Twenty-five years after James Marston Fitch started the first graduate program in architectural preservation at Columbia University in 1964, he established a foundation to further his commitment to training professionals to protect and curate our built environment. Professor Fitch recognized that to strengthen the field of historic preservation it was critical to provide support structures such as professional organizations and grant giving institutions.
The Fitch Foundation has indeed strengthened the field of historic preservation and has raised awareness about America’s rich architectural heritage. Year after year the Foundation has provided grants that enable mid-career professionals to conduct research that is of significant value to the academic community and professionals in practice around the world. A board of dedicated preservationists reviews applications and, to date, more than 30 grants have been awarded in support of projects that explore preservation issues in the United States. Past grantees have worked on topics ranging from scenic roadways to landscapes to regulatory methods to engineering systems to house museums and more, with projects focusing on vastly different geographic regions. The grants are not envisioned as prizes for past accomplishment, but are intended to support original research and creative thinking related to architectural heritage protection. The research and scholarship produced with the support of the Foundation is disseminated through publications, films and various other media and is readily available as a resource for students and practitioners.
In 2006 the Foundation established the Richard Blinder Award in honor of the former Fitch chair, architect, and founding partner of Beyer Blinder Belle. The Award is presented biennially to an architect in support of a proposal that explores the preservation of an existing structure, complex of buildings or genre of building type through addition, renovation or other means.