SBTHP and Getty Conservation Institute Continue Information Exchange

by Mike Imwalle

SBTHP Restoration Specialist Eduardo Vallin Garcia and SBTHP Archaeologist Mike Imwalle patching the adobe wall of the circa 1860 Montano Store in September 1993 in Lincoln, New Mexico. Photo by Ken Ruiz.

My first exposure to the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) was at an adobe workshop in Lincoln, New Mexico in September 1993. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Getty Conservation Institute and New Mexico State Monuments. Reconstruction Supervisor Ken Ruiz, Maintenance Supervisor Ray Straw, and Restoration Specialist Eduardo Vallin Garcia attended the workshop, which featured hands-on work with adobe materials as well as theoretical approaches to adobe conservation technology. During the five-day program attendees patched and re-plastered the circa 1860 Montano Store.

Civil/Structural Engineer Fred Webster describing seismic retrofit techniques at the Getty Seismic Adobe Project Workshop in 2006 at Rancho Camulos Adobe in Piru, California. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

In the Spring of 2006 I worked with Getty Conservation Institute Research Associate Gail Ostergren regarding an upcoming colloquium on the Getty Seismic Adobe Project. Gail was interested in a special tour of conservation work then underway to stabilize the adobe walls of El Cuartel and the results of the seismic retrofit and restoration of Casa de la Guerra. Later that summer I was fortunate to attend a two-day Seismic Adobe Project Symposium and Workshop entitled “New Concepts in Seismic Strengthening of Historic Adobe Structures.” The Symposium at the Getty Center in Los Angeles featured presentations from participants in the Getty Seismic Adobe Project. The following day a workshop was held at the Rancho Camulos Adobe in Piru, California. The program was sponsored by the Getty Conservation Institute, the California Preservation Foundation, the California State Office of Historic Preservation, and US/ICOMOS.

Anne Petersen, Francoise Descamps, Mohamed Boussalh, Jeffrey Cody, and Poornima Balakrishnan at El Cuartel, El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP. Photo by M. Imwalle.

In early February of this year I was contacted by the Getty again to see if we could provide a tour for Getty Research Associates with the Earthen Architecture Initiative and visiting Moroccan colleagues who work in the management of earthen heritage sites. On February 24, 2012 Associate Director for Historical Resources Anne Petersen and I met with Getty Conservation Institute Senior Project Specialists Francoise Descamps and Jeffrey Cody,  Earthen Architecture Initiative graduate intern Poornima Balakrishnan, and Mohamed Boussalh, Directeur du Centre de Conservation et de Réhabilation du Patrimoine Architectural des zones atlasiques et subatlasiques (CERKAS- Centre for the Conservation and rehabilitation of architectural heritage in the atlas and sub-atlas regions, a regional office) for a focused tour of the presidio area. Their interest was in site management, interpretation, and conservation.

Mr. Boussalh graduated with a degree in anthropology from the Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine de Rabat. He joined Cerkas as deputy conservator in charge of the historic and socio-ethnographic investigation in the field of stone and earthen vernacular architecture in the Atlas and in the pre-saharian Moroccan regions. He is visiting the GCI to discuss and develop the project for the integrated conservation of the Kasbah and Ksar of Taourir, (Ouarzazate), a national monument and traditional earthen architecture site dated to the year 16 A.D.  The site is strategically located at the intersection of the Draá and Dadès valleys. It is a symbol of Berber culture composed of different earthen buildings with outstanding architectural features.

Despite needing Francoise and Jeffrey to translate most of the tour into French for Mr. Boussalh, we had numerous discussions about the challenges presented to the stewards of earthen monuments in urban environments, a condition that both the Santa Barbara Presidio and the Kasbah share.

Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

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