Welcome! Bienvenidos! Bienvenue!

“It has been said that, at its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future.”

- William Murtagh, Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America

In our increasingly digital age, the face and form of this conversation is transforming. Social media has become a driving and influential force in every aspect of our lives: politics, community, religion, entertainment. It should be no surprise that the preservation field is wholeheartedly embracing social media outlets. A quick internet search of something as simple as “historic preservation blog” resulted in more than 86,000 results.

The Association for Preservation Technology International is pleased to add our voices to this new conversation.

For over forty years, APT has been a leader in preservation technology, providing not only education and technical training opportunities but also providing a social venue for the sharing of experience and knowledge. This blog is a new approach to hosting our part of the conversation between the past and the present, developed around a user-generated dialogue and aimed at promoting interaction and participation.

Welcome! Bienvenidos! Bienvenue!

Posted in APT Conference | 1 Comment

Who will look after our projects after we are done?

When I arrived in Victoria for APTI a few days ago, I was fussing over my presentation, worrying about how to craft a meaningful story in 20 minutes. As APTI 2011 comes to a close, I have been reminded how the presentations are just the beginning, the jumping off point, for the real purpose of this conference: the discussions, new connections, and new perspectives gained from your colleagues after the presentations are over. It’s about getting this community together, stirring it up, and keeping it hot. One of the strong themes at this conference has been about community in preservation: how to engage the community, make them part of the process, and keep them invested in their heritage. This starts here, with this preservation community, and reminds us how important it is to feel connected and have a voice in any community.

I took one of the afternoon walking tours on Friday and enjoyed talking with attendees from all over Canada, Brazil, and the US. But I was also ready for a break, and took a roundabout way back to the hotel through a wonderful little bungalow neighborhood, full on snug, trim homes whose gardens were edged with the last drooping rose bloom. It ended dramatically at the water’s edge near Clover Point on the south side of Victoria. Basalt cliffs dropped to sparking water with the blue hills of nearby islands in the distance. Here, the locals were taking their kids home after school, walking their dogs, and basking in the sunshine. This was a unique urban place, heavily used and valued by its community, young and old, walking or in wheel chairs. What a different city this would have been without this emerald edge. High land cost might have caused high rise development and increasing demand for a waterfront view. The coast might have been restricted by gated communities.

I enjoyed my long walk back to hear the closing keynote speaker, Carolina Castellanos, who reminded us that we were all stakeholders in World Heritage. Even if our nation states were not signatories to World Heritage conventions, we remained stewards of our heritage. We were part of this international community with important roles to play in the communities where we live and work.We need to engage our friends and neighbors, reach out to marginalized groups in our work, and keep the community involved. Who else will look after our projects after we are done?

 Lori Aumont

Posted in APT Conference | Tagged | 1 Comment

Masonry in a Marine Environment

Attendees of Workshop 1, “Masonry in a Marine Environment,” could not help but return home determined that preservation practice should involve more boat travel. Gorgeous weather and scenery accompanied a Saturday afternoon excursion via inflatable Zodiac boats through the Juan de Fuca Strait to Cole Island. Ongoing stabilization of former Royal Navy structures on the island gave attendees a unique opportunity to observe masonry deterioration resulting from proximity to, and even immersion in, salt water.

The first order of business, however, was classroom preparation by workshop facilitator Keith Blades. With training in England and over 40 years of experience on projects across Canada and abroad, Blades is a well-known masonry conservation specialist. He began the Saturday morning session with a promise to pack six days’ worth of material into a two-day workshop, and then proceeded to deliver rapid-fire primers on conservation practice, geology, material properties, and the chemical and mechanical causes of deterioration, wrapping up over lunch. Blades employed a two-projector setup with full-screen images on one side and meticulously hand-lettered notes and diagrams on the other, which was a refreshing change after two days of PowerPoint paper sessions.

 Attendees left the morning session determined to put this knowledge into practice. As the boats approached Cole Island, we noted banners proclaiming “Canadian Masonry,” which turned out to be the name of the contractor for stabilization work. Ken Johnson of Heritage Conservation explained that the site, formerly known as Magazine Island, was developed in the 1890s to store shells and powder, assemble them, and load them onto lighters for transfer to Royal Navy ships. An older structure at the island’s southern tip dates to 1865 and incorporates Roman tile that was likely imported from England.

The Navy’s use of the island declined after World War I and the site was transferred to the provincial government’s park branch, which now maintains it with the help of a volunteer group called Friends of Cole Island. Stabilization work includes filling holes, patching cracks, deep repointing of mortar joints on the water side of buildings, repairing roofs, and removal of a picturesque but hazardous tree. The contractor’s personnel were on hand to explain their work and the difficulties of operating on a site without electrical power or fresh water.

After an enjoyable Saturday evening reception where masonry and timber workshop attendees mixed and compared notes, the masonry crew returned to the classroom on Sunday while the timber group enjoyed their day in the field. Masonry workshop facilitators John Daw and Philip Hoad presented case studies including valuable lessons learned on terra cotta and brick restoration projects, while Keith Blades gave further instruction on mortar analysis, mix design, cleaning, and stone consolidation. The workshop wrapped up with group discussion about restoration project management.

Justin M. Spivey
Senior Associate
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
 

 

Posted in APT Conference | Tagged | Leave a comment

Dessert Auction a Great Success

Well, APTers love their desserts!  To help raise funds for the student scholarship fund, the amazing desserts by Fairmont hotel’s pastry chef, D’oyen Christie, were auctioned off table by table. Bids flew around by the hundreds with one table bidding against each other. Never has the anticipation for dessert been so fraught with strategy of bidding. Can’t wait to get the cupcake tower for which we successfully bid.

Lonnie J. Hovey, AIA, FAPT
Program Manager, Historic Preservation
V I T E T T A

Posted in APT Conference | Tagged | Leave a comment

State of Conservation and World Heritage Policies

Carolina Castellanos provided the COF Lecture titled “State of Conservation and World Heritage Policies.”

As an introduction of Carolina Castellanos, she is a cultural heritage consultant from Mexico who specializes in the conservation and management of heritage sites, particularly on archaeological and earthen architecture sites.  For the past 18 years, she has consulted for diverse international organizations such as The Getty Conservation Institute, ICCROM, ICOMOS and UNESCO’s World Heritage Center on a variety of issues ranging from management planning for heritage sites to policy development for cultural heritage.  While Mexico is her home, she spends the better part of the year to heritage sites.

Carolina discussed the current statutory processes for the assessment of World Heritage properties and examined the challenges faced in the implementation of international policies, with a particular focus on climate change and sustainable development in the conservation and management of sites.

She started by talking briefly about the World Heritage Convention and what happens to a site when it makes the list.  It is a challenge that is being faced by the sites on the list and the management of these sites.

She outlined that international doctrine includes conventions, recommendations and declarations, all by the following groups:

  • UNESCO
  • ICOMOS
  • ICOM
  • Council of Europe

Important Conventions are dated in the following years: 1954, 1970, 1972, 2001 and 2003; each has the weight of international law, and as ratified by governments these serve as international treaties.

World Heritage Convention (WHC) was adopted in 1972.  As of June 2010, 188 states have ratified it.  The implementation of the Convention is guided by the text of the Convention itself, as well as the operational guidelines, which lay out many of the implementation procedures.  Overall it is meant as a tool for international cooperation.

The Convention brings both culture and nature together under one umbrella.  As preservation professionals, she said that we are concerned with the operational guidelines.

Definition of heritage was created in 1970s and we now realize that the definitions are narrow and simplistic; however, we don’t need to update the Convention to reflect current notions as the world changes, as the procedural guidelines are kept up to date to address: Cities, Monuments and sites, Natural landscapes, and Cultural landscapes.  For example, cultural landscapes was only included in 1992.  Recent additions include: cultural routes

Intangible heritage is another item we need to be concerned with.  It cannot be world heritage itself, unless it is associated with a place.  Yet it can include:

  • Oral traditions
  • Performing arts
  • Social practices, rituals, and festive events
  • Knowledge and practices

Carolina then spent some time addressing the meaning of outstanding cultural values and what does it mean.  Does it mean uniqueness?  Exceptional?  Rarity?  Fortunately, we have Paragraph 49 of the WHC, which says: outstanding universal value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries.  This factor was embedded in the Preamble of the Convention.

In recent years:  we’ve come to realize that there are three pillars of outstanding universal value:

  • Criteria,
  • Integrity, and
  • Authenticity
  • However, we’ve recently added Protection and Management as a fourth pillar

With the description of the WHC, Carolina then spent some time discussing what happens when places are put on the list?World Heritage processes include:

  • World Heritage (WH) list
  • Tentative lists (state partners create)
  • Nominations
  • Reactive monitoring
  • Periodic reporting
  • State of conservation (SoC) not “sock”

When the state of conservation for WH properties are reviewed against trends affecting them, all of the following trends have increased their impacts:

  • Development and infrastructure
  • Human activities
  • Natural events and disasters
  • Management and legal issues
  • Other issues

Threatened properties are often a result of a lack of a management plan.  Common issues with this include:

  • Management plans are often considered an end unto themselves and not tools for decision making;
  • Disarticulation between attributes and prescribed course of action for conservation and management;
  • No clear understanding of OUV;
  • Unsustainable policies i.e. not political financially or technically; and
  • Lack of participate of the community.

A global strategy was launched in 1994:

  • Ensure the WH list represents diversity of heritage;
  • Provide a comprehensive framework and operational methodology for implementing the WH Convention;
  • Increase efforts to encourage countries to become States Parties to the Convention; and
  • Prepare tentative lists of WH properties.

Carolina then applied her points to the WH site of Chavin de Huantar, Peru

  • Work with policy makers to address challenges;
  • Integration of climate change variables at the site live monitoring;
  • Development of strategy for risk reduction in coordination with MAB program and WH property of Huascaran; and
  • Pilot case for communication, education and awareness building relating to adaption measures.

Glaciers in this area of Peru have been monitored since 1940s and are melting.  They don’t have research that they are being affected by climate change.  But they can make the argument that changes will have an impact on the heritage site.

Carolina’s final considerations stated that the dynamic nature of heritage is that it is always changing definitions and needs a variety of approaches to conservation and management.  Understanding social and natural contexts is critical for the success of planned, collaborative and sustainable solutions.

Sustainability involves the rights of the present and of future generations.  We need to:

  • Anticipate and manage conditions, mitigate impacts, develop precautionary principles; and
  • Develop policy approaches or general solutions to common development challenges.

Threats are increasing, but so are the potentials, such as contribution of heritage conservation to sustainable development, poverty alleviation, MDG goals, etc.  It is possible to develop:

  • A proactive, participatory approach to enhance the potential synergies between development and conservation (we especially need to enhance the synergies).
  • Integrate World Heritage into national and local planning processes.

Ultimately, she stated that heritage is a conduit for development and should not be worked around.  With Carolina’s outlook, the ongoing protection and management of the world’s heritage sites are in good hands.

Sincerely,

Lonnie J. Hovey, AIA, FAPT
Program Manager, Historic Preservation
V I T E T T A

Posted in APT Conference | Tagged | Leave a comment

Conservation in the Time of Cholera

Rosa Lowinger and Viviana Domiguez
Conservation in the Time of Cholera:  The Stabilization and Removal Of Murals at the St. Trinite Cathedral in Port-au-Prince

Rosa Lowinger and Viviana Domiguez went to Haiti to help in the recovery of culturally significant murals after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that left more than 250,000 Haitians dead and many more displaced.  Soon after the earthquake,  the Smithsonian Institute established the Haitian Cultural Recovery Center to aid in salvaging what remains of Haiti’s heritage.  The earthquake turned many of the iconic structures to rubble.

Of importance was the St. Trinite Episcopal church that was severely damaged by the quake.  There were 14 murals within the church that depicted scenes from the life of Christ within a local Haitian setting.  Remnants of only three murals were salvageable.  Without any governing infrastructure in place, the challenges of trying to stabilize and remove the murals at first seemed insurmountable.  The ability to get supplies and resources required ingenuity.  Assistants from the community needed to be trained.  Most importantly, it was critical that the survivors come to be part of the project and know that the murals could be saved.

It was decided that the murals needed to be removed from the ruins of the church.  They were stabilized with gauze, removed from the walls, and carefully moved.  Before storage in  shipping containers the gauze was removed so that mold would not damage the pieces in the uncontrolled storage environment.

During this time the conservators faced a constantly changing environment and even endured an outbreak of cholera in the country.  The people of Haiti were suffering greatly.  They felt that they had lost everything, but still felt the only thing left was their culture.  Thanks to people like Lowinger and Domiguez, the Haitians have these murals.

Mary Striegel, Ph.D.
Chief, Materials Research
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training

Posted in APT Conference | Tagged | Leave a comment

Adaptive Use: Community Revitalized Through Urban Agriculture

In Friday’s Session CS 18, Jessica Blemker-Ferree’s presentation was titled “Adaptive Use: Community Revitalized Through Urban Agriculture,” which is a presentation based on her thesis.  She said that urban agriculture has been discussed a lot recently, but needs to be brought into community development more.  With the future decrease of water availability and the increase of oil costs, food sources need to be brought closer to the urban populations.  For years food production was close or within cities; however, that has changed in the last 50 years.  Yet, since the 1970s, urban farming is a reoccurring, growing paradigm for food production, which is motivated by community activism.

Seen today, many are incorporating urban agricultural uses into remediated lots.  In those situations it is best to use raised beds on old urban lots, to reduce contamination of the grown food.  There are many benefits, such as it increases community connections, lessens crime and involves youth with older generations all while learning skills and producing food.  All across the country, cities are peppered with brownfields (abandoned gas stations) and grayfields (abandoned malls, parking lots).  These both are ripe for adapting.  Particularly since grayfields do not often require remediation (brownfields do).  But even for the brownfields, one can plant the area with non-food plants to improve the soil and neighborhood.

Jessica provided several examples of urban agriculture:

  • East Village in New York City.
  • Chicago Honey Co-Op.
  • Alameda Point Collaborative Urban Form, CA built on a closed naval air base, where farming within abandoned buildings improves the site and improves the neighborhoods.

She recommends that this approach be expanded.  Rather than reuse the land, we need to be able to incorporate the old buildings.  Factory to loft use is a known reuse conversion, but converting them to use as farms are also helpful.  In this vein, she provided additional examples:

  • Wall gardens in Los Angeles, California’s skid row.
  • 1886 railway tunnels now an exotic mushroom farm in Australia
  • Hoop houses put on roofs to create rooftop farms on empty industrial buildings

Indoor farming has many advantages.  As such, one can do vertical farming, an example of which is hydroponic grown farms over fish farms, all within the same area.  Examples include:

  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Sweetwater Farm
  • Also “The Plant,” located in Chicago, Illinois, which has 93,500 SF of space that is a farm with a brewery and landscaping business.

In conclusion, is the future of food production related to preservation concerns?  Yes.  It is already practiced in cities today and provides:

  • efficient food production,
  • saves applicable reuse options, and
  • explores alternative methods to grow food.

For more information, Jessica recommended a new book “The Vertical Farms.”

Lonnie J. Hovey, AIA, FAPT
Program Manager, Historic Preservation
V I T E T T A

Posted in APT Conference | Tagged | 1 Comment

Conserving Ecologically and Culturally Significant Military Landscapes

Richard Linzey’s Friday morning presentation was titled “Guns and Roses: Conserving Ecologically and Culturally Significant Military Landscapes.”  Richard currently works for a branch of British Columbia Heritage and previously worked for English Heritage, with whom the following project was completed.

Richard discussed a site known as the Landguard Peninsula, located at Felixstowe, Suffolk, England.  Much of the project dealt with working to understand the values of the historic place and then designing a project approach, which acknowledged the cultural and architectural significances held by the variety of stakeholders.

The site was used from 1534 to 1996 for military purposes.  England was at war for 53 times during that period, which had implications for the constructions at the site.  The site was important because, strategically, the military ships could sit at anchor while under the protection of heavy guns.  Today, it is one of England’s top fifteen ancient monuments slated for initial consolidation.  At 60 hectares, it is both a remnant and an active cultural landscape with many layers of fortifications installed over 500 years of history.

While the peninsula is protected under English law (the natural parks act, countryside act and ancient monument act), Richard asked Why does this place matter?  Before they could develop a project approach, they needed to understand the various answers to this question.  Especially when you consider that landscapes are in a constant state of change, one needs to understand the values in order to put a treatment and maintenance plan together.

These are some of the many values that were discovered:

  • 500 years of artillery cost defenses matters to military historians.
  • Archaeology of above and below ground features.
  • Has local value as an amenity for community events and as a tourism attraction.
  • A local museum and archives are housed there.
  • Home to one of the largest container ports and is valued for a nearby aggregate industry.
  • Sea anglers and dog walkers enjoy almost unrestricted access.
  • Local nature reserve that is valued for its biodiversity.
  • One of the gun batteries now serves as a bird observatory, as the site is the first landfall for various migration patterns, and has little impact on the battery buildings.  Another battery is home to the Suffolk Moth Group, both of which are excellent adaptive reuses for the battery buildings.
  • The emergency battery, blocked up and contains water has become home to the rare species of the great crested newt.

Arising from a greater understanding of the various community and regional values, they developed the Landguard Forum, as a council to share the values of the site with one another.  All discovered that all the values could exist without dominating one value over another.  As a result, the site has a patchwork of values, which is often the case for cultural landscapes.

From this, they were able to develop a project scope, which initially focused upon improving safety issues at the site, stabilization efforts and aid the continued opportunities to retain all the values.  Completed work includes:

  • Restored the fence that once surrounded the entire fort, but still allowed access for the dog walkers and minimized the possibility of accidents.
  • Improved the museum’s interior environment.
  • Excavated a battery to expose industrial archaeology and restored view scapes.
  • Revealed and increased knowledge about one of three Jacobean forts that were built; featured new information on the Dutch raids (the only battle at the site) and found the 1667 battlefield.
  • Protected the biodiversity.
  • Visitor safety improved.
  • Public and staff health and safety issues were addressed at the bird observatory with new utilities, fire alarms and toilets for their use.
  • Restored the ventilation systems on all the batteries.
  • Created a balance between scientific and historical values and kept the rabbit population at a set amount thru annual culling.
  • Enhanced the tourism experience and increased interpretation of the site.
  • Also strengthened the community by discussing what everyone valued at the site.

Lonnie J. Hovey, AIA, FAPT
Program Manager, Historic Preservation
V I T E T T A

Posted in APT Conference | Tagged | Leave a comment