The Hub High tech heritage: Documentation and condition assessment workshop

High tech heritage: Documentation and condition assessment workshop

Athabasca University (AU) learners had the opportunity this summer to take part in a week-long heritage resource management workshop, studying some of Alberta’s oldest heritage sites in St. Albert.

The week-long workshop from August 12-16 was part of AU’s Documentation and Condition Assessment course (HERM 671), authored and taught by Dr. Mario Santana Quintero. He also serves as professor of Architectural Conservation and Sustainability at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carleton University, and the Director of the NSERC Create Program, “Engineering Students Supporting Heritage and Sustainability (HERITAGEENGINEERING),” based at the Carleton Immersive Media Studio Lab (CIMS).

“The workshop in St. Albert was an engaging experience in which emerging heritage professionals were provided training in the importance, procedures and tools for recording historic buildings for their conservation,” he said.

“Recording the physical characteristics of historic structures and landscapes is a cornerstone of monitoring, preventive maintenance, and conservation. The information produced by such documentation guides decision making by property owners, site managers, public officials, and conservators. Rigorous documentation may also serve a broader purpose: over time, it becomes the primary means by which scholars and the public can apprehend a site that has changed radically or disappeared.

“Thorough documentation plays a vital role in defining a heritage place’s significance, integrity, extent, and threats, and is crucial to understanding, protection, and management. It is essential that heritage professionals understand the various recording techniques that are available to them, as well as their applications. The participants learnt these important skills while documenting important Alberta landmarks, such as the Father Lacombe Chapel and the Cunningham House.”

AU offers undergraduate certificate and graduate diploma programs in Heritage Resources Management. The program started as a unique “government and university-led, work and learn” program in Alberta through the Historical Resources Intern Program.

Over the years, the Heritage Resources Management (HRM) Program grew and expanded its focus to respond to the greater heritage conservation needs. The program partnered with Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women and developed new courses for the HRM program. Documentation and Condition Assessment (HERM 671) is one of these new courses developed at AU in the area of built heritage conservation. The other courses offered in the program are Architectural Conservation (HERM 673), Heritage and Risk Management (HERM 672), and Industrial Heritage (HERM 670).

For this workshop, AU partnered with St. Albert Arts and Heritage Foundation. The workshop was held at the Little White School. This workshop would not have happened without the help and continued support from the foundation. The workshop was full of lectures, presentations, site visits, and hands-on activities throughout the week.

Workshop participants exercised documenting two historic buildings in St. Albert and learned about recording techniques and workflows. They created digital records of the sites using Total Station; Photogrammetry; Panoramic and High Dynamic Range Photography; and laser Scanning.

The participants ended the week by presenting the outcomes of their work to the group.

A public lecture also took place as part of the workshop. The lecture entitled, Harnessing Digital Workflows for the Conservation of Built Heritage, was held at Musée Héritage Museum in St. Albert on Thursday, August 15 and was attended by heritage professionals, members of the heritage communities at large, and the general public.


  • September 18, 2019