This presentation was part of A Century of Design in the Parks Symposium, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 21-23, 2016.

By Tim Castillo and Andriane Zachmanidis


The role of technology in the fields of preservation, interpretation, and management is rapidly changing. We are interested in ways that federal, state, and local agencies tasked with work in these fields can best use emergent technology as a tool. Our research focuses on the question; what can emergent technologies do to help us reach our preservation and interpretive goals? Another focus of this research is into the limits of today’s technologies, the evolution of technologies, and technological obsolescence.

In 2008 our research began in the Dixon/Embudo region working in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of faculty, students, and the community. The research scope started with the investigation focused on the evolution of the acequia system that had its origins dating back to the early settlement of the Spanish in northern New Mexico in the early 1600’s. In working with the team and community members, we created the Virtual Embudo Project.

The Virtual Embudo Project grew and evolved into the Virtual New Mexico Project an open-source cultural digital media archive platform is utilizing a variety of technologies that incorporated geospatial referencing, digital photography, aerial imagery and digital video documentation. The emergence of Google Earth as a user-friendly platform allowed the team to facilitate a platform that community members could utilize to better understand the historical evolution of their community.

In ongoing evaluations of the VNMP we are finding that there are many limitations to using a technology that when we started using it back in 2008 it was both emergent and cutting edge. We were using the Google Earth platform to disseminate our research to a larger audience as an open-source tool and a geo-referencing data visualization tool. As technologies continue to change and companies continue to alter their meaning of “open source” we strive to evolve with these emergent platforms. There are many ways we try to stay atop and overcome these limitations. We are constantly bringing in new technologies and testing their limits, we work with professionals, faculty, and students to keep atop these changes, and because we are research laboratory at the state’s flagship university there is an expectation for us to lead the charge within the growing field of historical and cultural digital documentation.

We continue to pursue an iterative methodology in evaluation of emergent platforms. We are pursuing new technologies that support our efforts in cultural digital documentation of public spaces across the state of New Mexico. This project proposal seeks to look at new immersive 3d visualization technology based on gigapan panoramic images, photogrammetry models layered into a game engine for historical interpretation and preservation purposes. While typical game engines excel at creating an immersive environment produced from high-resolution photography, our work will explore how to embed historical sources and the like and their current limitations. We intend to highlight the importance of historic preservation and the story behind the present day facade. Our project will demonstrate new methods and approaches to visual communication around history, preservation, and the morphology of place.


Tim B. Castillo is a tenured Associate Professor at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico. He is the Director of the Art, Research, Technology and Science Laboratory an interdisciplinary digital media laboratory at the University. The lab focuses on cultural digital media and has received national and international recognition for innovation excellence. Professor Castillo has published and exhibited nationally and internationally in various locations including the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (Spain), Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), Pavillon de l’Arsenal (France), Bienal of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and the University of Waterloo (Canada).

Adriane Zacmanidis is a systems-based strategic thinker who has worked globally for the past 20 years in the fields of Cultural Heritage + Conservation, Multimedia + Design, and Education. Utilizing a holistic approach, which she applies to strategies of creative engagement, Adriane weaves multimedia and emergent technologies throughout her practice as a means to help guide, visualize, and engage with diverse audiences in meaningful ways. She is an educator at both the secondary and university levels, and has designed award winning exhibits, curricula, and programs for learners of all ages. Adriane holds advanced degrees in Museum Sciences, Education, Architecture, and Historic Preservation. She sits on various boards, and associations.

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
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