Theses Master's

The Historic American Buildings Survey and Interpretive Drawing: Using Digital Tools to Facilitate Comprehensive Heritage Documentation

Bopp, Susan Marie

The Historic American Building Survey (HABS), a federal New Deal program largely unchanged since its inception in 1933, is the nation’s largest archive of historic architectural documentation. Surveys include three sections that describe a historical building and/ or site: written historical research, measured drawings, and black and white photography. Today, nearly 40,000 records exist in the Library of Congress, providing copyright free public access in both digital and hard copy format. This thesis focuses on the drawing portion of a HABS survey; specifically investigating the nature and usefulness of the types of drawings allowed by the current drawing guidelines and standards and how contemporary digital tools can facilitate drawing production and analysis. While the current HABS standards call for a strict method of researched and measured documentation, within that methodology exists a diverse range of drawing types that accurately express the desired information but are not all necessarily utilized in practice. In an attempt to rejoin contemporary practice of architectural drawing within the limits of the Drawing Guidelines for HABS, this thesis will investigate the Interpretive Drawing clause within the Guidelines and how these interpretive drawings can reunite a new generation of architects with the federal program for documenting historic structures. By analyzing HABS’s history and its sister programs, which include the Historic American Engineering Record and the Historic American Landscape Survey, analyzing drawing theory, and critiquing current practices in drawing (both in the HABS world and in contemporary architectural practice), this thesis will ultimately synthesize those analyses by putting to practice different techniques for producing interpretive drawings in the form of case studies.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Freeman, Belmont
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
September 17, 2014