Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Project Reports, Project Reports, Project Reports

Today when I woke up, I headed downstairs to brush my teeth, etc, and then sat down at the desk without even making myself a cup of coffee first. I wanted to briefly review what I had worked on yesterday and head to a coffee shop to work after that, but I ended up getting sucked back in. Here's a synopsis of what I'm working on:

Through working with them I have learned that seeminly 99% of preservation is done incorrectly and the problem is the fundamental. Bosses A and B have a preservation philosophy different from other conservators, which I will go into later. mind. It's not going to be a "Look what Boss A did!" site; rather, it's designed to educate people on what CAN be done. Buildings do not necessarily need to be stripped of historic fabric; much can be saved with proper and appropriate assessments and treatments, but everything begins with the goal of saving all original material. The idea that this CAN be done is the key their approach to HP. Also key is the replication of original materials using on-site resources such as local sands and clay instead of relying on product representatives to propose modern treatments that will not correspond and react aggreably to the original materials. One example is the use of portland cement as a mortar. Eighteenth century buildlings use high lime mortar that is less porous and much softer than the bricks it bonds, but repairs have been done for over a century using a hard portland cement that is harder and denser than the bricks, causing immeasurable damage. Today, the same portland cement that is used on modern constructions is still used to "repair" historic structures. This is unacceptable and is fatal to the fabric of historic structures.

I have been working on reports on a lighthouse and several historic houses--learning a lot!

Another big project the Bosses are working on at the moment is the reconstruction of a ceremonial room at the White House. When completed, the room will be Dick Cheney's equivalent to the Oval Office. Construction workers mistakenly ripped out the original floor and ceiling and trashed it, and before it could be salvaged it was gone. The floor was made from a now largely unavailable Cuban mahogany. An importer in Canada has a supply of Cuban mahogany furniture that will be disassembled and chopped up and used for its wood, and pieced together to make the parquet flooring of the room. A major project indeed. Yesterday I accompanied Boss A to the workshop of the cabinet maker who is responsible for replicating the original floor and I got to see the "mock-up" floor that will be used as a model for the replica floor. It will be stunning when completed. I hope to accompany the Bosses to the site so I can see the project and hopefully help with it.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Erin!
Sounds like you are doing some REALLY cool stuff - I'm so excited for you!! When is your first day off so you can go explore?
We miss you back here in cold, snowy Lex - but glad you're experiencing such a great opportunity!!
Turbo and Mocha miss you too!
J&G

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Erin--This is a really informative entry--gives me a better idea of what-in-the-world you're doing, and I'm your own Father!!!!!!!!!!

5:37 PM  

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