Impressions from APTI Buffalo by Rebecca Domingue

Thursday, December 13, 2018 2:46 PM | Anonymous

Rebecca Domingue, one of this year's recipients of APT DC's Emerging Professionals Sponsorships, attended the 2018 APTI Conference in Buffalo, New York. The following is her summary of the conference.

The 2018 Association for Preservation Technology International conference in Buffalo, New York offered a unique educational and cultural experience. The conference officially kicked off with the all-conference keynote on Sunday September 23rd. Set in the Ashbury Hall of Babeville (Figure 1) the conference was off to a great start.

Figure 1: Ashbury Hall served as the location of the Opening Keynote, located in Babeville, a 19th century gothic revival style church structure repurposed into an event space

The keynote speaker, Alex Wilson, focused his presentation on resilience. He spoke about ways existing buildings could be modified, or new buildings constructed, to better withstand the changing environment. This theme of resilience was then continued throughout the rest of conference. In many cases the theme emerged in the case studies of buildings that were abandoned, and in some cases on the verge of demolition, and how they were revitalized through preservation efforts.

The morning after the keynote my coworker, Nicole Ferran, and I presented a case study that closely followed the theme of the night before. Hoen, an industrial complex in Baltimore, Maryland has sat abandoned since the early 1980s. Our case study discussed the balance between preservation approaches and the importance of inhabitation. Work included both repair and localized reconstruction. The finished product preserves the rich history of the complex and will serve as a focal point of the revitalization of the East Baltimore neighborhood. Hoen has demonstrated resilient behavior- the complex had been over run and heavily damaged by nature, but the strength of the original construction persevered.

The paper sessions I attended were captivating; enriching and broadening my insight into preservation techniques and practices. The case studies presented in Track 1 “Decline vs. Revival: Tempering the Impulse to Tear Down and Start Over” drew my attention and continued with the overall theme of resilience. One session, “Innovated or Unusual Reuse” described deconstruction and monitored collapse as two different approaches to preservation. Both were intriguing new ideas I had never considered before. The same paper session introduced me to, a website that catalogs the deconstruction processes of Baltimore, Maryland’s abandoned buildings.

In addition to paper sessions I attended the Preservation Engineering Technical Committee (PETC) Meeting. The PETC meeting offered me the opportunity to meet and connect with other professionals who share similar interests to my own from all over the world. The enthusiasm of this group of people encouraged me to become more involved and as a result I volunteered to help organize the 2019 Student Design Competition to be held at the Miami conference.

Buffalo thrived in the early 20th century as a key industrial American city and has an impressive architectural history as a result. With buildings and landscapes designed by some of America’s most well-known architects and designers, including H.H. Richardson (Figure 2), Louis Sullivan (Figure 3), Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Upjohn (Figure 4) and Frederick Olmsted. 

Figure 2: Originally a mental hospital, this heavy stone Richardson building was renovated recently into a boutique hotel.


Figure 3: Louis Sullivan's Guaranty Building in downtown Buffalo, NY.


Figure 4: Upjohn’s gothic revival style church in downtown Buffalo. The exterior is impressive but the interior is absolutely breathtaking! 

Outside of scheduled conference activities, I had the opportunity to explore the city and experience these magnificent constructions. Within a few blocks of the conference hotel sat some of the most stunning early 20th century buildings. The beauty, history and culture of Buffalo surpassed all expectations and was an exceptional city to host the 50th A
PTI conference.

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