Associate Project Specialist, Field Projects

Photo Claudia Cancino

Claudia was born in Lima, Peru, the middle child of three, to parents who were physicians. As a child, Claudia would often go to see her father's family in Trujillo, and while there she would visit the World Heritage Site of Chan Chan, as well as other nearby historic earthen sites, which sparked an interest in historic places. She had other childhood interests as well, including competitive swimming, something she pursued vigorously. Indeed, at the age of twelve she became part of the Peruvian national swim team, won several international championships, and traveled to most of the countries in South America.

Her interest in architecture dates back to when she was five. An older cousin who was studying architecture taught her basic design on a drawing table, and she decided early on that she wanted to be an architect. Even while she was earning her degree in architecture from the Universidad Ricardo Palma in Lima, she knew that she wanted to work with historic environments. While at the university, she developed a course on historic preservation for schoolchildren that she taught for two years.

After several years working as an architect in Lima, she went to Rome for six months to attend ICCROM's International Architectural Conservation Course. Returning to Peru, she began teaching conservation, history of architecture, and earthen construction at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas, with course work that included hands-on earthen construction—an activity that she particularly enjoyed. During this time, she also earned a degree in business administration.

Three years later, she entered the University of Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Program, where she earned first a master's degree and then an advanced certificate in conservation. Her studies with the program included fieldwork at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

In 2002, after completing the program, she applied for a position at the GCI, and she subsequently joined the Institute's Field Projects department, where she had the opportunity to capitalize on her interest by going to work on the GCI's earthen architecture initiative. She is currently working on the dissemination of information regarding the GCI's research on seismic strengthening of earthen buildings, and she is part of a team evaluating possible sites for a field project related to earthen architecture. She is also working on the preparation of the 2007 World Symposium of the Organization of World Heritage Cities and manages the Institute's project to evaluate past treatments on decorated surfaces at a site in Mexico.