School of Architecture
College of Design

Greg Donofrio, Ph.D. Assistant Professor & Director of Heritage Conservation & Preservation

Greg Donofrio, Ph.D. Assistant Professor & Director of Heritage Conservation and Preservation


Telephone: 612-626-1107

Office: 151S Rapson Hall

LinkedIn profile  Greg Donofrio


Greg Donofrio teaches in and is the director of the Master's of Science in Architecture, Heritage Conservation and Preservation graduate program.  His research explores the history, economics, and feasibility of historic preservation in the United States. He also has strong academic interests in food system planning and issues generally related to social equity and public health in rural and urban environments. While we have always needed to eat, the socioeconomic and physical infrastructures that have enabled us to do so remain curiously unexamined. His research into the history of food system planning, which includes an analysis of evolving socially-constructed notions of physical and functional urban obsolescence, is building toward a larger book-length publication on the functional preservation of historic food markets—the subject of his doctoral dissertation.

Professor Donofrio is also actively engaged in professional practice as Director of Research for Preservation Design Works (PVN), a Minneapolis-based consulting firm dedicated to increasing the use of historic buildings through design, real estate development, and research. In his work with PVN, Donofrio evaluates the historic significance of properties, helps to guide development proposals through preservation-related regulatory requirements, and assesses the economic feasibility of tax-advantaged historic rehabilitation projects. Working collaboratively, PVN combines the skills of a preservation planner and architectural historian, a preservation engineer, and a preservation architect.   

Additional professional and community engagement activities of Professor Donofrio include service on the Board of Directors and Real Estate Committee of the statewide, nonprofit, preservation-advocacy organization, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. He is also a member of the Building Revitalization Task Force of The Soap Factory, a contemporary art production and exhibition space owned and operated by a non-profit organization that he is helping to pursue state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits to support the substantial rehabilitation of its National-Register-listed building. 

Professor Donofrio's professional experience includes employment at the New York State Historic Preservation Office where he reviewed New York City building restoration and rehabilitation projects for compliance with state and federal historic preservation laws. He also coordinated the federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program for New York City including the exterior restoration of Gordon Bunshaft’s Lever House and Louis Sullivan’s Bayard-Condict Building, among many others. 


  • Preservation planning and economics, with special emphasis in tax credit analysis
  • Preservation regulations such as Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as well as local preservation ordinances and design guidelines
  • History and theory of the preservation movement in the United States
  • Food systems planning



  • Ph.D., City & Regional Planning, Cornell University, 2009 (Dissertation: “The Container and the Contained:” The Functional Preservation of Historic Food Markets)
  • M.A., Historic Preservation Planning, Cornell University, 2001
  • B.A., History of Science and Technology, Vassar College, May 1998

Awards, Grants and Fellowships

  • Residential Fellowship, University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Study, Spring 2012
  • Heritage Collaborative Grants, University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Study, 2009, 2011, and 2012.
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship, Massachusetts Historical Society, 2007
  • Agriculture, Food & Human Values Student Paper Competition Award Winner, June 2005
  • Clarence S. Stein Institute for Urban & Landscape Studies Research Grant, June 2004
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation, Favrot Grant to NYS Barn Coalition, May 2004
  • Cornell University Historic Preservation Research Fellowship, 2003-2004
  • National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE) Fellowship, 2003-2004
  • John W. Reps Award for Superior Academic Achievement, Cornell University, 2000



Recent Work

Preservation by Adaptation: Is it Sustainable?

The historic preservation field is aggressively promoting itself as ''green.'' Adaptive reuse of historic buildings is now widely considered a sustainable development practice. As with architecture in general, however, sustainability in preservation is too often narrowly framed around environmental issues such as the conservation of materials, energy, and water. Commonly accepted definitions of sustainability recognize two other components: economics and culture. Rarely does the preservation field consider sustainability as an entire system of interrelated environmental, economic, and social relationships, as envisioned by the Brundtland Report of 1987. This article offers several reasons for the preservation field to engage in the full spectrum of sustainability concerns, including economic and social issues.

Recent Work

Does Food Systems Planning Have a History?

Greg Donofrio's 2007 article "Feeding the City" was republished in the "Best of Gastronomica," Spring 2013. Original abstract from 2007: The food system has, until recently, been conspicuously absent from city and regional planning practice, education, and research. Earlier in the twentieth century, food issues were a central concern of the nascent planning profession. Keywords:urban planning, regional planning, city planning, food system planning, food distribution, history, Clarence Stein, Charles Mulford Robinson, George Ford, Lewis Mumford, public market, municipal market, terminal market, supermarket, food, agriculture, New York City, New York State, Greenmarket, farmers market, Regional Planning Association of American (RPAA), City Beautiful movement

Recent Work

Constructing the Significance of the Plymouth Buildling

Using primary and secondary research, Greg Donofrio and his colleagues Meghan Elliott and Ryan Salmon of Preservation Design Works, LLC argue that the Plymouth Building embodies advancements in several aspects of concrete engineering knowledge and building practice, including the concrete skeleton frame, use of deformed reinforcing steel, an integrated contractor-engineering delivery, and cold weather concreting. Use of a true reinforced concrete skeleton frame structural system made it possible to dramatically alter the fa├žade as building owners sought to adapt to changing architectural styles. Or, as a Minneapolis Tribune article published in 1910 put it: "The outside...can be redressed time and again; just husked like corn every century or two, and a new exterior added." The Plymouth Building represents an important step in the development of modern reinforced concrete engineering and design eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service agreed.
School of Architecture
145 Rapson Hall
89 Church Street
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Fax: 612-624-5743