The Traditional Building Conference in Pittsburgh, PA: Oct 24-25

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Join the editors of Period Homes and Traditional Building at the Traditional Building Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on October 25-26, 2016. This fall's conference will take place at the historic Grand Hall at Priory.

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Learn more and register on the Traditional Building Conference web site. 

Schedule of Seminars and Events

DAY 1


Preserving Sandstone and Restoring Terra Cotta: Lessons from the Union Trust Project

1 AIA HSW Learning Units

Speakers: Stephen Wessling, AIA, CSI, ICC, President and CEO; Scott A. Winkler, AIA, LEED AP; Wessling Architects, Quincy, MA

The Union Trust building was built as the Union Arcade by Henry Clay Frick 100 years ago. It is a gothic gem embellished with architectural terra cotta on its monumental mansard roof. This session will be lead by the architects who supervised the recent rehabilitation of this Pittsburgh Landmark. They will delve into the preservation of sandstone and restoration of architectural terra cotta, drawing upon the work on this project, but discuss other historic buildings as well.

Learning Objectives:

  • List common problems and solutions for deteriorated sandstone and architectural terra cotta.
  • Discuss symptoms of problems related to moisture, weathering, exfoliation, spalling and crazing when assessing conditions of historic and existing buildings constructed of sandstone and architectural terra cotta.
  • Consider solutions for moisture problems associated with long-standing structural leaks.
  • Plan for repairs, cleaning, logistics and safety of workers and building during the rehabilitation process.

Side by Side: Historic Preservation and New Urbanism in Pittsburgh- Lecture and Walking Tour

Please note: two miles round-trip; please wear sturdy shoes and pack your rain gear just in case we need it; people with disabilities can navigate the tour route.

1.5 HSW Learning Units

Speakers: Eric Osth, AIA, Managing Principal; Urban Design Associates, Pittsburgh, PA; Donald Carter, FAIA; David Lewis Director of the Remaking Cities Institute, Carnegie Mellon University and former Managing Principal, Urban Design Associates, Pittsburgh, PA; Ling Hong, LEED AP, Senior Urban Designer, Urban Design Associates, Pittsburgh, PA and Terry Welsh, AIA, Associate, Urban Design Associates, Pittsburgh, PA

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Pittsburgh becomes our laboratory in this session that begins with a brief lecture followed by a walking tour in small groups. Our focus will be on how principles of New Urbanism are supporting historic preservation in the city. Pittsburgh gets high marks for livability, walkability, master planning and business development. We will explore Pittsburgh’s north side, walk across the Roberto Clemente suspension bridge to examine the Market Square area and return to the Priory with a few more stops.

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss the impact on health and well-being by creating spaces for people to enjoy the rivers, use footbridges and walking/bike paths, and how civic engagement is bettered by having places for people to gather.
  • Explain how historic preservation has made Pittsburgh better: socially, economically, and environmentally through master planning and implementation.
  • Reflect on how healthy communities are made through safe walking strategies.
  • Consider the role that planners, government, architects, builders, nonprofits and developers play in creating livable communities.


Steel Windows: A Master Class on Repair and Replication

3 AIA HSW Learning Units

Speakers: Natalie Lord, LEED AP, BD + C, Architect, Humphries Poli Architects, Denver, CO and James Turner, Craftsman and Educator, Turner Restoration, Detroit, MI and Gary Tondorf-Dick, AIA, LEED AP; Program Manager, Facilities Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Improvements in the manufacturing technology of rolled steel windows around 1890 made steel windows a dominant product of choice for institutional, commercial, and some residential applications through 1950. Like their wooden counterparts, there is a spectrum of treatment options from repair through replacement, available for preservation projects today. Steel is still a desirable material for new windows in new construction today. The instructors will share insights on repairing and replacing steel windows from selected historic preservation projects. Repair process will be demonstrated or viewed on video.

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Learning Objectives:

  • List key historical moments in the use of steel windows.
  • List the steps in preparing baseline documentation for historic steel window repair and replacement projects including research, documentation, paint analysis, and hazard materials testing.
  • Apply safe work procedures for steel windows with lead and asbestos present by implementing work plans developed in concert with third party testing firms.
  • Design repair and replacement work with the goals of smooth operation, energy efficiency and compatible matching of details.

Optional Evening Program:

Private complimentary Screening of “Through the Place”
with discussions before and after the one-hour film.

Location: Byham Theater, 101 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Reservations appreciated: marylu@phlf.org; 412-471-5808, ext. 536


1 AIA Learning Unit

In celebration of its 50th Anniversary, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation released this documentary about the role historic preservation has played in improving the quality of life in Pittsburgh, the surrounding region and the nation. Pittsburgh native and preeminent American historian, David McCullough is interviewed along with nationally distinguished preservationists, Stanley Lowe, Roberta Brandes Gratz, and Peg Breen.
Learning Objectives:

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  • Place historic preservation projects in Pittsburgh in a national context of how preservation is a key component of urban revitalization in the United States.
  • Cite examples of neighborhood revitalization.
  • Observe historical footage and reflect on historic preservation’s role in civic betterment including civic pride and cultural identity.
  • Apply the use of drone photography, other aerial views, and other methods of documentation to tell a story of a place.

DAY 2

Applying Building Codes to Historic Buildings

Speaker: Theodore Vedock, AIA, Hammel Associates Architects, LLC, Lancaster, PA

1.5 AIA HSW Learning Units

The International Building Code (IBC) and International Existing Building Code (IEBC) give consideration to historic buildings to accommodate their use and reuse for a multitude of purposes. The presenter, an experienced preservation architect whose firm has worked on more than 120 historic buildings, will use case studies to illustrate alternative compliance paths. He will trace the history of building codes and their application to historic buildings. He will also discuss accessibility.

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Learning Objectives

  • Discuss how existing and historic buildings are addressed in the International Building Code and International Existing Building Code.
  • Compare and contrast alternative compliance paths available to the project designer.
  • Cite examples of alternative compliance paths that have been successfully used in historic preservation through the session case studies.
  • Recall historic architectural elements, finishes and materials that have been saved in the case studies presented and use similar strategies to protect historic materials in future work.


Bronze, Cast Iron, and Cast Aluminum: Properties, Preservation, and Performance

1 AIA HSW Learning Unit

Speaker: Robert Baird, Historical Arts and Casting, West Jordan, UT

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The industrial revolution in Europe paved the way for the use of cast metals as a viable building material in the 19th century. James Bogardus’s patent for the use of cast iron in building facades revolutionized construction in the US. What previously had been carved in stone could now be cast, replicated, and transported in abundance. Wealth, and the vision of the City Beautiful movement, as well as a hunger for sharing artistic detail was now within the grasp of private property owners and government buildings.

This course will explore the properties of architectural cast metals including; Cast Iron, Bronze and Aluminum and each of their benefits and advantages. Manufacturing technology, the sources of deterioration; maintenance, conservation and restoration methods will be covered referencing completed projects and practical applications.

Learning Objectives

  • Compare and contrast the properties of cast iron, bronze and cast aluminum and the benefits and advantages of each material.
  • Discuss the manufacturing technology behind producing architectural cast metal products along with the appropriate finishes for each.
  • Explain the problems caused by electrolytic action on metals and recommend corrective action.
  • List maintenance, conservation and repair techniques to keep cast metal ornament in service on historic buildings.

Choice of Tours:

Tour 1:

Downtown in the 21st Century: Balancing Preservation and Development-Walking Tour

Guides: Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation Docents and Local Architects TBA

3 AIA HSW Learning Units

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During this fast-paced 3-hour walking tour, docents from the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and local architects will describe how a vibrant and distinctive downtown is being created through historic preservation strategies (National Register Districts, easements, restorations, and adaptive use) and green-building design. You’ll explore significant buildings, including H. H. Richardson’s Allegheny County Courthouse, and public spaces, including Market Square and Mellon Square, and hear about the Penn-Liberty Cultural District and Fifth/Forbes residential/retail corridor.

Some stops will include interior visits and some will require security screening. Extensive walking; wear sturdy shoes and pack your rain gear in case we need it. People with disabilities or anyone requiring assistance are able to participate in this tour but please give us 72 hours notice so we can adequately prepare.

Learning Objectives

  • List important architectural landmarks and their architects and builders in Pittsburgh’s historic downtown.
  • Describe the rich use of traditional and contemporary building materials in downtown Pittsburgh.
  • Explain the Pittsburgh Renaissance of Urban Development from 1946-1974 and its impact on the health and welfare of the city.
  • Apply lessons learned from the preservation of key historic sites and recent efforts to improve the sustainability of the city of Pittsburgh for improved building performance and livability.

Tour 2:

Shop and Site: Pittsburgh’s Building Craftspeople at Work

3 AIA Learning Units

Presenters: Nick Lardos, Niko Contracting; others TBA

This tour will take participants to studios and work sites of many of Pittsburgh’s building craftspeople who preserve historic buildings and fabricate new work using traditional materials. Participants will have time to observe work in progress, ask questions about craft materials and capabilities, examine rigging and other logistical processes on site and in the shop or studio. Current crafts included: copper work, stained glass, and wooden window repair. Others may be added.

installing the Eldridge Street Synagogue's Art Glass

Bus provided; some walking on uneven surfaces so wear sturdy shoes. People with disabilities or people requiring assistance are able to participate in this tour but please give us 72 hours notice so we can adequately prepare. Not all sites may be accessible. Thank you. This tour is limited to 28 participants.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe different building craft methods and materials featured on the tour.
  • Apply lessons learned from discussions with craftspeople on the job site and in their studios such as logistical planning, sequencing, and lead-time planning.
  • Summarize important craft detailing gained by interacting with craftspeople on the tour.
  • State that traditional building craft skills are available for both historic preservation and traditionally inspired new construction projects.

Learn more and register on the Register now!