Last week, architects, engineers, and preservationists made the trek to Salt Lake City for Mesa to Mountain: Preservation in the American West. The three-day symposium, hosted by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology International, drew audiences and presenters from New England to the Pacific North West. Vertical Access’ Kent Diebolt and Kristen Olson served on the Planning Committee. VA technicians Patrick Capruso, Kevin Dalton, and Keith Luscinski also attended.
Mesa to Mountain opened at the historic Alta Club with a reception and plenary session presented by Peter Goss, Ph.D. on architectural typologies found in the Beehive State. The symposium moved across South Temple the following morning to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building where Lee Kreutzer, Cultural Resource Specialist for the NPS National Trails System, delivered her keynote address, “Paths, Pathogens, Ponies, and Wheels: How Trails Changed the Cultural Geography of America.” Kreutzer’s overview provided context for the paper sessions which focused on seismic mitigation, materials, and cultural heritage. Presenters offered talks on a variety of subjects specific to western architecture and preservation ranging from the influence of midcentury precast concrete in the Rocky Mountain Region to documenting the decorated earthen plaster and wood of a 12th century kiva at Utah’s Bare Ladder Ruin. Mesa to Mountain’s regional focus lent a sense of relevance to the paper sessions with common threads woven through each presentation.
Those same themes were apparent during the field sessions offered on the third day of the event. Whether it was a trip to Antelope Island State Park to catch a glimpse of bison and pronghorn sheep while exploring an 1848 adobe ranch house, touring the shop at Historical Arts and Casting, one of the nation’s premier metal casters, or viewing the base isolators at the Utah State Capitol Building and the lattice-truss arch system at the Mormon Tabernacle each session reinforced information presented the day before. The Mesa to Mountain Symposium was a success due in large part to its historic venues and regional focus.
On a recent trip to Peru I had the opportunity to visit some of the ruins at Chan Chan, located in La Libertad province around the city of Trujillo. Built around 1200, Chan Chan served as the capital of the Chimu Kingdom until falling to the Incas around 1480. The city covered 20 square km, was the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and a monumental example of earthen architecture. At its height Chan Chan is believed to have had a population of around 60,000 people.
Due to the consistency of the swells in nearby Huanchaco, I was preoccupied with surfing for most of my time in the Trujillo area and only visited the Tschudi Complex, a relatively small section of the Chimu city. In all the city consisted of 9 walled citadels, or palaces, so there are several more interesting sights worth visiting.
Preservation efforts at the Tschudi Complex, which is the only section of Chan Chan that has been partially restored, are ongoing. Most of the architectural details are modern recreations though there are a few originals that remain. Due to its geographic location on the northern coast of Peru the ruins are susceptible to erosion from the heavy rains brought on by the El Niño phenomenon so much of the Tschudi Complex is now covered by a protective roof structure, which I found to be interesting in its own way. Upon returning to Huanchaco I immediately recognized some of the same architectural motifs at the Instituto del Mar del Peru, Laboratorio Costero de Huanchaco.
Besides being an important cultural site I think that Chan Chan is also a powerful example of ecological construction. It’s interesting to see how a 500+ year old city constructed of locally sourced, earthen material slowly returns to it’s original form leaving almost no trace of it’s existence. Try to imagine what a modern city will look like 500+ years from now.
Learn more about Chan Chan on the UNESCO website.
In October, Technical Services staff visited the Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh to check in on an important step forward for the structure. The church, built in 1835, was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis and is a National Historic Landmark. The League named the Dutch Reformed Church a “Seven to Save” site for 2016-17 and is working with the City of Newburgh and local preservation advocates to make a stabilization, preservation, and re-use plan for the building.
In 2012, the sanctuary ceiling collapsed, crushing the pews inside and destroying additional important interior features. Because the condition of the building rapidly declined after the ceiling collapse, a complete structural analysis of the upper trusses and roof was absolutely necessary in developing a plan to save the building. But how could we complete this inspection and analysis when the building’s condition was so dangerous?
CONTINUE READING … Notes from the Field – Preservation League of New York State
Last week the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued an order to pastors and religious officials baring all involvement in placing churches on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Patrick Hildebrandt, founder of the Philadelphia Church Project, says the rigid edict wages war on historic Catholic church survival and preservation.
Source: New Directive From Archdiocese Is A Call To Arms Against Preservation
Predicted by its organizers to be the “greatest single event in history,” the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair was indeed a spectacle. One of the most notable structures of the Fair, and one of the few that still stands, is the New York State Pavilion. Looking to create a symbol of progress and to show off the state’s status as host of the Fair, Governor Rockefeller commissioned Philip Johnson, who worked with structural engineer Lev Zetlin, to design the New York State Pavilion. The pavilion was in fact an assemblage of three separate structures: the open-air Tent of Tomorrow, three interconnected Observation Towers, and the circular Theaterama.
Tent of Tomorrow in 2011, as seen from the Observation Towers.
Tent of Tomorrow in September, 2015.
Detail of repainted Tent of Tomorrow.
The Tent of Tomorrow was used for several years after the end of the Fair in 1965, first for music and art shows, then as the “Roller Round Skating Rink.” In the summer of 1974, the City closed the tent structure, citing the “hazardous condition” of the Kalwall roof panels. The multicolored roof panels were removed in 1976, leaving the structure in more or less its current state.
Although unused for over forty years, the Tent of Tomorrow is showing new life thanks to the work of New York area painters. The City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) who owns the structure, teamed with the New York Structural Steel Painting Contractors Association and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Local 806 (Structural Steel and Bridge Painters of Greater New York) to complete a spectacular painting project during the summer of 2015.
Labor for the painting project was donated through apprenticeship programs of the trade groups. Funding to provide meals for the crew during the work was raised through crowdsourced funding. The paint job not only returns the steel elements of the Tent of Tomorrow to their original appearance, it also helps to protect the structure from continued corrosion and deterioration. The painting project is one step in the long process being undertaken by DPR and the borough of Queens to stabilize and hopefully one day restore the Tent of Tomorrow and Observation Towers of the New York State Pavilion.
Photos by Vertical Access.
In April of 2015, the Friends of NCPTT, the World Monuments Fund, the American Institute of Architects St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis, and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial partnered to jointly present a symposium on the preservation of Mid-Century modern structures in St. Louis, MO. This three-day event brought experts together to present an in-depth understanding of the history, use, and preservation of materials found in Mid-Century modern architecture.
Evan Kopelson, partner at Vertical Access and Nancy Hudson, associate at Silman, co-authored the presentation Investigating and Understanding the New York State Pavilion’s Tent of Tomorrow and Observation Towers. It gives an overview of the New York State Pavilion’s innovative design and engineering, describes the current condition of the Tent of Tomorrow and Observation Towers, highlights the importance of archival research in revealing construction methods and details, and addresses reuse challenges. The entire presentation is available for viewing below.
About the Speakers
Nancy R. Hudson has 20 years of consulting structural engineering experience. Ms. Hudson joined Silman in 2005 and was named an Associate in 2007. Her projects include the restoration of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Restoration of New York City Hall and Restoration of Wyoming State Capitol. She is a member of the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) and the Association for Preservation Technology (APT). Ms. Hudson has a Master of Science in Civil Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Evan Kopelson is an architectural conservator with over twenty years of experience in the documentation and investigation of historic buildings. He is Vertical Access’ partner-in-charge of teams performing existing condition surveys, in situ testing services, and the characterization of building materials and finishes on buildings and bridges. Evan is a member of the ASTM Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings, and is a professional associate of the American Institute for Conservation, having formerly served as secretary/treasurer of the AIC’s Architecture Specialty Group. Evan has also served as vice-president of the Western Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology International.
More presentations from the symposium may be viewed on the NCPTT website.
On April 30, 2015 the New York Landmarks Conservancy presented their annual prestigious Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards for outstanding preservation projects in New York City.
Vertical Access is proud to have been part of the team that received recognition for the restoration of the Conrad B. Duberstein U. S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, NY.
General Services Administration
Goody Clancy & Associates
Boston Valley Terra Cotta
Jablonski Building Conservation
Nicholson & Galloway
Robert Silman Associates
The New York Landmarks Conservancy
General Services Administration
Traditional Buildings Magazine
A recent article in the Daily Commercial News describes the process of rehabilitating historic buildings – called heritage buildings in Canada – and mentions Vertical Access’ investigation of One King West, the former Dominion Bank Building in Toronto, Ontario. The article recaps a seminar presentation by Sarah Gray, managing principal with Halsall Associates, our client for the One King West project.
Ms. Gray highlighted the importance of archival research, testing, and inspection in the early stages of a repair or rehabilitation project. For One King West, Vertical Access provided a hands-on inspection and documentation of building conditions using TPAS®, the Tablet PC Annotation System. TPAS is now being used for the construction administration of the rehabilitation of One King West, demonstrating the flexibility and adaptability of the software for a variety of documentation and reporting needs.
The article, entitled “Heritage envelope rehab a balancing act”, was written by Dan O’Reilly and was published on January 5, 2015.
Vertical Access technicians inspect the One King West building in Toronto
More on this project
An article by Michael Beschloss in the New York Times, entitled A Place That Made Travelers Feel Important, recalls the 1963 demolition of Pennsylvania Station and hints at the possibility of a new Penn Station. The loss of Penn Station was a watershed event in the historic preservation movement, influencing the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966 and contributing to the preservation of countless other structures.
The article describes the financial situation that drove the decision to demolish the station: the Pennsylvania Railroad was losing money in the 1950s, and fearing a continued decline of passenger rail travel, the railroad’s executives decided to lease the site to the Madison Square Garden Corporation, which replaced the station’s grand public spaces with a new arena atop the existing platforms.
Mr. Beschloss includes architectural historian Vincent Scully’s oft-quoted observation comparing the old Penn Station with its current incarnation: “One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat.”
A sign that a new and more worthy Penn Station could be in the making is the fact that in 2013 the New York City Council voted to extend Madison Square Garden’s zoning permit for only 10 years. With the current station barely able to meet current demand, perhaps economic forces will once again shape a Penn Station that makes travelers feel, if not godly, then at least important.
For more about Penn Station’s past and future:
A new play retells the demolition of Penn Station against a backdrop of historic images: www.theeternalspaceplay.com
The Municipal Art Society of New York challenges leading design firms to envision a new Penn Station: www.mas.org/urbanplanning/new-penn-station-2/