In 2012, the Architecture & Engineering Program focused on sustainability, undertook research on traditional materials and assemblies, supported professional development and conferences, and kicked-off an effort to improve traditional trades training opportunities.
NCPTT continued its work at the nexus of sustainability and historic preservation. The National Center began the year by sponsoring the Victoria Sustainability Symposium, convening two days prior to the Association for Preservation Technology International (APT) Annual Conference in Victoria, Canada. More than eighty participants reviewed and discussed the development of the On- line Sustainable Conservation Assistance Resource (OSCAR), an interactive tool that assists practitioners in making the decisions necessary for the sustainable understanding and treatment of historic buildings. OSCAR will address the challenges associated with different types of buildings, climate conditions, and governing policies and codes to improve building performance while protecting heritage value.
Through the PTT Grant program, NCPTT supported a study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation that weighs the financial and energy tradeoffs between replacing or repairing older, less efficient windows. The report, “Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement,” analyzes decades of research on the performance of double- hung windows, comparing the relative energy, carbon, and cost savings of various choices in multiple cities across the United States. The report concludes that upgrading windows (specifically older, single-pane models) with exterior storm windows and insulating shades can result in substantial energy savings across a variety of climate zones.
NCPTT also consulted with Louisiana State University’s Coastal Sustainability Studio on a project at Fort Proctor, located in Lake Borgne, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. The fort was intended to protect New Orleans, but suffered hurricane damage and was deemed obsolete before construction was completed. The students undertook HABS documentation of the structure and investigated a variety of reuse strategies that incorporate the building, environment, landscape, and infrastructure. The interdisciplinary project is led by Professor Ursula Emery McClure of the School of Architecture, and includes professors and students from the School of Landscape Architecture and the College of Civil & Environmental Engineering.
This past summer, NCPTT once again presented a three-day workshop to prepare participants for the LEED Green Associate Exam. For the first time, NCPTT offered the course as a live webinar which allowed students from across the U.S. to participate. This highly successful workshop series is set apart from other LEED exam preparation courses in that it is tailored to practitioners working in historic preservation—featuring instructors with real preservation project experience and real world case studies that demonstrate the application of the LEED process to historic buildings and sites.
TRADITIONAL TRADES TRAINING
Since the 1960s, preservationists have recognized that the future of our built cultural heritage is greatly dependent upon the availability of trades people equipped with appropriate knowledge and skills. General consensus within the preservation community acknowledges that there are insufficient numbers of workers who possess the skills required to maintain and preserve older buildings and that the current workforce is aging at a rate that promises only to exacerbate future labor. As the only entity within the Federal government charged with broadly fostering training in preservation skills, it is incumbent upon the National Center to take leadership on this issue and in FY2012, the Architecture & Engineering program launched the Traditional Trades Training Initiative.
In August, the National Center hosted a meeting on traditional trades training at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Participants from the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center, Technical Preservation Services, Vanishing Treasures Program, and a host of industry partners agreed to work to facilitate awareness and connections among existing preservation trades training programs, improve preservation trades training for the NPS, and develop technical information to support preservation trades work. To help capture and disseminate the work already being done by trades educators across the country, the National Center has sponsored the development of Traditional Trades Exchange (traditionaltrades.org), a website and online community.
A follow-up meeting was held during the concurrent annual conferences of APT and the Preservation Trades Network (PTN) in Charleston, South Carolina. The joint conference brought together traditional crafts people, architects, engineers, conservators, and other preservation stakeholders and sparked an excited dialogue about the future of traditional building trades in America. Participants recognized that the successful stewardship of our cultural resources is dependent upon the availability of properly trained crafts people and issued the Declaration of Charleston, stating their intent to work together with partners, including NCPTT, to address the skills shortage. The National Center’s presentation to PTN generated an animated discussion and a long list of participants interested in supporting the trades initiative.
Also at the Charleston conferences, NCPTT joined Christman & Co. in supporting a Cannon Carriage Workshop for students of the American College of the Building Arts and Savannah Technical College. Participants learned traditional woodworking skills and gained experience using traditional tools to construct two new replacement cannon carriages for eighteen-pound Revolutionary War guns from Fort Sumter National Monument.
Since its establishment in 1992, the National Center has supported a number of the trades training opportunities across the country. In FY2012, the Architecture & Engineering program was pleased to announce the release of Masonry History Integrity: an Urban Conservation Primer by Tom Russack. This primer was developed through a PTT Grant to the Abyssinian Development Corporation (ADC), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the residents of Harlem. In response to the unemployment or underemployment of Central Harlem’s out-of-school youth, ADC developed its innovative Youthbuild Masonry Preservation program to introduce students to construction, masonry preservation, green technology, building repair, and the conservation of the urban
environment. Masonry History Integrity captures the essence of that program, providing guidance for classroom teaching and trades training sessions. The initial launch was well received and the primer has already been adopted in multiple preservation trades programs.
In FY2012, the National Center engaged in a number of activities aimed at disseminating knowledge among preservation practitioners. NCPTT continued its development of Preservapedia, a wiki knowledge base for preservation professionals, and Architecture & Engineering staff member Ed FitzGerald presented the project at the APT Annual Conference in Charleston. A lively discussion on the merits and pitfalls of Preservapedia’s “open source” approach to professional knowledge erupted after the presentation, generating great interest in the project.
Architecture & Engineering staff presented on NCPTT activities at a number of other national conferences including the Twenty-Second Annual Symposium on Public Monuments in Tribute to Rudolf Wittkower in New York City. The theme of the symposium was Two Monuments to Caring: the BSA’s Scouts with Disabilities Program and the High School for Preservation Arts Program (PAT). Andrew Ferrell presented on the National Center’s involvement in supporting the creation of a high school curriculum for the preservation arts and technology. Co-presenters included Kate Burns Ottavino of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund, and faculty and students of the Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design, Brooklyn, New York. Ferrell and Executive Director Kirk Cordell also presented at the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation annual conference on sustainable preservation, and at the 1st annual Preservation Education Conference in Providence, Rhode Island.
Kirk Cordell presented on the National Center’s programs and on 21st century technologies for preservation practice at the University of Florida’s Preservation Institute in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Cordell was also invited to deliver the 6th annual Morrison Memorial Lecture at the Williams Research Center of the Historic New Orleans Collection in March, 2012. His presentation, “Preservation in the 21st Century: How Technology is Reshaping the Management of Historic Resources,” was sponsored by the Historic New Orleans Collection, the Friends of the Vieux Carré Commission, and Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents, and Associates, Inc.
RESEARCH AND TRAINING
Architecture & Engineering staff offered or supported a range of training events and conferences across the country in FY2012. These included working with Save Our Cemeteries to conduct a cemetery restoration and volunteer certification workshop in New Orleans, Louisiana. Architecture & Engineering staff member Sarah Jackson instructed participants on the preparation and application of limewash to maintain historic tombs. The training was based on NCPTT’s ongoing research on traditional lime-based coatings.
In February, NCPTT helped sponsor a symposium on preparing for and responding to disasters affecting cultural resources. The event was held on the College Station campus of Texas A&M University and was organized by the school’s Center for Heritage Conservation and the Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center. Topics included research showing that traditional structures can perform better than modern reinforced concrete buildings during earthquakes, reporting how floods affected the cultural heritage of Prague in 2002, sharing lessons learned from experiences dealing with Gulf Coast hurricanes, and discussing the unique problems affecting cultural resources in urban environments like New York City.
To increase the National Center’s technical capacity, Architecture & Engineering staff attended a course in March entitled, “Mothballing Historic Buildings, Structures, and Landscapes,” held in Marconi, California. The course, presented jointly by California State Parks and the National Park Service, identified the complexities associated with the closure of government-owned historic sites and introduced participants to some of the preventive measures that can be taken to mitigate negative impact on cultural fabric. Staff also attended a symposium on the preservation of cast iron architecture in costal environments in April in Galveston, Texas. The symposium, organized by the Galveston Historical Foundation, featured presentations by engineers, conservators, contractors, and pattern makers, as well as field sessions exploring restoration of the city’s rich collection of cast iron architecture.
SUPPORTING WORLD HERITAGE IN THE AMERICAS
NCPTT sponsored the 2012 United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS) International Symposium in San Antonio, Texas. The symposium celebrated the 40th anniversary of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention and sessions focused on the cultural heritage of the Americas. The highlight of the meeting was a speech given by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar expressing his support for the nomination of the five San Antonio Missions, now on the United States’ tentative list for consideration, to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
A COLLABORATIVE FOR INNOVATIVE LEADERSHIP
NCPTT’s Andrew Ferrell was invited to participate in a workshop held at the Pocantico Conference Center in Tarrytown, New York, to explore innovation within the National Park Service (NPS). Director John Jarvis charged a small group of Park Service employees and partners with defining an operational strategy for the NPS to help it organize a national network of collaborators who will foster creativity, experimentation and innovation. This ongoing effort is being led by Deputy Director Mickey Fern and is facilitated by the NPS Conservation Study Institute.