Highlights from the 2014 APT Conference

Last month, Evan Kopelson, Berta de Miguel and Kristen Olson traveled to Quebec City for the annual conference of the Association for Preservation Technology International. APT is a cross-disciplinary member organization promoting the best technology for conserving historic structures and their settings¹. The theme of this year’s conference was métissage, or the fruitful encounter of differences.

Chateau Frontenac

The Monument to the Faith statue and fountain with the Chateau Frontenac behind.

The conference was held at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, an iconic historic hotel situated on a high cliff overlooking the Saint Lawrence River. The hotel is located within the fortified walls of the old city, the most intact example of a colonial walled city north of Mexico and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Against this spectacular backdrop, the APT conference offered a chance to hear from preservation professionals engaged in all types of work around the globe. Over 600 people were in attendance, with four simultaneous presentation tracks exploring a variety of preservation and conservation topics. Presentations included case studies ranging from traditional mud-brick buildings to modern and even postmodern structures, and from the application of technology to characterize material properties to management strategies for academic campuses and national parks.

Evan Kopelson describes Vertical Access’ investigation of the Sibley Hall Dome.

VA Partner Evan Kopelson, along with Janet Null of Argus Architecture & Preservation, P.C. presented Sibley Hall Dome: Integrating Investigative Techniques to Diagnose and Preserve an Iconic Steel Roof. The presentation examined the cross-disciplinary approach and investigative techniques used by the project team to understand the condition of the dome and to determine appropriate treatments. As part of the team for the conceptual design phase, VA used industrial rope access to perform a hands-on investigation of the dome, built in 1902 to connect the existing east and west wings of Sibley Hall on the campus of Cornell University. VA used an ultrasonic thickness gauge to measure the thickness of the dome’s sheet metal cladding, and employed live-feed video to discuss connection details with project team members in real time. Moisture testing at the interior of the dome confirmed condensation as the cause of corrosion in limited areas. Hands-on inspection showed the structure and cladding of the dome to be in good shape overall, and the information gathered during the investigation led the project team to recommend a conservative repair treatment that will preserve much of the dome’s original fabric.

Lower Town

Place Royal in Quebec City’s Lower Town

The conference was packed with activities, but we found a little bit of time to explore Vieux Quebec, walking among 17th and 18th century buildings in the Lower Town and touring the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. One of the highlights was getting to know our tablemates and deciding as a group which dessert to bid on during the Student Scholar Dessert Fundraiser auction.

The pear tart created by the Chateau Frontenac's pastry chef was amazing!

The pear tart created by the Chateau Frontenac’s pastry chef was amazing!


A narrow street in the Lower Town leading to the Funicular.

photo 1 (1)

Ceramic plaques identify historic buildings in the Lower Town.

photo 4

Many of the shops in the Lower Town have whimsical signs like this one.

Chateau at night

The Place d’Armes and Chateau Frontenac at dusk.

We’re looking forward to APT’s 2015 conference in Kansas City, Missouri!

To learn more about APT, visit www.apti.org. 

Vertical Access was proud to be a Conference Premier Sponsor for APT’s 2014 conference.

1 Paraphrased from apti.org.