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Survey & Documentation: Pixels, Clouds, Points, and Beyond

Preservation has benefitted recently from advances in data collection technology, and new tools are being used to evaluate and document our built heritage at breakneck speed. Drones, Laser Scanners, Virtual Reality, and Photogrammetry have enabled practitioners to more effectively document existing building conditions.

At the same time, the preservation practice relies on the time-tested value of large format photography, measured drawings, and ‘boots-on-the-ground’ field collection techniques that have stood the test of time and remain as valued components of any project.

Survey work is also benefitting from advances in technology, including the landmark multi-year SurveyLA effort. Professionals for the field survey side will discuss the benefits, costs, and ins and outs of field survey methods and tools.

Topics with case studies include:

Session 1: “Get to the Point!”: An Overview of Building Data Collection Techniques

  • The why and how of data collection and its utility for owners, developers, and other end-users
  • A brief look at laser scans, drones and Gigapan photography

Session 2: A HABS/HALS Guide to Field Documentation – Experts’ Overview

  • Sketching, Photography, and Measured Drawings
  • Techniques to increase efficient data collection
  • Techniques for Landscape Documentation

Session 3: Large-scale and Thematic Survey Work – Techniques from the Pros

  • Windshield surveys and using technology in the field for data collection
  • Techniques and templates – tools used by the surveyors both in and out of the field.
  • Using publicly available and other low-cost tools for data collection or management
  • SurveyLA / Arches

Speakers Include

Alan White, Principal, AQYER. Alan is a founding partner at AQYER, LLC in Los Angeles, CA. His company specializes in non-destructive evaluation, comprising historic preservation, field data collection, analysis, interpretation and delivery of 2D and 3D documentation. Alan's 20 years of preservation experience ranges from hands-on restoration of medieval properties in the UK to his current role deploying emerging technology for the non-destructive evaluation and measured survey of existing structures. Alan brings a broad network of professionals and unique project experience to WCAPT. With a unique insight to preservation technology, Alan delivers an enthusiastic approach to educating members of the architecture, engineering and construction community.

Ken Bernstein, Principal City Planner and Manager, Office of Historic Resources, Los Angeles. Mr. Bernstein serves as Manager of the City’s Office of Historic Resources, where he directs Los Angeles’ historic preservation policies. He serves as lead staff member for the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission, has overseen the completion of SurveyLA, a multi-year citywide survey of historic resources with significant support from the J. Paul Getty Trust, and is working to create a comprehensive historic preservation program for Los Angeles. He also oversees the department’s long-range citywide policy planning initiatives, including the department’s comprehensive update of its General Plan, “OurLA2040,” housing policy, and transportation planning.

He previously served for eight years as Director of Preservation Issues for the Los Angeles Conservancy, the largest local non-profit historic preservation organization in the country, where he directed the Conservancy’s public policy and advocacy activities. He also served as Planning and Transportation Deputy to Los Angeles City Councilmember Laura Chick and as Editor of The Planning Report, a monthly publication on urban planning, housing, and transportation issues in Southern California.

Ken has been an adjunct professor in the Urban Studies and Planning Department of California State University, Northridge (CSUN), teaching a course on urban planning for the public sector. He currently serves as a Senior Fellow for UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. He has a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University.

Christine Madrid French, Director of Development and Marketing, California Preservation Foundation, manages CPFs communications and fundraising efforts to increase support and engagement from CPF’s existing stakeholders and new prospects. She also focuses on developing corporate relationships and promoting the benefits of membership in CPF. She earned a Master of Architectural History from the University of Virginia, and a B.S. degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Utah. She is a noted preservationist known for her advocacy projects with the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A native Los Angeleno, Chris is based in our Southern California office. For a full listing of papers and projects, visit her website at

MorrisHyltonMorris Hylton III, Director, Historic Preservation Program at University of Florida. Mr. Hylton is Director of Historic Preservation and Associate Scholar at the University of Florida's College of Design, Construction and Planning where his research focuses on community engagement, 3D imaging technology, and preserving heritage sites of the recent past, particularly postwar modern architecture and resources. As part of his duties at University of Florida, Marty oversees the Center for World Heritage Research and Stewardship and its Envision Heritage initiative dedicated to exploring how new and emerging technologies can be harnessed to help document, conserve and interpret historic places. He also directs the University of Florida’s Preservation Institute Nantucket, the nation’s oldest, hands-on field school dedicated to historic preservation, and its sister program, the Preservation Institute St. Augustine.

Robert Arzola, HABS Architect and Holland Prize Coordinator Heritage Documentation Programs, HABS, National Park Service

You Will Be Able To:

  1. Identify the most common tools used for survey and documentation used by professionals.
  2. Understand the ins and outs of various survey and documentation methods.
  3. Weigh the benefits and pitfalls of new technologies, including drones, laser scanners, cloud computing and databases, geolocation methods, and more.
  4. Use the latest and best practices in survey and documentation for heritage buildings and landscapes.