal of Architectural Resources Group’s Los Angeles office and a respected leader in the architecture, planning, and land use community. She’s an authority on national and regional heritage conservation standards, policies, and legal frameworks, with particular expertise in finding creative solutions for treatment and reuse. Her award-winning work includes a Historic Structures Report for Paul Revere Williams’ Founder’s Church of Religious Science, restoration work at Los Angeles Union Station, and documenting tens of thousands of buildings for SurveyLA, Los Angeles’ citywide historic resources survey. 

She speaks frequently at conferences and universities across the country, and her passion for twentieth-century built heritage has taken her across the globe. She serves as Founding President of Docomomo’s Southern California chapter and is the first woman to serve as President-Elect of Docomomo US in its thirty-year history. (See her talk with Heritage Conservation Program Director Trudi Sandmeier about architectural photography’s role in preservation practice, education, and advocacy: “Exuberant Architecture: Exploring Late Modernism through the Lens of Wayne Thom,” USC Visions and Voices, 2021).

“One of the best things about teaching in the Heritage Conservation Program is getting to know the amazing students who bring their unique perspectives, backgrounds, and interests to the work we do together, and then getting to see them do amazing things in the world after they graduate!”

Horak has taught in the Heritage Conservation Program since 2012. Her documentation courses (introductory and advanced) teach valuable skills and often yield real-world results: After a student case study documented the historic View Park neighborhood, Architectural Resources Group hired some of the students to work on the neighborhood’s nomination for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Horak and her students discuss another class project on the award-winning podcast Save As: NextGen Heritage Conservation (a USC MHC production): Is Leimert Park L.A.’s Most Historic Neighborhood?

In addition to lecturing in the USC Heritage Conservation Program, Horak is a graduate (when it was known as the Historic Preservation Program). She appeared on the Save As podcast episode “Culture, Community, and the Holiday Bowl” to discuss her career path, her master’s thesis, and the evolution of valuing cultural significance.

Related Links: Linkedin

Currently Teaching
  • 552
    Introduction to Historic Site Documentation
    Introduction to Historic Site Documentation
    Explore new ways of observing and thinking about the built environment through practical applications of documentation methods and fieldwork exercises. Learn the various techniques employed in the field of heritage conservation for recording and documenting historic resources, including methods of architectural classification such as historic resources surveys; National Register, California Register, and local registration standards; photographic documentation; historic structure reports and cultural landscape reports; and HABS/HAER documentation.
  • 554 - Survey
    Heritage Conservation Practicum Survey
    Heritage Conservation Practicum Survey
    Assessing historic buildings, sites, neighborhoods, and landscapes within their historic contexts forms the foundation of contemporary heritage conservation practice. Through lectures and fieldwork, this course will examine the tools required for assessment including research, writing historic contexts, understanding the vocabulary of the region’s architecture, assessing architectural character and integrity, utilizing state-of-the-art data collection techniques, basic architectural photography, and other best practices. As a non-design based studio course, students will be responsible for research and fieldwork to craft a cohesive survey evaluation of the area of study selected for each semester, in addition to a community presentation of their findings.
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