Thursday, December 04, 2008

Local Community College Bests Big-Name Schools

Bucks County Community College is probably not the first place that comes to mind when people think of top architecture departments in the country. But the school's historic preservation students scored a major upset recently when they took first place in a prestigious national competition.

The Bucks students are savoring their first place showing in the Charles E. Peterson Prize competition, an annual contest that involves precise documentation of historic structures. Peterson - a long time Philadelphian until his death in 2004- is considered the godfather of the preservation movement. He was one of the few who had the foresight to object to the creation of Independence Mall and the destruction of blocks of historic buildings.

Competitors for the prize are required to create precisely measured architectural drawings of historic structures. Such drawing skill is an increasingly rare, but important discipline, in this age of computerized architecture. Peterson, who worked for the National Park Service, helped establish a federal program called the Historic American Building Survey (HABS), which is used to document important historic buildings. The HABS drawings are so detailed that they can be used to reconstruct or repair a damaged historic structure.

The Bucks' students measured an old stone barn for their entry, but ironically it wasn't one of the many local ones. They chose to examine the Best Farm Stone Barn at Monocacy National Battlefield, a Civil War site in Frederick, Md. It took two summers to compete the project. Although the barn was far from their home campus, documenting its design gave them insight into their own local vernacular architecture. The Bucks students aren't even part of a regular architecture program. Their course is listed under the Department of Social and Behavioral Science.

Nevertheless, they bested 13 other entrants, beating out Kent State University’s College of Architecture, which placed second, and a third-place tie between Clemson University’s graduate program in historic preservation, as well as the Art Institute of Chicago’s historic preservation department. Judges were from the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Atheneum of Philadelphia. “If this isn’t a David and Goliath story, I don’t know what is,” said John Petito, a dean in the Department of Behavioral and Social Science, noting that BCCC was the only community college in the competition.

The historic preservation team from Bucks consisted of: Diana Barbera-Horwitz, Petrona Charles, M. Scott Doyle, Jennifer Eagen, Patricia Fisher-Olsen, R. Stephen Gray, Mirka John, Kevin Keating, Lisa Mroszczyk, Geoffrey Raike, Lexa Rio, Stephen Russell, Christopher Smith, Suzanne Stasiulatis, Vickie Stauffer, and Maureen Victoria.


Blogger daniel john said...

It’s great to see good information being shared.Well this is a great piece architecture.

12:34 AM  

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