Anna Nau is a 4th-year Ph.D. candidate in historic preservation at The University of Texas at Austin.

What inspired you to study architecture? What was your path to where you are today?

Perhaps it was growing up in a historic 1910s house that laid the foundation for my interest in architecture, but I first fell in love with architectural history as an art history major at Southwestern University. Interested in architecture, I completed an internship with Ford, Powell & Carson in San Antonio my sophomore year, and returned after graduation to work with Carolyn Peterson, FAIA, on various preservation projects. I have been an architectural historian and preservationist at FPC (with breaks to pursue my degrees) for over a decade. Through my work with FPC, I was fortunate to be part of the writing team for the successful nomination of the San Antonio Missions to the UNESCO World Heritage list. I hold a M.A. in architectural history from the University of Virginia and an M.S. in architectural conservation from the University of Edinburgh, and I am now finishing up my Ph.D. in historic preservation at UT Austin. My dissertation reevaluates the role of the American architecture profession in the early history of architectural preservation through an analysis of key preservation projects led by prominent American architects between 1876-1926, including McKim Mead & White’s restoration of the White House (1903) and the Frank Miles Day restoration of Congress Hall in Philadelphia (1912).

What is your favorite thing about the architecture program at your school?

There are many things I love about UTSOA, including the interdisciplinary spirit, the variety of interesting classes, and the generous travel scholarships. As a doctoral student, my favorite thing is the enthusiastic support I have received from the faculty, especially my dissertation committee members, Dr. Michael Holleran, Dr. Richard Cleary, Dr. Chris Long, and Dr. Sarah Lopez. I have learned so much from each of them. Through classes and one-on-one meetings, they have opened my eyes to new and creative ways of thinking and writing about architecture and historic preservation, encouraging and inspiring me to produce the best research that I can. 

Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

In 10 years, I hope to be teaching historic preservation and architectural history at a school of architecture. Ideally, I will also continue working as a preservationist with a design firm or preservation advocacy group. Preservation is rarely considered a key component of architecture degree programs. As an architectural historian and preservationist, I believe I can make a significant contribution to the way preservation is both taught and practiced. I hope to demonstrate the value of and necessity for a more comprehensive inclusion of preservation theory and training in architectural education.

Pen, pencil, or computer?


Show us a page from your sketchbook. Describe what you’ve drawn.

I am not a designer; so most of my notebooks are filled with text, but very occasionally I try my hand at sketching historic buildings or elements. This is small drawing of Le Corbusier’s iconic chapel in Ronchamp, France. I sketched it while taking notes during our World Architecture survey course, for which I was a TA for two years.

Are there other forms of art you participate in? How do they affect your process or work as an architect?

I spend most of my time researching in archives and writing, but in the last two years I’ve started dabbling in watercoloring. It’s a relaxing activity, and I have also gained a whole new appreciation for the amazing watercolor renderings produced by many of my favorite 19th-century architects.

If you could travel to see any building in the world, what would it be?

There are so many iconic and interesting buildings I would love to see, but if I had to pick one, it would be the Duomo in Florence. I have yet to go to Italy, and that building is at the top of my list!

The Texas Architectural Foundation (TAF) was established in 1952 to make possible deserving students’ dreams of an architectural education, and to enhance the quality of the academic experience at Texas universities. Since its inception, TAF has distributed hundreds of scholarships valued at well over $2 million to assist students pursuing careers in architecture and helped fund architectural programs in Texas schools of architecture. Scholarships are awarded through the Foundation to students at all levels as designated by the donors. Learn more.

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