NCPTT’s Architecture & Engineering program seeks to provide preservation practitioners with unique training opportunities and innovative research in the areas of building science, disaster preparedness, and environmental sustainability.

Partnerships: Reaching a Larger Audience

Participants and presenters discussing workshop on the porch at the Pitot House in New Orleans, LA.

Participants discuss workshop on the porch of Pitot House, New Orleans, LA.

The National Center partners with preservation organizations, non-profit preservation groups, and other National Park Service offices to leverage its research and training capabilities. In FY2011, NCPTT joined with the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) to offer a workshop entitled, “Envelope Performance Testing, Modeling and Monitoring,” October 6–7, 2010, in Denver, Colorado. This workshop featured an overview of emerging analysis, simulation and measuring tools used in evaluating the energy performance of historic buildings. The National Center also partnered with APT and the Presidio Trust to offer “Preserving Engineering: Nondestructive Evaluation Methods for Historic Structures,” November 5-6, at the Presidio in San Francisco, California. This workshop covered the concepts, theory and applications of nondestructive test methods for evaluating historic building materials and structural systems.

Recognizing that the future of the preservation profession is seeded in the next generation of practitioners, NCPTT is working with universities to enhance the state of pre-professional training in the field. In FY2011, the National Center hosted and funded the initial meeting of the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC) Consortium for Historic Preservation and Conservation Studies. SECAC is an academic consortium consisting of twelve universities located across the southeastern United States. Members of the consortium met with NCPTT staff to discuss development of a preservation curriculum that would supplement courses at SECAC architecture schools. The goal of this project is to create an intercollegiate program that provides students with a state-of-the-art education in preservation theory, technology, and design—drawing experience from the faculty of each of school as well as professionals in government and private practice.

Incorporating modern mechanical systems into historic buildings can involve complex decisions, fraught with difficult choices. In the spring of 2011, NCPTT partnered with the Louisiana Landmarks Society and Tulane University School of Architecture to offer a workshop entitled, “Preservation Re-engineering,” on implementing 21st century low-energy environmental systems in 19th century buildings. The workshop, held at the historic Pitot House in New Orleans, Louisiana, exposed participants to the decision making process inherent in designing and implementing low impact environmental systems for historic buildings.

Preparing for Disaster

The impact of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 served as a “wakeup call” for many, including the historic preservation community. Since that catastrophic event, NCPTT has been committed to providing preservationists and emergency managers with the knowledge and resources they need to prepare for disaster and respond appropriately when it affects cultural heritage. In FY2011, the National Center organized and participated in a session at the George Wright Society Conference held March 14-18, 2011, in New Orleans. The session brought together a panel of experts to help identify risks to heritage resources in coastal areas, share on-going disaster planning efforts, and discuss pre-disaster mitigation strategies. The goal of the session was to create a larger dialog with emergency management professionals on the importance of integrating cultural resource protection into disaster preparedness planning and response.

Building Capacity Through Internal Partnerships

Ed FitzGerald films a worker notching a log during a workshop in Putney, KY.

Ed FitzGerald films a worker notching a log during a workshop in Putney, KY.

In FY2011, the Architecture & Engineering program sought to increase its engagement of other units in the National Park Service (NPS) and expand its utility to the entire agency.

Partnering with the Cane River National Heritage Area, NCPTT convened a roundtable discussion on urban ecology on November 3, 2011, in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Urban ecology promotes an ecosystems approach in understanding the nexus formed between natural and cultural systems in sustainable communities. Participants in the November roundtable discussed creating an urban ecology network where case studies of best and worst practices could be shared to edify community planners, architects, and developers alike.

In January 2011, the National Center convened a roundtable meeting of Washington NPS cultural resources staff and other interested parties to discuss activities related to sustainability in historic preservation. The goal of the Washington meeting was to improve communications and coordination of efforts on this topic. Participants discussed their recent work including the Park Service’s Project Sustainability Checklist, the development of new guidance on meeting sustainability and historic preservation goals, and offering LEED workshops designed for cultural resource specialists.

Each year, the threat of budget reductions reinforces the need to utilize cost-saving technologies to advance the National Center’s mission. In March, NCPTT staff members Ed FitzGerald and Jason Church travelled to Kentucky to film a workshop put on by the Pine Mountain Settlement School, Kentucky Heritage Council, and NPS Historic Preservation Training Center. This week-long workshop covered log care and repair techniques as participants got their hands dirty preserving a Civilian Conservation Corps-built ranger station. Footage collected from this workshop will be assembled in a series of instructional videos, allowing park staff and the public access to essential skills. This project serves as a prototype for capturing and disseminating information on a small budget.

In May, 2011, NCPTT partnered with the Washington Office of the National Park Service and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers to offer “Green Preservation: A LEED Technical Review and Exam Preparation Workshop” at the Hall of States in Washington, DC. This three-day workshop prepared participants to take the LEED Green Associate Exam and presented them with real-world case studies of historic preservation projects pursuing LEED certification. Participants represented the National Park Service, General Services Administration and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Stephen T. Mather Training Center collaborated with Cane River Creole National Historical Park (NHP) and the National Center to hold a course on “Preservation and Treatment of Park Cultural Resources” in Natchitoches in September, 2011. This forty-hour course was open to Facility Managers and Chiefs of Maintenance, the front-line stewards for park cultural resources. The curriculum focused on critical knowledge and skills these professional must possess in order to provide for the preservation, treatment, and maintenance of the cultural resources they oversee. The course was offered at NCPTT with a field day at Cane River Creole NHP, using the park as a laboratory for applying the knowledge and skills presented in classroom sessions.

Research and Field Projects

Jennifer Mui using FLIR SC 660 during energy audit of the Seed House at Oakland Plantation

Jennifer Mui using using an infrared camera during an energy audit at Oakland Plantation, Natchez, LA.

In the summer of 2011, NCPTT concluded its research entitled, A Comparative Study of Commercially Available Paint Strippers, which evaluated the performance of six products for removing paint from low and medium-fired historic brick. After analyzing the data, the National Center presented its research in Denver, Colorado, at the APT Annual Conference in October. With the completion of this study, testing began on evaluating the durability of limewash recipes to expand upon earlier work done on this traditional finish by NCPTT’s Sarah Jackson. Additional lime sources are being examined along with the effectiveness of additional coats.

In 2011, Jackson completed the requirements for certification by the Infrared Training Center as a Level I Thermographer. This qualification comes in addition to a Building Analyst certificate that she earned from the Building Performance Institute in 2010. These certificates qualify Jackson to oversee NCPTT’s research in using energy audits to improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings. Over the summer, she worked with Architecture & Engineering intern Jennifer Mui to perform an energy audit of the historic Seed House at Oakland Plantation, part of Cane River Creole NHP. Operational changes for the building may be required in the future as part of the NPS Green Parks Plan and data gathered through the energy audit will help identify areas for improvement and serve as a baseline from which to measure success.


Participants discuss workshop on the porch of Pitot House, New Orleans, LA.

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119