Preservationist tapped as interim head of architecture department

Robert Warden

Robert Warden

Robert Warden, a Texas A&M professor of architecture who headed numerous research projects at historic sites as the former director of Texas A&M’s Center for Heritage Conservation, has been named interim head of the university’s Department of Architecture

“He is a leading scholar, person of great integrity and valued colleague,” said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture, in announcing the appointment.

Warden, holdder of the David Woodcock Professorship in Historic Preservation, leads courses in design and architectural theory and develops methods to interpret historic structures for architectural, historical and engineering studies.

He helped lead a research team that included engineers, geologists and geophysicists whose findings informed the $6 million restoration of a cliffside monument at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, France, that honors the World War II heroism of U.S. Army Rangers serving under the command of future Texas A&M president Earl Rudder. 

The monument was in danger of collapsing into the English Channel due to erosion of the Pointe du Hoc cliffs from rainwater, high winds and the constant pounding of waves.

After the cliff was stabilized, the monument was rededicated at a June 6, 2011 ceremony attended by Rudder family members, more than 40 D-Day veterans, current and former members of Congress, and additional dignitaries.

In another project, Warden and a group of architecture and civil engineering students worked with students and faculty from Chico State University’s Concrete Industry Management Program to create 2- and 3-D models of California’s historic Alcatraz prison and its support buildings. These models and associated research help the National Park Service’s conservation efforts at the island monument.

Warden is also part of an ongoing, multiyear effort to document an ancient Maya site in Belize. Using techniques Warden has developed on previous projects, he and students from various disciplines are creating 3-D models of Mayan architecture and artifacts at the site. This work is especially important because of the fragile state of preservation in the developing nation, where sites on private land are at risk of destruction. 

Warden’s diverse background in engineering, architecture and philosophy have helped him lead and contribute to interdisciplinary teams for these and additional conservation projects. 

He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1974, a Master of Architecture degree at Texas A&M in 1986, and a Master of Philosophy degree at the University of New Mexico in 1994.

His degrees have also served as an underpinning to develop new methodologies for measuring and documenting historic structures and to teach the philosophy of architecture to graduate and undergraduate students.

In 2014, Warden earned the J. Thomas Regan Interdisciplinary Faculty Prize for his interdisciplinary preservation efforts.

“Warden’s efforts enable undergraduate and graduate students to work alongside architects, archaeologists and museum conservators,” said Julie Rogers, senior lecturer of architecture and associate CHC director, in a Regan Prize nomination letter.


posted September 1, 2016