Eryn Brennan holds two masters’ degrees from the University of Virginia, one in Architectural History (with a joint certificate in Historic Preservation) and one in Urban and Environmental Planning. She has been a practicing architectural historian and urban planner for nine years. As Director of Development and Communications for an international nonprofit organization based in Falmouth, Jamaica, Eryn worked to develop networks of interested parties from donors to craftsmen in the US and the UK, organized fundraising events, conducted lectures, and managed the needs of a nine member international Board of Directors. She also helmed a project funded by a grant from the Jamaican government to develop a set of architectural guidelines and land use documents to administer the Falmouth Historic District. As a Senior Urban Planner with Albemarle County in Charlottesville, Virginia, Eryn worked across every division as a rural areas, development areas, and design review planner. While working at the County, she also served on the City of Charlottesville’s Board of Architectural Review and was president of Preservation Piedmont, a local nonprofit historic preservation organization. Since 2011, Eryn has been an architectural historian and urban planner with AKRF, Inc., an environmental engineering firm based in New York City. In her current position, Eryn works across both disciplines on projects ranging from the World Trade Center site to Suffolk County’s first comprehensive plan and the Staten Island Observation Wheel, evaluating potential adverse impacts on historic resources, land use, public policy, and community facilities.
During her time at UC Santa Cruz, Eryn focused her studies on both pre- and post-industrial Europe, which culminated in a year abroad at the National University of Ireland, Galway and a senior thesis on the decline of the Irish language since the 18th century. Eryn’s urge to study history at UC Santa Cruz and NUIG stemmed from a deep desire to understand the motivations of human nature and how those forces shape our past as well as our present and future. In her search to uncover what motivates humans, she discovered a love of architecture; both the modern, post-modern, and vernacular aesthetics prevalent on this campus, but also the medieval, Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture she came to know during her year abroad. The research, writing, and analytical skills she developed as an undergraduate at U.C. Santa Cruz, particularly drawing conclusions based on numerous sources, served her well in graduate school and continue to serve her every day in whichever hat she happens to be wearing. Eryn was the recipient of the Faculty Book Award for her first master’s degree. In addition, she has published a monograph based on her master’s thesis, various articles focused on architectural history and historic preservation, and a pictorial history of Charlottesville, Virginia as part of the Images of America series. However, her proudest accomplishment is spending the past fifteen years with her partner and best friend, Jay, with whom she lives in Manhattan with three rescued cats.
Eryn will be the 2015 Undergraduate Symposium Keynote Speaker.