Academic journal article Change Over Time

TERRESTRIAL LASER SCANNING: Imaging, Quantifying, and Monitoring Microscale Surface Deterioration of Stone at Heritage Sites

Academic journal article Change Over Time

TERRESTRIAL LASER SCANNING: Imaging, Quantifying, and Monitoring Microscale Surface Deterioration of Stone at Heritage Sites

Article excerpt

Preserving the built environment functions to define regional, national, and cultural identities while also stimulating local economic activity.1 As a result, governmental agencies, intergovernmental organizations, and advocacy groups promote the preservation of historic structures and landscapes. Documenting heritage sites is essential to this process because it provides "the basis for the monitoring, management and routine maintenance of a site and provides a way to transmit knowledge about heritage places to future generations."2 While documentation programs have long been established in many countries, its value was formally recognized by the international heritage community at the First International Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments that was held in Athens in 1931.3 Subsequent charters, such as the ICOMOS Venice Charter and the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter, solidified the global commitment to recording the built environment.4

Since then, the breadth of dialogue related to applications and methods of documentation has expanded its role within the heritage field, and numerous organizations, initiatives, and conferences are devoted to its advancement.5 Documentation is now used to provide information on the form, condition, chronological relationships, function, and dating of heritage resources while also broadening "the experience of our cultural heritage" when used for conservation, policy development, planning, information management, and heritage awareness.6 Since World War II the heritage field has also become involved in monitoring and risk management, using documentation as a planning and mitigation tool when faced with loss from climate change, natural disasters, and massive destruction caused through acts of war.7

This dialogue has naturally produced many related standards and principles, guiding the direction of documentation within preservation programs while also controlling the quality of recorded information. The broad scope of early guidelines allowed for their flexible application to various projects and sites. Yet as the heritage field continued to develop and respond to changes in professional practice, more specific standards were ultimately necessary. The focus of preservation now extends beyond static, architecturally, and historically significant buildings to include a more dynamic and complex stewardship of the built environment. This expanded scope demands that documentation methods capture more diverse subjects in increasingly variable (and challenging) contexts. As one example, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) program was established in 1933 "to document America's architectural heritage."8 When the significance of both engineered structures and cultural landscapes was finally recognized, the U.S. government responded by establishing the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) in 1969 and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) in 2000.9 Each program brought new requirements and standards for evaluation and recordation.

The incorporation of technology and digital media into contemporary professional practice also requires amending documentation standards to define best practices for their use and application. This is particularly true for tools that appear to be panaceas for timeconsuming documentation projects. Organizations including English Heritage, the Getty Conservation Institute, and many others have released publications describing their use of newer recording technology in the service of conservation, including 3D laser scanning systems.10 These publications describe principles and applications for using such tools, guiding and communicating best practices to practitioners and clients. When evaluated collectively, they also reveal the evolution of emergent technologies and their adoption by heritage professionals, providing opportunities to examine the general trajectory of documentation within the heritage field. Peter Leach's 1988 guide to surveying describes older metric survey tools, such as plumb bobs, to measure displacement while the Getty Conservation Institute's 2007 publication, Recording, Documentation, and Information Management for the Conservation of Heritage Places, discusses the use of complex digital data collection systems to monitor displacement in real time. …

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