Historic preservation is sometimes thought of as a specialty within the practice of architecture, but it is more truthfully understood when it is thought of as just the practice of architecture. To be sure there are some factual areas of special knowledge that the average practitioner will not encounter but for the most part preservation practice is just architectural practice. This became more obvious to the students in Robert Warden’s ARCH 607 & 648 classes Fall 2010, as they explored topics of construction systems, materials, diagnostics techniques, historical precedents, ethics and human culture.

The classes had opportunities to engage in professional projects with real questions in need of real solutions. They worked with the conservator at the Alamo and Sparks Engineering on preservation issues considered most important to the lasting health of the Alamo. Some of these issues concerned cleaning, efflorescence, mortar analysis, water penetration, site drainage, historical interpretation, structure and roof issues.

The CHC is now working with the State of Texas scanning and recording imaging data with sophisticated equipment that yields highly-detailed 2- and 3-D models when it’s entered into computer-aided design software. The database will help Pam Rosser, the Alamo’s conservator, keep track of preservation work and maintenance issues at the San Antonio site. These models will also be useful in future studies, such as the Alamo’s erosion from rainwater and the effects on the structure from heat and cold.

Students and faculty from Texas A&M University-Kingsville, the University of Texas and the University of Texas at San Antonio are also involved in this project, which is being funded by the Texas General Land Office.