New York City has 8,250,000 people and 975,000 buildings. It also has the only high school program in the country for hands-on masonry preservation, building conservation and green sustainable construction. This blog offers a glimpse into that program.
A third-generation mason, Tom Russack has more than 30 years of construction experience as a bricklayer, restoration mason, painter, plasterer and project manager. He has worked on restoration and general construction projects throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic.
Tom received a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and Business Management from Roger Williams College in Bristol, Rhode Island, a Master in the Science of Management from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a Master of Arts in Historic Preservation from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Tom also studied historic preservation at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Durham Technical Institute in North Carolina, and Columbia University in New York City.
Tom is a part of Rand Engineering and Architecture’s Historic Preservation group in which his main responsibilities are managing exterior restoration projects for landmark properties and buildings in historic districts.
Tom is the author of “The Russack System for Brick and Mortar Description—A Field Method for Assessing Masonry Hardness.” An article he wrote for Technology and Conservation magazine, which was also featured in the “Old House Journal,” and continues to serve as a guide for restorative masonry practices.
Combining his extensive field experience and academic study, Tom designed the curriculum for a high school masonry preservation training program based on the findings of his Historic Preservation Master’s thesis.
In 2007 he became the Instructor of the first, and only, program of its kind in the United States; and he continues training future preservation masons through Harlem’s Workforce Development “YouthBuild” program at Abyssinian Development Corp.