Track 4: This New World: Preservation technology and emerging issues within our historic buildings and built landscapes

General Abstract

From Practice to Product: Leveraging complex and seemingly disparate data at the Nebraska State Capitol to develop a multi-platform survey application and how it was brought to market

Monday, September 24
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: BNCC-106BC

The Nebraska State Capitol, designed by Bertram Goodhue, is internationally significant as an example of the harmony of art, landscape design, and civic architecture. The Capitol is undergoing an eight-year phased interior restoration and HVAC improvement project. It includes a detailed survey of all 1,365 rooms and 1,191 windows and designing solutions for each, to conserve the historic fabric of the building. The scale and multiplicity of solutions for this project necessitated a different approach to the collection, coordination, and design of solutions.

The process began by looking for solutions within the architectural industry. No single product was found to solve the problems at hand, so a new approach was taken by looking to the tech industry and how they work. Open-source development is at the core of nearly all new technology. These are collections of code that execute specific tasks and are kept inherently general so they can be as adaptable as possible. These libraries are free for anyone to use. They are developed by thousands of people contributing lines of code in an organized manner to improve its purpose. The benefit: instead of recreating the wheel each time a new piece of software is built, these libraries can be plugged into a product to perform their specific task.

The team leveraged these Open-source libraries to quickly build a solution that solved the problem. However, broadening this solution could solve a much more common problem in architecture: organizing unorganized data. The result is a multi-platform application which provides the ability to layer contextual data on top of BIM models. Specifically, it allows the team to collect information in the field tying it to specific model elements in real time. Using tablets, users are able to tag rooms, windows, and other elements with specific materiality, imagery, text, notes, tasks, dimensions, and more. In the BIM model, the team has instant access to this information via an in-model dashboard as the user navigates through the model. Not only does this dashboard allow users to view and edit data that was collected, but the team can also add tasks and communicate with messaging in context of specific elements (rooms, windows, etc.). This makes tracking progress and design of each of these solutions much easier to coordinate.

The presentation will focus on the process of taking this tool from practice to product. It will discuss how partnering with other firms and universities proved invaluable in creating a useful product, beyond the initial problem. It will demonstrate its use in historic preservation, and how Open-source is not only useful in developing tools like this one, but can become a model for how architects can begin to work and collaborate as an industry.

Learning Objectives:

Zach Soflin, Registered Architect

BVH Architecture

Zach is a licensed architect at BVH Architecture. With seven years of experience, he has developed a special interest in computational applied design and research. His work includes projects of various sizes, applying divergent design solutions anchored in research and data-driven analysis. Zach’s desire for knowledge and collective exploration has positioned him as a thought leader within BVH, co-leading the initiative.

Recent Projects:
-State of Nebraska Statewide Historic Building Survey
-Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Gateway Arch HSR
-Nebraska State Capitol Restoration
-Fort Smith National Historic Site HSR
-Fort Atkinson State Historical Park Restoration
-Thesis on Data Driven Architecture
-Layer Platform


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Elisabeth Bakker Johnson

Elisabeth Bakker Johnson is an Associate Project Coordinator for the New York State University Construction Fund. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Math and Computer Science from Roberts Wesleyan College, a Masters of Architecture from SUNY Buffalo and a Masters of Science in Building Conservation from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. With over 26 years of New York state service, Elisabeth has extensive experience in facilities management and within all phases of the design and construction industry, where she has worked alongside the Capitol Architect and in many other capacities on dozens of projects, most notably the 49-million-dollar Phase 4 New York State Capitol roof and skylight replacement project. She also has several years’ experience working at the New York State Historic Preservation Office and as an Historic Preservation Restoration Coordinator helping to facilitate restoration projects among the state-owned historic sites’ inventory in New York’s Capital District.

Elisabeth has published several articles, some of which can be found in the Encyclopedia of 20th-Century Architecture, where she has five entries related to historic Dutch architecture. As one of the founding Board members of APTNE, a former APTNE Vice President, and as a licensed architect, she continues to champion her longtime passions of architecture and historic preservation through her commitment to several preservation organizations and through any other capacity where she can make a difference.


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From Practice to Product: Leveraging complex and seemingly disparate data at the Nebraska State Capitol to develop a multi-platform survey application and how it was brought to market

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