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Pueblo archaeological site at Bandelier National Monument

Pueblo archaeological site at Bandelier National Monument. Photo by Diana Painter.

by SAH/MDR President Diana Painter

Commemorations! Anniversaries! Celebrations!  The theme of this year’s SAH/MDR conference is commemorations.  I had the good fortune last summer to attend a celebratory symposium of the 100-year anniversary of the US National Park Service and the 50-year anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act in Santa Fe, NM entitled, “A Century of Design in the Parks.”  I joined like-minded National Park Service employees, State Parks employees, consultants and academics to discuss and debate the future of our professional practices and the future of our parks, with a particular focus on preserving the built environment.  It was a privilege to contemplate questions of conservation of natural resources and preservation of the built environment in our amazing parks resources with these colleagues.  In three intense days, two tracks of investigations were explored, the enormous contribution of the Civilian Conservation Corps to our parks, and legacy of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program.  Overarching themes were also explored, such as “Assessing Climate Vulnerability in Cultural Landscapes of the Pacific Northwest” (Robert Melnick and Noah Kerr, University of Oregon) and “Landscape Processes and Cultural Resources” (Laurie Matthews, MIG, Portland).

The NPS Region III Headquarters in Santa Fe is the largest Adobe office building in the U.S. Built in 1937-39 by the CCC.

The NPS Region III Headquarters in Santa Fe is the largest Adobe office building in the U.S. Built in 1937-39 by the CCC. Photo by Diana Painter.

I look forward to similarly rich discussions at our conference in Victoria, June 16-18, 2017, at the newly restored, 1863 Wentworth Villa.  We will help our fellow Canadians celebrate their 150-Celebration and – I anticipate – also explore our common concerns with preserving our architectural and landscape history through research, documentation and – celebration! Victoria offers a rich environment in which to explore these topics, with its layered cultural history and beautiful buildings and parks, all in a spectacular natural setting. Please consider joining us in Victoria.

Friendly reminder – Abstracts are due March 15th for conference papers.  Please remember that travel scholarships and free memberships are available to students whose papers are accepted for the conference.  Visit our website for more information and the Call for Papers: http://sahmdr.org/conference.html

In addition to our very own Annual Conference (remember, Victoria, B.C., June 16-18), there are a number of interesting events coming up in March and April.

Portland, Oregon:

Kingston W. Heath, Professor Emeritus will be talking about Nostalgic and Authentic Statements of Place: Interpreting the Industrial Vernacular on March 3, 2017 at noon, at the University of Oregon’s White Stag Building, Room 442.  See the flyer: heath-poster

Seattle, Washington:

Historic Seattle offers great programs throughout the year.  Of particular note are two lectures in March and April.  On Saturday, March 25, Stephen Gee will present a lecture on Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Seattle and Los Angeles.  On Saturday, April 29, Matthew Williams, the curator of Cardiff Castle in Wales will present TWO lectures in one afternoon.  Exploring British 19th Century Architecture and Interior Design will be followed by Ghastly Good Taste: A Century of British Interior Design 1880-1980.  The Stephen Gee and Matthew Williams lectures will both take place at The Chapel Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North.  The cost is $25.00 for members of Historic Seattle and $35.00 for the general public.
For full program listings: historic-seattle-2017-programs

The Northwest Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) will hold a workshop on Water Repellents & Historic Masonry on Saturday, April 29th at the Stimson-Green Mansion Carriage House in Seattle.  The use of water repellents on historic masonry is a divisive topic. Knowledgeable professionals who generally abide by the same preservation principles often confront a difference of opinion on the use of water repellent systems on historic buildings. One school of thought encourages the use of water repellents as a means to improve material performance, facilitate building cleanliness and protect the envelope from moisture intrusion. Another school of thought posits that water repellents will alter water vapor transmission systems that have been in place for decades, introducing the potential for deleterious short-and long-term effects. The goal for this event is to engender a lively discussion of water repellent systems by dispelling misconceptions, educating participants on the science of repelling water, and sharing case studies of historic masonry buildings with and without water repellent interventions.  The all-day event will feature several speakers and presenters.  Event details:  aptnw-water-repellant-workshop-final-flyer

Salt Lake City, Utah:

The Rocky Mountain Chapter, in cooperation with the Western and Pacific Northwest Chapters, of the Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI) is hosting Mesa to Mountain: Preservation in the American West on March 23-25 in Salt Lake City.  The two-day symposium will include paper sessions, tours, and a keynote address focusing on western sites, materials, and conditions.  Symposium details: mesa-to-mountain-save-the-date-1

 

 

The Construction History Society of America is holding a 2017 meeting in Seattle.  The event, which will be hosted by the UW’s Departments of Construction Management, Architecture, and the College of Built Environments will focus on “Construction History on the Frontier,” and will take place from July 20-22.  The keynote speakers are slated to be:  Jeffrey Ochsner (University of Washington), Mike Lombardi (The Boeing Company), Knute Berger (Crosscut) and Jon Magnusson (MKA Magnusson Klemencic Associates).

For more on CHSA and details of the Seattle meeting as they develop, go to http://www.constructionhistorysociety.org/.

There’s an exhibit of hand drawings (sketches) by the late Robert Hull in the gallery in Gould Hall, home of the UW College of Built Environments (through March 3).

For those of you who can’t visit Seattle, a virtual experience is available online at http://abobsketch.tumblr.com/.

Got something you’d like us to share with the membership?  Drop us a line (and maybe a picture) at info@sahmdr.org and let us know why you think it’s important!

“Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.”   —  Elie Wiesel

SOCIETY OF ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIANS 
MARION DEAN ROSS/PACIFIC NORTHWEST CHAPTER
ANNUAL CONFERENCE
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
JUNE 16 – 18, 2017

Abstracts or proposals for papers or work-in-progress reports are solicited for the 2017 annual meeting of the Marion Dean Ross/Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.  The meeting this year will be held June 16-18, 2017, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  This year’s theme is “Commemorations.”

canada150According to the National Park Service, a commemorative property is important not for association with the event or person it memorializes, but for the significance it has acquired after its creation through age, tradition, or symbolic value.  Please join us in Victoria, B.C., June 16-18, 2017, to celebrate commemorations, especially the Canada 150 celebrations (1867-2017), the 100th anniversary of the US National Park System (2016), the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (2016), and the Parks Canada’s Centennial (2011).  We will also be recognizing Victoria’s Centennial (1962) by reflecting on the on-going significance of Victoria’s 1965 Centennial Square.  Topics germane to the theme will be encouraged, but those covering any aspect of the built environment of the Pacific Northwest or beyond will be welcome.  Abstracts will be blind peer-reviewed by the SAHMDR Review Committee.

Membership in the SAHMDR is not required for abstract submission, although those chosen for presentation will be asked to contribute chapter dues for the current year.  Graduate students and advanced undergraduates in fields related to the built environment are particularly welcome.

Centennial Square, Victoria, B.C., 1965

Centennial Square, Victoria, B.C., 1965

 Submission Guidelines: The abstract should be no more than 300 words and should fit onto a single-sided page.  A single separate page should include the author’s name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address with a brief, 100-200 word paragraph biography or one-page curriculum vitae.  Indicate in your abstract whether you intend to deliver a twenty-minute paper or a ten-minute work-in-progress report.  Ideally, submissions should be analytical or critical in nature, rather than descriptive, and aim to make an original contribution.  Electronic submission of proposals is preferred.

Abstracts are due on or before March 15, 2017, and authors of papers chosen for presentation will be notified by April 15, 2017.  Completed manuscripts of accepted papers must be submitted in full to conference organizers by June 1, 2017.  Authors shall retain copyright, but will agree that the paper can be deposited for scholarly use in the chapter archive in the Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries.

Email submissions as a Word attachment with the subject heading SAHMDR 2017 on or before March 15, 2017, to Amanda Clark at sahmdr2017@gmail.com.  If you are unable to send your submission electronically, please send it via regular mail to:

Amanda C. R. Clark, MLIS, Ph.D.
Director of the Library & Assistant Professor in Art
Whitworth University
300 W. Hawthorne Road
Spokane, WA 99251

Victoria!

Parliament Buildings, Photo copyright Michael Foort.

Parliament Buildings, photo copyright Michael Foort.

In preparation for the Marion Dean Ross/Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians conference in 2017, we have reserved a block of rooms at the Union Club of British Columbia.  The conference will be held in Victoria, June 16-18, 2017.  The discounted block of rooms is limited, so we wanted to get the news out early to help you with your summer planning.

The Union Club will also serve as the site of our Saturday banquet.  It is a great place to immerse oneself in historic Victoria!  A PDF with more information on the special room rates is available here or at the SAH/MDR website at http://www.sahmdr.org/conference.html.

For more on the Union Club visit their website at http://www.unionclub.com/About-The-Club.aspx

The conference theme and program are coming together and more details will be available soon!

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone in Victoria!

The Construction History Society of America (CHSA) will meet in Austin, Texas, from May 26-28, 2016.  Twelve sessions covering a wide range of topics, from Colonial Latin America to Plastic Composite Construction, will be augmented by four tours covering Austin and its environs.

The overall theme of the meeting is:  Knowledge Exchange and Building Technology Transfer.  From the CHSA website:

“The History of Construction has evolved by experimentation, refinement, and by the transference of knowledge across different cultures and continents. The cross pollination of ideas, methods of construction, and even styles is characteristic of the development of the architectural discipline. In the Americas these encounters of cultures and modes of operation have created a rich scenario in which buildings emerge as result of the cultural exchange, insertion of new social orders, industrialization, and adoption of new technologies. As cities change and mature the exchange and influences have become an intrinsic part of this ongoing evolution (and revolution) that impacts the built environment and its methods of materialization.

This conference seeks to establish a discussion within the frame of the knowledge exchange and building technology transfer. We seek for research work that depicts the spectrum of scenarios, building solutions, industry, and cultural transformations that are the result of those exchanges and transferences. The discussions aim to  reflect on the assimilations, education, and transformation processes necessary when importing or exporting building technology reflecting on the particular solutions that emerged from the process itself.”

Tyler Sprague in action, presenting The Rise of the Exterior Bearing Wall, or "Tube" Skyscraper: An Alternative Perspective from Seattle. Photo by B. Niederer.

Tyler Sprague in action, presenting The Rise of the Exterior Bearing Wall, or “Tube” Skyscraper: An Alternative Perspective from Seattle. Photo by B. Niederer.

The CHSA is part of the larger International Congress on Construction History (ICCH), which meets every three years.  Last year, for the first time, the Congress ventured to the United States to meet in Chicago in June 2015.  At the Congress, more that 300 attendees represented at least 25 different nationalities.  Over the course of the five day conference there were 52 paper sessions, each featuring three to five papers (in published form, that’s around 1800 pages).  With such a proliferation of papers, it was natural that most attendees were also presenters.  In addition to paper sessions, there were also daily keynotes, social hours, and a full day of tours in and around Chicago.  The MDR Chapter of the SAH was well represented among the presenters, mainly due to Tyler Sprague (University of Washington), who presented not one, but two papers during the Congress.  Tyler Sprague will also present as part of the the upcoming Austin conference.

The question of, “What is construction history and why should we study it?” was raised multiple times.  Based on the Congress’ content, construction history is a happy combination of historical narrative and technical analysis.  That said, architectural and structural engineers who happen to like history appeared to be the dominant form of attendee.  As to the “why,” to quote Brian Bowen, the Chair Emeritus of CHSA:

“We use history not to predict the future—a common misunderstanding—but to prepare for it and to learn how things change and, more particularly, what causes change.  Knowledge of this kind is especially helpful now, as the American construction industry goes through a period of significant transformation. However, we also study history for other purposes that are important for our self-esteem: to ensure that great deeds are not forgotten and to instill a sense of pride in the industry to which we belong. This endeavor is important today as we struggle to attract people to build their careers with us.” (“Does Construction History Matter?,” Engineering News-Record, 5/11/2015)

Though these points can easily be translated to the Society of Architectural Historians, construction history shifts the focus away from the architect and toward everyone else.  As James Campbell (University of Cambridge)  pointed out during his keynote “Bricks, Books, Cathedrals, and Libraries,” about Christopher Wren’s library for Trinity College, it is likely that Wren only visited the library twice during his lifetime, and never after its completion.  So by calling it “Wren’s Library” a vast number of contributors are omitted, from clients to craftsmen to couriers and beyond.  So how did this shift away from architects express itself during 5ICCH?

The Willis (Sears) Tower, SOM, 1973. Photo by: B. Niederer.

The Willis (Sears) Tower, SOM, 1973. Photo by: B. Niederer.

Sessions tended to group papers into overall themes.  In some cases, presenters focused on very small elements.  For example, during a session on “Equipment and Elevation,” Ilaria Giannetti (University of Rome) looked at the far-reaching impact of tubular scaffolding, or more precisely, a “clamping bolt with a T-shaped head and a hinge,” patented by Ferdinando Innocenti in 1934.  The resultant scaffolding system was much used in cast-in-place concrete construction in Italy, including bridges of the Autostrada del Sole and Pier Luigi Nervi’s Palasport domes.  A much larger scale was addressed in the “Skyscrapers” session, which included an analysis of the 1969-1974 construction of Willis (Sears) Tower by John Zils; Skidmore, Owings, Merrill (SOM) Associate Partner Emeritus.  The structure’s modular “bundled tube” design employed by its structural engineer Fazlur Khan combined with extensive off-site prefabrication and streamlined personnel management (around 2400 people worked on the site each day) resulted in a building that was particularly efficient in terms of resources used, time, and costs.  The tale of the Sears Tower’s efficient progress, around two stories per week, contrasted with the tale of another building discussed during a keynote lecture:  “Frank Lloyd Wright and the Mile High Tower,” presented by William F. Baker, Structural and Civil Engineering Partner at SOM.  The primary difference between the Sears Tower and Wright’s Mile High Tower (also known as “The Illinois”) is of course that one is very real while the other remains hypothetical.  Could Wright, known for his “ground scraping” residential projects such as Chicago’s Robie House,” design a viable skyscraper in 1956?  Though conceptual drawings for the Mile High Tower rather resemble the half-mile tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai (for which the presenter served as the structural engineer), Wright’s foundation system, the “taproot” he employed at the Johnson Wax Research Tower (1950) would be ineffective in a mile high cantilever.  All structural issues aside, it is on the logistical end that Wright’s design would have fallen apart.  Contrast the construction progress of the two story per week Sears Tower with the five story per year Johnson Wax Tower.  The 18 million square foot interior would also present a commercial real estate nightmare.  In contrast, the Sears Tower’s 108 stories contain nearly 4.5 million square feet.  Sears initially intended to occupy 26 levels of the structure, leasing out the remainder, but eventually intended to occupy the ENTIRE structure.  That never quite happened and thus the Sears Tower became the Willis Tower, whose current largest tenant (United Airlines) occupies 20 floors.

Architectural Models at the Chicago offices of SOM. Photo by B. Niederer.

Architectural Models at the Chicago offices of SOM. Photo by B. Niederer.

SOM not only provided presenters to the Congress, but also hosted an evening reception at their Chicago offices.  Located in the Railway Exchange Building (Burnham & Root, 1904), the firm spreads the roughly 300 employees of the Chicago office over three floors arranged around a central atrium.  A large reception area, located on a lower level, is dominated by oversize renderings and models of the firms projects throughout the world.  Another large reception during the Congress was held at the Ballroom at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (formerly the Illinois Athletic Club; Barnett, Hayes, and Barnett, 1908).  Titled “We Built Chicago,” the event was sponsored by the Builders Association of Chicago and featured representatives from four construction firms talking about their history.  The companies were family businesses, one founded as early as 1856.  There was a certain jealousy of this west coaster for the continuous construction history and expertise represented on stage.

While the conference’s content skewed highly technical, occasionally resulting in rather overheated grey matter on my part, I can highly recommend attending a meeting of the Construction History Society, whether it be the upcoming Austin gathering or the next international meeting in Brussels in 2018.

For more on CHSA, go to http://www.constructionhistorysociety.org/.