I am an architect by training with a graduate degree in architectural conservation. I did my undergraduate studies in Athens, Greece where I grew up. Perhaps, this is why I am interested in the conservation of archaeological sites. One of the two courses I teach, "Archaeological Sites: Conservation and Maintenance," was the first graduate level course of its kind worldwide.
I have consulted on projects in the US, Mediterranean, Black Sea, and Middle East. Some of these projects are listed below. With Columbia students, I have been monitoring the War of 1812-era Blockhouse # 1 in Central Park since 1995. From 1996-98, I directed the conservation of Site 151 at Chersonesos in Crimea, Ukraine, a Hellenistic period fortified farmhouse where Columbia students learned techniques of site stabilization. I have worked on the cleaning and stabilization of Jurassic-period dinosaur footprints in Connecticut. From 1989-94, I was site conservator at the Minoan site of Palaikastro in eastern Crete. There, Building # 5’s mudbrick partitions required a temporary protective shelter which I designed. I co-organized a colloquium on the use of protective shelters at archaeological sites which took place in Arizona in January 2001 (refer to the conference proceedings in the journal Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, Volume 5, Numbers 1 & 2, 2001)".
The conservation of earthen architecture has been an area of particular interest for me. I am
currently Vice Chair of ICOMOS's International Scientific Committee on Earthen Architectural Heritage. In 1993, I performed an extensive survey in Peru to critically evaluate conservation methods for archaeological mudbricks. This lead me to look at the living tradition in the Hadhramaut region of Yemen. The result is a technical paper published in the Association for Preservation Technology’s APT Bulletin (Vol 30, No 2-3, 1999) and a video documentary on the mudbrick construction and repair technology of Hadhrami vernacular tower houses, "The Architecture of Mud." I have been working in the Hadhramaut region since 1997. My current project involves a documentation training program to record the significant mudbrick mansions of Tarim while developing a master plan for preservation and adaptive reuse of the buildings and Tarim's historic core. Columbia graduate students have been participating annually in this project since 2001. I was one of the co-organizers of the most recent meeting of mud experts, Terra 2008, 10th International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architectural Heritage, which took place in Bamako, Mali.
I also work on historic and modern structures. The other course I teach, "Cultural Site Management," covers both archaeological and historic sites. Theoretically, there are some major differences in the method of preservation, interpretation and presentation of these two types of sites. However, in both instances, without a holistic approach to site management, conservation interventions fail.
At Columbia University, I administer a one-year post graduate Certificate Program in the Conservation of Historic and Archaeological Sites. The purpose is to create an interdisciplinary approach to cultural resource management. The program includes courses from architecture, planning and preservation, as well as art history/archaeology, anthropology, geology and civil engineering. It is customized to fill the gaps in the individual student’s education and is open to candidates in related fields with a master’s degree or higher.
In New York I am partner responsibe for the Preservation Group of WASA/Studio, a large architecture and engineering firm. A few of my recently completed projects include restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, Fallingwater; restoration of the Hunterfly Road Houses, the only surviving remnant of Weeksville, the first free African-American community in Brooklyn; and re-roofing and masonry repairs to the Harvard Club. Ongoing project include the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
In 2006, I co-organized the Louis Sullivan Terra Cotta Symposium for APT NE to honor Sullivan's 150th birthday anniversary and to celebrate the completion of WASA/Studio A's restoration of the Bayard-Condict Building, Sullivan's only NYC structure. I sit on the Board of US/ICOMOS, the United States national committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. ICOMOS's is one of three statutory advisory bodies to the World Heritage Conservation. I am an Expert Member of ICOMOS's ISC20C (International Science Commitee on 20th Century Heritage) and one of the three elected coordinators to ICOMOS's Scientific Council. I am also US/ICOMOS's lialison to APTI's boaard (Association for Preservation Technology International) and I am on the Senior Advisory Board of Global Heritage Fund (GHF).
Tarim Mansions Preservation Project, Yemen A feasibility study was performed to create a documentation training program using Columbia University graduate students, architecture students from the University of the Hadhramaut, and professionals from Yemen's General Organization of Antiquities and Museums to study the mudbrick palaces of Tarim, Yemen. Scheduled for Christmas break, students document the architecture and its existing condition using both conventional means (historic research. measured CAD drawings, still photography, condition surveys and materials analysis) and new-media (video, computer animation, digital imagery and networked multimedia). The work is on a Columbia University Visual Media Center website (www.learn.columbia.edu/tarim). This exchange trains future Yemeni architects and colleagues in the significance of their built heritage while simultaneously introducing Americans to an organic and sustainable form of architecture relatively unknown to the West.
Tarim, along with Seyoun and Shibam, is one of the three major cities in the Hadhramaut Valley, an area formerly located in the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. The mudbrick palaces of Tarim are unique and exceptional examples of the fusion of imported architectural styles executed in local mudbrick construction technology. Mostly built by the Al Kaf family from the 1870s to the 1920s, the palaces show marked influence from Southeast Asian (where the family made their money) and Indian colonial forms and incorporate Mogul, Neo-Classical, Baroque, Rococo and Early Modernist styles.
For political reasons, the palaces were expropriated during the former (Marxist) regime's tenure and reused as public housing for the poor. With the unification of the two Yemens in 1992, the buildings were given back to their rightful owners who by then had dispersed to other countries, mainly Saudi Arabia and England. The palaces suffered neglect under the previous government and now, from their former owners' lack of interest to maintain these costly properties. As a result, the buildings are literally melting away. In addition, although the walled city of Shibam and Wadi Hadhramaut were designated a World Heritage Site in 1982, the region is succumbing from development pressures and the resulting incursion of concrete buildings along the paved roads and commercial districts.
From 2000-2004, the Tarimi palaces were placed on the World Monuments Fund 100 Most Endangered Sites list. At the very least, the palaces urgently require documentation. However, as documentation progresses, a conservation program will be proposed that will include a management plan for the palaces, adaptive reuse options, public visitation issues and pilot restorations of select palaces.
Prerequisite: A6318: Cultural Site Management
Blockhouse #1, New York, NY
Since the spring of 1995, students from the course, Archaeological Sites: Conservation and Management, have been monitoring Blockhouse #1 in Central Park, one of two surviving structures pre-dating the design of the park. Blockhouse #1 was hastily erected in 1814 to stop a possible invasion by the British from the north during the War of 1812. It was part of a string of fortifications along the Harlem Heights which included Fort Fish, Fort Clinton and Nutter•s Battery in Central Park, and Blockhouses # 2, 3 and 4 in Morningside Heights.
From trial excavations performed in 1995 with the assistance of the Art History and Archaeology Department, it has been interpreted that the foundations of Blockhouse #1 date back to the British occupation of Manhattan during the Revolutionary War. This interpretation was corroborated by mortar analyses performed by students in the Architectural Conservation Laboratory. Each spring, students re-evaluate the existing condition of this rubble stone structure, and make recommendations for its conservation, presentation and interpretation to the public for the Central Park Conservancy.
In January 2002, Columbia University's Anthropology department began excavating the site of Amheida in Dakhlah Oasis, located in
Upper Egypt. The site spans from pre-Dynastic to Roman eras and is
constructed mainly of mudbrick. The site spans from pre-Dynastic to Roman eras and is constructed mainly of mudbrick with highly decorated mud mureals. Columbia University's Historic Preservation department is
collaborating with the Anthropology department by recommending in situ conservation conservation, while simultaneously exposing archaeology students to the methods.
Because of the ephemeral nature of the
construction material, mudbrick archaeological sites are amongst the
most difficult to stabilize and often require the introduction of a
protective shelter. This can conflict directly with issues of
presentation and interpretation of a site to the public. Chemical
consolidants have been used with varying degrees of success and graduate
students have been researching consolidants for earthen construction materials at the Architectural Conservation Laboratory over
Governors Island, New York, NY
From1998-2000, students in the course, Cultural Site Management, proposed various aspects of a management plan for Governors Island for
the Regional Plan Association. Governors Island, most recently a Coast
Guard base, has had a long history of military use which restricted
access for centuries. The Coast Guard has now left the island and it is
being opened to the public for the first time in a joint venture
between New York City and New York State.
Situated between the southern
tip of Manhattan and Brooklyn, this prime piece of real estate is under
tremendous development pressure. Along with being inscribed on the
National Register, the island boasts several individually designated
landmarks as well as a NYC historic district. The National Park Service
will be given ownership of Castle Williams and Fort Jay, two of the
individually designated structures. Students perform research on the
history of the island, resulting in drafts of a Statement of
Significance, and then propose specific aspects of the management plan,
for instance, tourism management.
Site 151, Chersonesos, Crimea, Ukraine
From 1996-98, select graduate students of Archaeological Sites: Conservation and Maintenance worked side-by-side with University of Texas at Austin•s archaeology, preservation and architecture students, as well as local Ukrainian and Russian students to conserve Site 151. The site is part of Chersonesos, a Hellenistic period colony on the Black Sea. Site 151 is a fortified farmhouse dating to the late 4th century BC. Its central feature is a tower built of limestone ashlar blocks and surrounded by rubble stone outbuildings enclosed by a perimeter wall.
Site 151 was excavated by the University of Texas at Austin and the Chersonesos of Tauride National Preserve from 1995-96. The main issues for its conservation included the original use of mud mortar as a cementing material exacerbated by the incompleteness of the walls and lack of a roof, uncontrolled drainage, and the rapid overgrowth of weeds. Walls were capped with a hydraulic lime grout formulated in the Architectural Conservation Laboratory and pointed with a cement-modified lime-based mortar. Drainage around the perimeter was re-routed and a protective berm established uphill of the site from the remains of the spoil heap. A program of regular hand de-weeding was also established.
From 1998-2000, students participating in Archaeological Sites:
Conservation and Maintenance were competitively selected to work
with the Department of Classics of the University of Georgia on the
ancient Roman site of Carthage. Students work under the supervision of
conservator Tom Roby alongside their colleagues selected from New York
University's Institute of Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania.
Conservation work has included tombs, mosaics and wall
Cosa, Tuscany, Italy
From 1995-99, select students participating in Archaeological Sites:
Conservation and Maintenance interned on the American Academy in Rome's
archaeological site of Cosa in Tuscany. Students worked under the
supervision of Tom Roby to conserve wall fragments, mosaics and wall
paintings from the Roman period in this coastal town.