What’s Next: Preservation

The future of preserving the past has arrived. Whether it’s green retrofitting, safeguarding ancient trades, or preparing buildings for the next Katrina, conservationists are finding smart ways to salvage the existing building stock. “Preservation means preserving what’s there, but it also means you can preserve the life of buildings if you make them more sustainable,” says Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Below, two other experts highlight trends that will ensure old architecture remains as good as new (and green too).

ONE year:

“We’re looking at new technologies to better and more rapidly document historic buildings before a disaster comes along. We’ve been working with Barrett Kennedy at Lousiana State University on video cameras with GPS systems on them. They allow you to drive down the street and record both information you see and geographic position, so that you have accurate documentation of what’s there. One of the problems in responding to a disaster is all your reference points—like street signs—can be gone.”

MARY STRIEGEL, head of the Materials Research Program at the National Center for Preservation Technology & Training

FIVE years:

“We have a critical issue with preservation trades. There are technologies that are being lost every day because people are no longer using them. If you talk to a young mason today, he may have never touched high-lime historic mortar or know how to use it, because he’s used to portland cement. The National Center for Preser-vation Technology and Training is very interested in improving preservation trades through technical programs with high schools.” —M.S.

TEN years:

“If you take an historic building, you will find that, despite the fact that you have original drawings, it wasn’t necessarily constructed that way. A laser scan doesn’t lie. You can take a 360-degree scan of a building and its surroundings. When you aggregate the scans together, you create a “point cloud”—a 3-D series of dots. That represents the building’s image. It’s highly accurate. If walls are out of skew, the laser picks that up. It takes the guesswork out of preservation. Within ten years it will become what people will be using.”

ROBERT MIDDLEBROOKS, industry-programs manager for Autodesk

What’s Next: The 1-5-10 Issue
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