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Fort Union Survey Formatting

Survey Form 1

The original survey form developed in 1995 proved to be too complex, but was well intended. Its approach also considered full sections of wall which proved to be to variable for comparative assessment.

Penn Form 1

Our first attempt at a form included graphics to assist in the assessment process. Following the survey, it was determined that many of the questions did not address the issues in a way that allowed the data to identify a scaled assessment of all walls on the site.

Penn Form 2

Above: Our final form was the result of extensive self evaluation of previous forms and the resulting data. This form was meant to allow for "rapid" assessment that could then rank all walls from best to worst condition, as well as provide a way to evaluate each wall by its individual surfaces.

Below: A representative page of the final conditions glossary created for the survey.
Survey Glossary


Condition Surveys
Surveys were completed for the adobe walls in 1995, 2016 and 2018. The concept behind each survey was to identify erosion trends and to prioritize stabilization so as to identify which walls needed treatment and in which order. Following the 2016 survey it became apparent that the most problematic issue for comparing data within a single survey, as well as comparing one survey to another, was how the wall segments were defined. Different teams used different ways of identifying a single segment. The question, which proved most difficult to answer, was should each wall segment be defined by room or building or should walls be divided up so that each segment is comparative in size? Another issue was determining what conditions were critical for assessing walls.

1995 Survey
The original 1995 survey form consisted of two pages divided into eight individual subsections. For this survey a wall unit was defined as any number of wall sections in any orientation as long as they were all physically connected to each other by adobe having no exposed foundation. Since any survey of this type is fundamentally based on the concepts of databasing, additional problems arose because there was no comprehensive code book or glossary describing the rationale behind each question, making it difficult to understand and analyse. In some cases how a question was asked was unclear and in others, the responses would have provided better comparative results if they had been recorded in a different format. Some data referred to original construction, but without solid primary documentation to substantiate this, the results were subjective. For example, the question of “original wall width at base” would be very difficult to know with any certainty unless measurable images were available. 

2016 Survey 
It was determined that for the sake of future assessment, the final survey needed to be usable by those without comprehensive conservation training.  It was the understanding of the CAC team from the beginning that the process of creating an effective survey might take several iterations. As with any effective system, the questions needed to be tested for efficacy. In the initial attempt a general condition survey was designed based on historical documentation and known, as well as presumed, condition data. The 1995 survey was critiqued to help inform the new design. As a rapid assessment survey, maximum efficiency, consistency and repeatability were key considerations. The primary focus was to categorize various observable “indicators” that were contributing to past and active deterioration. These included initial design features such as wall intersections, wall openings (image to the left), brick chimneys, corners, and modern braces (installed after NPS management of the site began in 1954), all of which provided points of fixity. Contextual factors such as grade level, soil bridging and exposure were included, as were present attitude and context of the wall including: length, width, height, lean, and shape. Although it was never the intent to create a new survey for comparison to the 1995 data, it is unfortunate that wall segments could not be defined in the same way as that survey. For the sake of 2016 data comparison, a segment was defined as a single continuous straight running length of wall. This resulted in more segments than the 1995 survey. Aside from it being different in approach, when evaluating the data  it also proved to be inadequate for good comparative assessment.

2018 Survey
For the 2018 survey form, several issues were resolved including the defined wall unit. Instead of working with single continuous walls, each identified unit was divided to be comparative in general size. A continuous wall is considered a segment which is then broken into "sectors". Wall segments can be significantly different in length, however, wall sectors are not. None of the sectors are identical in size, since the divisions were based on easily recognized physical features of the walls such as window and door edges, but it was critical that they be similar in massing so that data could be comparative.  In addition, the survey form was streamlined so that all data could be recorded on one side of a single 8.5 X 11 sheet of paper. This required the creation of a comprehensive survey glossary of critical conditions which was fully reviewed and discussed by the entire team before the actual recording process began.

Post Survey Observations
Overall, the survey was considered successful and the Rapid Assessment Form effective by the NPS staff involved. The Illustrated Glossary Document was well-received and considered a powerful tool for identifification and assessment of adobe wall deterioration typologies and phenomena. Based on recommendations from the park staff, the glossary was reorganized to match the order of the survey form itself, to aid in cross-referencing between the two documents. Additional sections were added in the Glossary Document to further clarify the treatment of openings in wall sectors. For instance, are exposed edges of openings considered as parts of the wall sector or should they be considered separately? Additionally, the treatment of wall conditions above lintels and below sills was further clarified to avoid “double-counting” these areas in the overall assessment of the sector. Addenda  included adding a key diagram illustrating the relative location and significance of the four wall sector elevations as they relate to the form.