During the summer of 2016, Gillian Lang, an Architectural Conservation – MSc student, travelled from the United States to Scotland to gather information about British Preservation Trusts (BPTs). The research was for Gillian’s dissertation, which compared BPTs with US preservation revolving funds. Her dissertation research was funded by the Saltire Society (through the Robert Hurd Bursary), who gave her £1000 for the project.

“I had decided to spend the summer back home in the US, in order to save money. However, I realised that it was going to be very hard to get the interviews that I wanted to do in Scotland regarding BPTs,” said Gillian, “I applied for the scholarship, so that I could fly back to Scotland and conduct interviews, do research, and meet with my dissertation advisor, an opportunity that I would not have had otherwise.”

The two kinds of organisation have a similar function: to repurpose old, under-utilised buildings by using a pool of money that is restocked when the property is sold, and then used again to buy another property in need of help.

“The model is a great one, but both US revolving funds and BPTs are struggling,” said Gillian, “I wanted to know why, and if they are both having the same problems. I also wanted to look at the development of the organizations on both sides of the Atlantic, and how that played into the difficulties that they are having now.”

Gillian’s research involved interviewing professionals working in BPTs and their US equivalents. She spoke with them about the hurdles they have to surmount to function.

“By interviewing practitioners, I was able to truly understand the challenges facing these organisations, in a way I never would have,” said Gillian, “Also, from a structural point of view, my advisor helped me to reorganise my report, thus making it more streamlined and readable. The scholarship really enhanced my report immeasurably.”

Gillian will be graduating with a Merit in November 2016.

The Saltire Society was founded in 1936 to improve the quality of life in Scotland and restore the country to its proper place as a creative force in Europe. International in outlook, the Society seeks to preserve all that is best in Scottish tradition and to encourage new developments which can strengthen and enrich the country’s cultural life.