Track 1: Decline vs. Revival: Tempering the Impulse to Tear Down and Start Over

General Abstract

The Museu Paulista of the University of São Paulo: recovering a monument-building

Wednesday, September 26
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: HYATT-Grand B

The building that houses the Museu Paulista of the University of São Paulo, built between 1885 and 1894 as a monument to celebrate the Independence of Brazil, has undergone a series of interventions over the years. However, the lack of a careful look at the distinction of the construction, the iconic characteristics of traditional masonry technique and the nature of the materials in the building’s structure led to its current fragility. In addition to the interventions that occurred in isolation, without considering the building as a whole or even its surroundings, there was no attempt to establish criteria regarding the planning and operation of these interventions.
In the last surveys and technical reports elaborated by professionals contracted by the University of São Paulo, several problems were verified, especially regarding the infiltration of water in the roof, walls and linings, structurally compromising its correct performance. Another issue brought by the recent diagnoses is the plastic paint applied on the exterior facades of the Museum, which poses as a barrier to the evaporation of the building's natural moisture, since its foundations are not waterproofed. In addition, to allow the use of the basement pavement for exhibition use of the Museum, which was not foreseen in its construction, some of the load distribution arches were cut, which may have contributed to the appearance of deformations in the building. Other issues, such as the lack of conservation criteria, maintenance and control of vegetation around the building, are addressed in the technical reports produced from 2013 onwards.
In August of 2013, as a way to avoid greater damages, the Museum was closed to the public so that studies and analyzes could be carried out, such as structural diagnosis and laser scanning survey, as a way of understanding the particularities of the building and how best to treat it. In addition to that, in 2017 a design competition was promoted by the University for the modernization of the Museum, with expansion of its area, so that it will be open to the public again in 2022, commemorative date of the Bicentenary of the Independence of Brazil.
The presentation has as its central theme a critical analysis of documental procedures, surveys, diagnosis and designs carried out for the Museu Paulista building. The comparison of the techniques and procedures already adopted, as well as the results obtained, is important for understanding the effectiveness of these methods, their contributions and limits, with the greater objective of preserving the built heritage. Moreover, as a critical process, the analysis aims to provide inputs for historiography, from questioning the procedures adopted over the years and the current winning project for the modernization and adaptation to contemporary needs.

Learning Objectives:

Renata C. Campiotto

School of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo (FAU-USP)

Architect and urbanist graduated from the School of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo in 2015. Renata has worked as researcher in the elaboration of the Conservation Management Plan for the Vilanova Artigas Building, a research project funded by the Getty Foundation through the Keeping It Modern program. She has previous experience in research of the built heritage and she was an intern in a company specialized in preservation of cultural heritage in São Paulo, Brazil.


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Elizabeth Corbin Murphy

Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, FAIA is an accomplished architect dedicated to preservation and restoration technology and design. She consults with building owners and architects regarding state and federal rehabilitation tax credits, design related to old or historic structures, detailed restoration specifications, historic interiors and design guidelines for historic urban centers. Elizabeth’s firm, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Historical Architecture, merged with Cleveland-based Perspectus Architecture in 2016. Now one of the largest architecture firms in Ohio, the combined practice offers complementary strengths in Architectural Design and Historical Architecture.

Elizabeth is the 2012 recipient of the AIA Ohio Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed on an individual architect. She is past chair of the Advisory Group for the American Institute of Architects National Committee on Historic Resources and a Professional Peer for the GSA Design Excellence and First Impressions Programs. She has served on several design awards juries and is immediate past president of AIA Ohio. Additionally, Elizabeth is a Professor of Practice at Kent State University’s College of Architecture& Environmental Design, currently teaching a course on the Historic American Building Survey. She was honored with the 2016 Woman of the Year Award for Integrity by the Summit County Historical Society and the Woman’s History Project in Akron, Ohio.


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The Museu Paulista of the University of São Paulo: recovering a monument-building

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