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Nakashima Analysis

Contextual and material investigation
The first phase of the CMP project has expanded the contextual history as well as the investigation of the surrounding landscape, building fabric, interior and exterior environment, and collections. 

Historical documentation and oral evidence
With the primary archival documents inventoried, a building chronology and narrative for the development of the complex has been prepared. Accounting books and oral evidence have provided enough information to establish a construction chronology for the Arts Building and Cloister and to trace the origin of  materials in some cases.

In order to supplement this effort and to obtain a better understanding of the cultural significance of the place, oral history with family members and workers is being conducted. The scope of work involves supplementing gaps that have been detected in reviewing all the material available, both written and recorded, particularly with regard to the collections and the connections with the Foundation for Peace.
Landscape survey and assessment
With the purpose of surveying the landscape, the team used a high resolution orthorectified aerial mapping methodology. A weather balloon with a GoPro camera was launched to take different aerial shots. These shots were post processed and merged creating orthoimages to from a final digital source to delineate the landscape features. Taking advantage of this technique, it was also possible to prepare an orthoimage to delineate a roof projection.

Along with this methodology, the study of the setting was based on a cultural landscape methodology involving documentary research, field study, and stakeholder's knowledge. This report evaluates the history and integrity of the landscape including changes to the design, intent, context, approach sequence, views, use, and materials.

Challenges come from controlling the views to the surrounding residential properties while maintaining the visual character of the deciduous forest, and towards the rest of the property that is not under the scope of this project.

Building recording

One of the goals of the project has been to expand the existing recording of the building. This included the preparation of new building sections, the hyperbolic paraboloid roof, a window schedule, and the study of building details. The drawings have provided a valuable base to expand the analysis of the setting, identify the contributing features on a site map, as well as overlay extant conditions.

Envelope and interior environment assessment

Having in mind that the Arts Building and Cloister will house significant collections, the goal was to identify conservation issues concerning the environmental and the hygrothermal performance of the building envelope. In addition to the study of climatic conditions, passive and mechanical systems for environmental management, limited monitoring of temperature, relative humidity and light intensity were conducted.

In addition, Penndesign students perfomed a daylighting study. This will demonstrate if it is possible to achieve reductions in illuminance by reinstating seasonal placement and relocation of shoji screens.

Above: Arts Building and Cloister setting and floorplan.

Photographs of the existing conditions on the Arts Building. Above: plywood checking. Below: rust staining on reinforced concrete surface. 

Building fabric investigation

Comprehensive condition surveys have been undertaken by the Architectural Conservation Laboratory team. Conditions were noted and categorized according to accepted professional standards.

Moisture infiltration is the main cause of deterioration in the Arts Building and Cloister. The water disposal system requires special attention, as well as the current condition of the flooring, walls, and roofs. Envelope performance presents an interesting conservation challenge. On one hand, the current characteristics and configuration of the window walls may conflict with the conservation of the valuable collections housed in the interior. On the other hand, changes in detail, like those performed in the past, may compromise integrity and therefore authenticity.

 Within this predicament, the project team has conducted a window construction investigation and condition survey to devise a methodology for their conservation, while minimizing the impact on the historic property and preserving specific techniques conceived by George Nakashima.

Wood identification and material characterization
The building fabric assessment was supplemented with wood ID, necessary to determine what type of wood was used for the different structural elements. Provided data informed the a computer structural model. 

Wood species identification was combined with the use of a resistance drill to assess the condition of structural elements and architectural details. This technique was supplemented with visual investigation to understand the factors dealing with decay.

Along with wood, other materials, such as joint mortars, were characterized by students of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. The outcome was used to suggest treatments to be performed during the summer.

Structural assessment

Due to budget limitations, no physical testing was possible. In addition to a critical review of the original theory, the structural engineer was able to propose a thesis on the Arts Building. As far as we know, this is the first thesis on building a theoretical model for plywood hyperolic paraboloid shells. The computer modeling allows examining any number of loading conditions and, once refined, can be consulted for determining possible shoring locations during future repairs.

Collections assessment
Simultaneously with the interior environment assessment, the project goal was to identify general materials present in the collections as well as inherent characteristics of the building itself that could represent a risk. This work eventually will inform a preventive conservation plan to control the vulnerabilities of the objects due to the environmental conditions.

This study will be supplemented by a curatorial and significance assessment to explore and understand the provenance, meaning, as well as the importance of artifacts and objects associated with the building. The conclusion will be the reference point for all the policies and decision-making about how the collection is managed.
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