Tag Archives: research

Battle Hall Conservation Study

 

Sample_Izabella and Sarah
GRA’s Izabella Dennis (left) and Sarah Hunter (right)

The Battle Hall Architecture and Planning Library at the University of Texas at Austin was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in 1911, setting the stylistic tone for future academic architecture and shaping the distinguished Texas university campus. In preparation for a preservation and improvement campaign of the University of Texas’ first architectural masterpiece and its later extension, West Mall Building, a Facilities Condition Report was produced by an outside consultant in 2011 to identify measures to restore the building. Several building elements required further investigation to determine original finishes, best methods for cleaning and treating historic materials, and recommendations for restoration. The UT Office for Campus Planning and Facilities Management provided support and funding for the remaining studies to be carried out through the UT Architectural Conservation Lab under the supervision of Senior Lecturer and Conservation Scientist Frances Gale.

Masonry Testing in the UTSOA Architectural Conservation Lab
Masonry Testing in the UTSOA Architectural Conservation Lab
Marble Cleaning
Marble Cleaning Tests on the Battle Hall Staircase

Graduate Research Assistants Izabella Z. Dennis and Sarah B. Hunter from the UT School of Architecture Historic Preservation program had the opportunity to participate in this materials conservation study. The work included laboratory analysis of finish samples from ornamental metals, exterior wood building components, the interior wood reading room ceiling and interior plaster finishes. Cleaning tests were performed on interior marble, and protective treatments were evaluated for the exterior limestone veneer. The study involved archival research of the original construction documents and subsequent renovations of Battle Hall, on-site condition assessments and sample collection, and both laboratory and on-site testing. Based on the findings, recommendations were made to help restore original finishes to metal, wood and plaster elements of Battle Hall during its proposed renovation.

Finish Sample Statigraphy
Finish Sample Statigraphy

After documenting original finishes, including linseed oil paints and lead pigments, practical recommendations were developed using contemporary materials. This project involved close collaboration with Facilities Services in accessing hard-to-reach building components, conducting interior marble cleaning tests and exploring practical preservation solutions.

Feature Friday: OnArchitecture Database

We are so excited to announce – and subsequently feature – our recent subscription to OnArchitecture, an online audiovisual database that functions as an artistic archive exclusively for professional and educational institutions around the world. OnArchitecture contains original material focusing on key individuals, buildings, and installations in contemporary architecture, and highlights them through interviews, documents, audiovisuals, and more. In their own words, this database provides “a synthetic, deep and detailed panorama of the world’s main authors, works, experiences and problematics related to the field of architecture.

OnArchitecture boasts an extensive catalog of buildings and installations, including influential works like the Sendai Mediatheque by Toyo Ito; Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, India by Le Corbusier; and Ai Weiwei’s Fake Design. The catalog is presented clearly and cleanly, meaning that it’s exceptionally easy to maneuver through and explore. The main page for each work features a brief video, a summary of the work, additional documents, and – my personal favorite – a suggested bibliography of additional information on the building or piece. I love this setup, as the page serves as a key introduction to the main aspects of a work of art, and then both encourages and facilitates additional research. As a student, I cannot even begin to express how handy this is!

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this database is its extensive collection of video interviews with various influential artists, architects, and curators from all over the world. These interviews candidly cull out the critical reivew of works from the artists themselves. So often in research we are presented with an interpretation of a building or piece through a secondary observer or scholarly source; while vital, these interviews reveal the fundamental process behind a piece that can only be expressed through the mind of its creator. Think of this portion of the database as a collection of TED talks for artists and designers. And, as you can see in the screen grab below, you can travel the world in just one sitting!

I cannot express enough how thrilled I am that the Architecture & Planning Library has invested in this inimitable database. I am already certain that this will serve as a key source for research when my studies resume in fall, and I’ve already watched several interviews out of pure interest and fascination. Follow the link below to start exploring yourself!

OnArchitecture – access this database

Feature Friday: Music in Architecture — Architecture in Music

Today’s Feature Friday doesn’t stray far from home. In fact, we travel all the way to Battle Hall’s first floor to the Center of American Architecture and Design (CAAD) to remind all of you that their incredible Center books exist. More specifically, their most recent publication: Center 18: Music in Architecture — Architecture in Music.

I personally am drawn to the focus of this palindromic-titled publication because I am always interested in reading pieces that explore the influences that are woven into architectural practice. This is something that continually fascinates me about architecture and environmental design in general: so many multidisciplinary topics and professions, some that may seem totally unrelated at the surface level, are used as inspiration for or deeply influence design decisions. Also, music is an integral part of my life; I fall deeply in love with songs to a point where they become the literal soundtrack to my life, and listening to specific songs has the power to vividly place me into a specific place or point in my life (as I’m sure is true for most of you reading this). I also find myself utilizing songs as direct design inspiration for my own projects, envisioning what genre of music would play in a restaurant, retail store, public plaza, and the like. Each essay in Center 18 reminds me of the power that music has on our lives — in ways I haven’t previously thought possible.

For example, yesterday on the bus to one of my summer classes I read the essay titled “Louis Sullivan, J.S. Dwight, and Wagnerian Aesthetics in the Chicago Auditorium Building” by Stephen Thursby. I have been reading through Center 18 haphazardly, selecting essays based on what topics I’m initially drawn to. This piece immediately caught my interest, as I have a deep love for Chicago and am spending a lot of my summer with the writings of Louis Sullivan (he’s on my summer reading list, after all!). This piece left me in awe after bringing to light the influences of nature, poetry, and the work of composer Richard Wagner in Sullivan and Adler’s design for the Auditorium’s theatre. With Andrew Bird’s new album I Want to See Pulaski at Night filling my ears with beautifully arranged strings and melodies whilst I read, I felt an overwhelming understanding of the sheer power of music on not only life itself, but how it can challenge people to live their lives better.

Now, some of you may be thinking, “Steph, what the heck? You go to school here; you should have known of the greatness of these publications. They’re always one of the top headlines on the UTSOA website and their exhibitions are held IN THE BUILDINGS YOU STUDY IN.” I know, I know — but as a graduate student about to celebrate my first anniversary of moving to Austin, I’m still uncovering the myriad opportunities and elements that make our School of Architecture such an engaging and inspiring place to learn. This takes time; I see it as an exploratory journey that affords me the ability to be pleasantly reminded, time and time again, by how lucky I am to be earning my degree from a School that prides itself on academic research and educational pursuits that bring multiple disciplines together.

Center 18 is now available for check out in the Architecture & Planning Library. I’ve already checked one out for myself, but I promise there’s more! All of CAAD’s publications are also available for purchase through the UT website or Amazon if you prefer to have a copy of your own (I’m saving up for mine!).

Call Number: 2542.35 C467 V.18 2014

This week’s #FeatureFriday was suggested by Martha Gonzalez Palacios but enthusiastically selected by Stephanie Phillips. I emphasize enthusiastically because I probably concerned Martha a bit over my excitement to dive into this book when she brought it to my attention. Sorry, Martha. 

Upcoming Event: Nature in Balance

Join us on Wednesday, April 2nd for this great Research + Pizza event! Research + Pizza is a lunchtime lecture series featuring research presentations by faculty from across the university.

Here’s the overview:

What: Research + Pizza: Dr. Damon Waitt talks about native Texas plants and invasive species. This event is free and open to the public!

When: Noon, Wednesday, April 2.

Where: Perry-Castañeda Library, UFCU Student Learning Commons (PCL 2.500), The University of Texas at Austin.

Just in time for the spring riot of color that is wildflower season, Dr. Damon Waitt, Senior Director and Botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, discusses his efforts helping to maintain an ecological balance between native plants and invasive species in the Texas wild.

Waitt is responsible for developing the 279 acres of gardens and natural areas at the Wildflower Center, and is the author of the Center’s Native Plant Information Network — the largest online database about native plants in North America. He also serves as the principal investigator on several projects related to the Wildflower Center’s Pulling Together Invasive Species Initiative and is a member of the Invasive Species Advisory Committee for the National Invasive Species Council.

The program will also include a plant ID session, so interested participants can send pictures of mystery vegetation to roxanne.bogucka@austin.utexas.edu for identification by Waitt during the program.

BONUS: Free Pizza (while it lasts) from Austin Pizza — we hope to see you there!

Inside Modern Texas: Behind the Scenes with Emily Ardoin

Last semester, Graduate Research Assistant Emily Ardoin, a Masters candidate in Historic Preservation within the School of Architecture, introduced us to her process behind developing a curated exhibit – from scratch! Very few have this incredibly unique and rewarding opportunity, and, needless to say, those of us in the library were beyond thrilled for her. As the Society of Architectural Historians Conference swiftly approaches, which coincides with the official opening reception of the exhibition, we decided to check in with Emily and get more details from the curator herself.

To recap, Emily was tasked with developing a display for the Reading Room in Battle Hall for the Spring 2014 semester. During her brainstorming phase, she sifted through myriad issues of Interiors magazine, Texas Architect, and more journals from the Architecture and Planning Library as not only a source for inspiration, but as a gauge for what materials were available to her within the walls of Battle Hall. As most of our library users can attest to, the Architecture and Planning Library is full of information (we’re lucky to say that!), so Emily utilized her Interior Design background, current Historic Preservation studies, and a time range from World War II to approximately 1975 to help narrow her foci and eventually land on a exhibition topic that was specific enough to pin down a clear focus, yet broad enough to encapsulate a spectrum of available archival materials.

Emily also noted that The Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, held this year in Austin from April 9th-13th, could also serve as a source of inspiration for unearthing an exhibition focus. While perusing the paper topics for the upcoming conference, Emily noticed one in particular: Placing the Profession: Early Contexts for Interior Design Practice in the US. This, in conjunction with her educational studies, helped Emily land on her topic of “Inside Modern Texas: The Case For Preserving Interiors.” Says Emily of the topic:

“The idea behind it is that, as much as modern architecture is gaining momentum in historic preservation [nowadays], interiors aren’t always considered. This is also true of buildings of other periods, but with modern interiors, significant characteristics like spatial relationships or lack of ornament can be especially difficult to recognize.  And commercial interiors are a challenge. There can be more pressure to update constantly when a forward-thinking image is considered important for the success of a business.”

To articulate her thought process visually, Emily divided her exhibition into three main parts, the first being a brief overview of modern interior design and its principles. As interior designers or architectural history buffs may know, interior design was still in the process of growing into its own profession during the mid twentieth century. Emily, in the first third of her exhibition, lays out the several factors that contributed to the profession of interior design in Texas, focusing on major influences, including the contributions of the Dallas Market Center. Harwell Hamilton Harris created the drawings for the Trade Mart within the Center, which the Alexander Archive possesses – a key example of the types of resources available!

The second part of the exhibition transitions to a chronological overview of interiors, sourced from the Archive and images from the library’s journals. These sections serve as an excellent primer for the final third of Emily’s exhibition: the challenges behind preserving modern historic interiors. To articulate her thought process, emily utilizes three case study examples in Texas: The Wilson House in Temple, former home and showroom of the founder of Wilsonart Laminate Company and current house museum for the same company; the famous Inwood Theatre in Dallas, which features a 1980’s bar addition to its 1947 lobby interior; and the Austin National Bank Building, now McGarrah Jessee Advertising on East 6th Street, a key feature in Austin’s adaptive reuse scene.

By doing exhaustive research and spending her working days fawning over the Archive’s incredible depth of modern architectural drawings, photographs, prints, and more (it was one of her favorite parts!), Emily has created a beautiful and thoughtful exhibition that draws attention to a highly relevant topic in preservation: the retention of historic interiors. Says Emily:

The interior of a building is what its users interact with directly, so it can serve as an especially informative historic record. That same direct interaction can be a challenge for continued use of the building. Adaptive reuse can be a very useful and practical preservation strategy, but it can result in quite a bit of change particularly to the interior. At the same time, not every historic building can be a house museum. You have to balance those priorities. It’s an interesting problem that historic preservation principles do address already, but whether the focus should be stronger is worth considering.

Emily, in the process of her curation, has uncovered so many provocative topics that could benefit researchers in the future. She has made sure to note when specific interior designers are referenced in projects she comes across, providing them to the archive staff to help with future collection. Interior design as it is today is a relatively young profession, so archival material can be more difficult to find. Though it may not seem like it for her now, Emily’s exhibition will go far beyond its display dates of late March to September 2014 – at least in terms of its research!

We are so excited for her work to be displayed concurrently with the Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference. Please join us on April 10th for the opening reception!

Why Digital Research Matters: An Insight into Open Access

When I arrived at work on Monday, I performed tasks as usual, including monitoring our Twitter feed to promote any articles that were pertinent to the clientele that we serve here at the Architecture & Planning Library. However, with the commencement of Open Access Week 2013, I was particularly searching for commentary that reflected the importance of open access in research. That’s why when my eyes skimmed over the following 140-character headline, I couldn’t click the associated link fast enough:

Hours of research went into this one — UT is naming more buildings after donors, less after faculty than ever before: http://bit.ly/1azwbsh

The above is a feature by The Daily Texan‘s Bobby Blanchard, and one that was immediately captivating, largely because of its relevance to architecture as a viable tool for marketing and promotion.

Though the topic is certainly contentious, Bobby’s article highlights just how much information can be extracted from sources that are openly accessible to the public. I briefly messaged Bobby to see where he obtained most of his information, and he referred to the Texas Exes website and subsets of the University of Texas at Austin site. He also checked out a book from PCL – Brick by Golden Brick by Margaret C. Berry (also available in our Reference Collection here at the Architecture & Planning Library) – to piece each building together into a cohesive collection. It’s incredible that the digital connectivity in our world – a connectivity that is almost passive because of its prolific nature – can give us the ability to gather a conclusive set of information and, in turn, create a new set of data that becomes readily accessible as well.

A screen grab from Bobby’s article shows how his research was translated into a visual form of communication.

Though most of Bobby’s digital resources were not scholarly publications on an open access platform, his findings give insight into how digitally accessible information has the potential to be monumentally influential in the field of research. Bobby’s article could easily serve as an excellent base for an intensive research venture focused on how philanthropy affects college campuses across the nation, and lead into comparative studies between public and private institutions. The ability for this information to be presented in an online article that can be accessed with the click of a mouse across the world is a staggering thought, a modern-day ability that would have only existed in a dream world no more than a few decades ago.

I firmly believe that the library in its most historic form will never become obsolete. And I fully recognize the inherent credibility issues with open-access platforms, which are displayed and discussed in another article by The Daily Texan. However, the overarching goal of open access research – “the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly research” (via Wikipedia) – is one that keeps up with our fast-paced, time-restrictive, and increasingly digital world. With Bobby’s article as a student example, information that’s a click away has the potential to spur research that affects myriad disciplines across the world.

You can access Bobby’s original article here.
If you’re a Twitter-a-holic like the rest of us, you can follow Bobby at @bobbycblanchard and The Daily Texan at @thedailytexan. 

The University of Texas Libraries are only halfway through their week-long celebration of Open Access! Find out which campus events you can still attend here.

Interested in learning more about the history of the UT campus? Titles with content similar to Brick by Golden Brick include The Texas Book, The Texas Book Two, and The University of Texas at Austin: An Architectural Tour.

Interior Design Research Tools: InformeDesign

The 101 Years of Interior Design celebration at UTSOA is only a week away! To keep up with our October interior design focus here on our blog, we’ve selected InformeDesign as another research tool to showcase the importance of research in the design world.

Last week we featured IIDA’s Knowledge Center, a phenomenal tool to quickly access case studies, conference papers, theses, and more. InformeDesign is a similar format, and is also FREE!

InformeDesign, developed by the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, has a clear-stated mission statement to facilitate the integration of research and design practice through an easy-to-access, easy-to-read website. Here at the library, we think that’s an essentiality, which is why we’re so thrilled about this database!

Although the website is currently idle and unable to add new content, a wealth of previously uploaded scholarly journals are accessible. The search box is simple, and accommodates various terms and of levels of complexity. I started with a generic search in ‘sustainability’ and moved to ‘sustainable lighting’ – both with results that were both broad and specific, but all within relevancy.

When you click on a link of interest, InformeDesign offers a clear, organized, and concise page highlighting the essential elements of an article. Perhaps the most useful are the Design Criteria and Key Concepts categories, which outline the purpose of the study and the factual results. Though the results do not link you directly to an article, they give you all of the bibliographic information at the bottom if you choose to access the research in its entirety. For those that are seeking quick results with actual data and conclusive summaries, InformeDesign is perfect for you!

You can also create a free InformeDesign account to save articles and add commentary. All things considered, InformeDesign is a wonderful research tool for quick access to a staggering amount of useful design studies.

Happy researching, designers!

Upcoming Event: Open Access Week

From October 21-25, The UT Libraries are participating in the national celebration of Open Access (OA) Week. “Open Access” refers to the free, immediate, and online access to scholarly research, as well as the right to use the information as needed. OA Week was initially created to “promote Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research”, and is now in its sixth year.

The Libraries will sponsor an event each day of OA Week that reaches out to different campus communities. This is your chance to learn about Open Access and how it may affect any research you pursue!

Here’s a brief look at the daily schedule:

Monday, October 21: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon
Tuesday, October 22: Open Access Panel Discussion
Wednesday, October 23: Open Educational Resources: Past, Present, Future?
Thursday, October 24: RIP: A Remix Manifesto Movie Screening
Friday, October 25: Open Access Scholarly Publishing with Texas Digital Library

Follow UT Libraries’ blog for the most up-to-date information on this special week! A full lineup of events can be found here. All events are free, open to the public, and food and drink will be available to attendees while they last.

As OA Week approaches, we encourage you to refer to a recent editorial by The Daily Texan for more information on Open Access.

We hope to see you all at these phenomenal events next week!

Interior Design Research Tools: IIDA Knowledge Center

When sifting through the myriad resources available to designers, it’s easy to experience a legitimate information overload. Periodicals, drawings, essays, reports – encompassing style, technology, safety, products – there’s so much to uncover! However, we’ve accumulated some exceptional electronic research tools to help, and the IIDA Knowledge Center is one of them.

The International Interior Design Association‘s database does a fantastic job of concentrating a wealth of resources into one succinct and easy-to-use interface. A typical search results in access to relevant research papers, master’s theses, conference reports, specification guides, and more. Just getting started in your research? No problem – the Knowledge Center lets you filter your search by resource type, client type, or topic, which can put you on a fast track to finding the information that’s most relevant to you.

A test topic search for ‘hospitality’ results in a staggering amount of diverse resources, presented in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re falling into the electronic abyss of irrelevant hyperlinks. My favorite part about this database: the option to organize your search results by either relevance or topic. Choosing ‘topic’ creates clusters of links based on subcategories such as branding, space planning, color, and more – it’s so simple and time saving!

Regardless of how deep you are into your research for a design project, we hope the IIDA Knowledge Center can be an indispensable addition to your toolbox. Did we mention that it’s FREE?

Keep a look out – we’ll touch on some more electronic resources for designers in the upcoming weeks in honor of the 101 Years of Interior Design celebration!

Study Abroad in Oslo, Norway!

For those of you students that are considering studying abroad or are in search of the right program, a new partnership between UT and the University of Oslo in Norway has been finalized. Translation: students can spend a summer, semester, or year in Oslo and receive UT credit!

This opportunity caught our eye here at the Architecture & Planning Library due to some exciting research projects that the University of Oslo has pursued. Topics include Norwegian Architecture and Design from 1950-1970, Modern Architecture and Design, and more. We encourage you to follow the links of each topic to get a more in-depth description of each.

Interested in learning more about the programs available? An info session will be held Thursday, October 10th from 3:30-4:45pm at BUR 337. For more information, please email Peter Hess, Department Chair of Germanic Studies, at phess@austin.utexas.edu.

We hope this opportunity excites you as much as it does us!