Research and Documentation
Historic research is an integral part of many of the services BCA offers, including historic structure reports, materials analysis, and building histories. BCA utilizes outside repositories as well as its extensive in-house library collection for research endeavors.
Careful and thoughtful archival research is the basis of all of BCA’s historic preservation analyses. Understanding the context, original design, and evolution of a historic building, object, structure, or site is a critical first step in any preservation project. Research findings, when paired with physical conditions assessments, constitute the framework for sound historic preservation strategy, planning, and treatment decisions. BCA is highly experienced at navigating local, state, and national archival collections, whether online or housed at external repositories. We are also able to mine our extensive in-house collection of contemporary and historical architectural publications and rare books.
Historic Significance Assessments
As part of the pre-design process for work proposed on a historic property, BCA creates an inventory of existing historic fabric and graphically maps how this has changed (or not) from the original design. This approach enables us to understand which aspects of a historic building, object, structure, or site are most historically significant and therefore best suited for preservation treatments, and which can be altered or removed to support a contemporary use. This significance assessment can then be used to form a basis of design for new work and/or to develop a strategy for regulatory review by preservation authorities.
Historic American Buildings Survey Documentation
The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) is a collection of measured drawings, historical information, and photography documenting existing conditions according to established guidelines for thousands of sites in the United States, housed by the Library of Congress and other repositories. HABS-format documentation is often required by preservation authorities as a mitigation for alteration or demolition of a historic property.BCA offers complete documentation services that meet HABS standards.
Historic Preservation Planning
Historic Resource Surveys
A historic resources survey, whether performed at a reconnaissance level or an intensive level, is used to identify and gather data on multiple historic resources in a wider community or other setting, such as a campus. It includes background research; observational fieldwork; evaluation of historical, architectural, archeological, or cultural significance; and the compilation of this information in an inventory. BCA conducts various types of surveys in response to different client needs. Inventory data is then typically used for preservation regulation.
Historic Structure Reports
A historic structure report (HSR) provides documentary, graphic, and physical information about a property's history and existing condition. Broadly recognized as an effective part of preservation planning, a historic structure report also addresses management or owner goals for the use or re-use of the property. HSRs include characterization and analysis of building materials and systems and form a preservation master plan to guide future work. BCA has extensive experience preparing HSRs for for-profit, non-profit, and government clients. Our staff perform the research and writing, materials testing and analysis, technical drawing, and photography. We are often the prime consultants for HSR projects, sub-contracting specialty consultants, such as MEP services, when needed.
Preservation Master Plans
Like an HSR, a historic preservation master plan documents the historical evolution, existing conditions, and significance of a property. Typically, a master plan is created in response to a specific development proposal to evaluate its potential effects on the existing historic fabric. Development proposals triggering the need for a plan can range from routine actions such as systems or accessibility upgrades to major new additions and alterations. Preservation master plans include targeted analysis to support their design guidance, but may not be as exhaustive as HSRs. BCA prepares preservation master plans for both complex and simple historic preservation and adaptive-reuse projects.
State and National Register Nominations
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the historic places across the nation that are worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is administered by the state historic preservation offices (SHPOs) and the National Park Service (NPS). The SHPOs and NPS coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources via listing on the National Register. BCA creates state and national register nominations, working with the SHPOs until listing of a property is completed.
Alterations to historic landmarks require authorization from local regulatory agencies. BCA assists clients in meeting project goals without jeopardizing permits or risking fines by:
• Developing a historic preservation strategy for presenting a project to the local authorities.
• Reviewing design and construction documents for regulatory compliance.
• Preparing application filings, including project narratives, graphics, and material samples.
• Attending meetings and coordinating with regulatory staff.
• Presenting to local stakeholders and historic preservation commissions.
• Providing assistance in making modifications to the proposed work in response to comments by regulatory officials.
BCA assists clients with state-level preservation reviews triggered when state funds are used (or state licenses or permits are required) for work on a property listed on or eligible for the State or National Register of Historic Places. This review process is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). BCA prepares a submission for the SHPO consisting of property documentation and a description of proposed work, evaluating the impact of the work on the historic significance of the building or site. BCA advises clients on how to conform to preservation standards to avoid a SHPO finding of an adverse impact, a determination that may complicate obtaining necessary permits and funding or delay construction efforts.
The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) established the National Register of Historic Places and requires that each federal agency identify and assess the effects its actions may have on historic buildings. Under Section 106, each federal agency must consider public views and concerns about historic preservation issues when making final project decisions. The review process is triggered when federal funds are used (or federal licenses or permits are required) for alteration of a property listed, or eligible for listing, on the National Register. This review process is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), often in tandem with a state-level review. As with state-level reviews, BCA prepares Section 106 consultation submissions, and advises clients on how to conform to preservation standards to avoid an adverse impact finding, a determination that may complicate obtaining necessary permits and funding or delay construction efforts.
Historic Preservation Incentives
The federal Historic Tax Credit is a voluntary federal program that may entitle a building owner or long-term lessee to a tax credit worth 20% of qualifying construction costs. The federal Historic Tax Credit is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the National Park Service and is awarded by the Internal Revenue Service. The requirements for this program are stringent and the application process can be complex, but BCA's careful documentation procedures, design review, and guidance have realized millions of dollars in savings for its clients. In fact, BCA administered one of the largest credits ever granted under the program. In addition to the federal program, many states provide historic tax incentives for historic preservation of commercial and residential buildings. BCA often guides clients through both a tax credit application and a simultaneous regulatory review.
Many clients seek grant funding to support their preservation efforts. BCA can research potential grant sources. We also assist clients in obtaining grants by providing grant writing as a stand-alone service or as part of a larger project.
In the course of a conditions survey, it occasionally becomes necessary to get beneath the surface to find the cause of problems. Conducting probes helps us understand a building's construction better and in some cases shows problematic variations from the intended design.
A conditions survey is often the first step in assessing the conservation needs of a building and is essentially an investigation of material surfaces. For an exterior conditions survey, conservators search for signs that weather resistance has been compromised and for deterioration of building materials that may be hazardous. Interior surveys may encompass any surface – floors, ceilings, walls, fixtures, and so forth.
Using a combination of laser measurement tools, hand drafting, and AutoCad, BCA can create measured drawings of buildings. When original base drawings are lost, field measurements become an invaluable tool for the proper documentation of information about a building's condition.
The preparation of a feasibility study is useful for determining the economic and technical limits of a project. The typical feasibility study includes a conditions survey, budget, and an outline of the scope of services. It may also include an assessment of tax credit eligibility. Careful study of conditions and architecture allows outlining the scope of work in such a way that the maximum tax credit potential is realized.
A preservation master plan is a detailed document for the rehabilitation of an entire property that reflects a preservation approach. Various levels of importance are assigned to different features based on public visibility and historic architectural significance. The plan serves as a tool for the master architect responsible for a project and is used in conjunction with an overall master plan.
BCA assists professional cost estimators during the course of restoration projects with specific pricing related to their scope of work.
A maintenance plan describes the periodic work that is necessary to maintain a structure. A maintenance plan for a historic building identifies and locates historic materials, specifies appropriate products and procedures for routine maintenance, and lays out schedules for the performance of maintenance work. BCA has developed a custom program to track maintenance needs electronically in a database format called mwSpaces. This is a real-time tool to aid facilities managers in tracking cyclical maintenance needs as well as budgeting for future work. Now licensed through the entitiy Metro-Work, Inc., mwSpaces is availavle for facilities managers or any steward of historic properties.
Field Testing is conducted when certain materials or procedures are best done at the building site. A few types of field testing include:
BCA conducts on-site testing of various cleaning materials and application methods to ensure the best cleaning results without damaging the building materials.
Consolidants can sometimes be used to strengthen deteriorated or fragile building materials by increasing the intergranular bond strength of the material. BCA tests samples of consolidated building materials to determine the efficacy of this treatment method. Testing methods include depth of penetration, absorption, water vapor permeability, porosimetry, and color change.
Patching compounds are often used on damaged or deteriorated masonry materials to fill areas of loss. BCA's lab is equipped to develop and test potential patching compounds to establish compatibility between the substrate and the patching material.
BCA's laboratories are equipped with microscopes that allow our conservators to determine detailed chromachronologies from even the smallest paint samples. Precise color matching of a chosen paint layer to one of several commercial paint lines is standard on a BCA finishes analysis. Metallic leaf, glazes, and clear finishes may also be identified. Finishes analysis is used to document alterations to historic buildings, identify historic paint colors, and develop conservation treatments.
It is often advisable to prepare on-site mockups of conservation treatments. Mockups provide an opportunity, prior to the start of full scale work, to refine materials and techniques to allow for field conditions. Cleaning and painting mockups are common examples.
Mortar Analysis and Compositional Analysis of Other Building Materials
BCA is equipped to conduct compositional analyses of various building materials, including historic mortars, to characterize their composition and determine the compatibility of potential replacement materials. BCA is able to perform much of this testing in-house in our conservation laboratory and, when additional analyses are required, we collaborate with select professional materials science laboratories that offer specialized types of analyses.
When applicable, testing follows standardized test methods developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), including:
- Weathering Properties
- Chemical Spot Testing for Pigment and Media Identification
- Petrographic Analysis
- Metals Identification and Conditions Analysis
- Wood Identification and Conditions Analysis
- Paint Stripping Tests (Chemical and Non-Chemical) on All Surfaces
- Cleaning Tests (Chemical and Non-Chemical) on All Surfaces
- Water Absorption Testing
- Capillary Take-Up
- Testing for Performance of Building Materials
- Identification of Salts and Salt Content
- Material Composition
- X-Ray Diffraction Analysis
- Fluorescence Microscopy
- Scanning Electron Microscopy
- Polarized Light Microscopy
- Mass Spectrometry
It is not uncommon for historic buildings to be missing important features that, if recreated, would define their character. Whether you are missing one stone or a hundred, or wish to recreate a decorative paint scheme, a balustrade, window, door, cornice, storefront, or even an entire façade, BCA has the resources to design a compatible replacement that will enhance the architectural integrity of your historic building. Our designers and preservationists work in concert, drawing from our own vast library and collections, to create a sympathetic solution that is in conformance with local and international standards of preservation.
Construction specifications are a detailed set of requirements for construction work and are an important part of construction documentation. BCA prepares specifications for both exterior and interior restoration projects.
BCA offers a full range of drafting services for projects: base drawings, conditions drawings, repair and replication details, and treatment drawings.
BCA’s conservators ensure the contractors work is in conformance with the plans and specifications of the restoration design. Owners hire BCA to be an independent voice to provide fair and seasoned observations of the contractor's performance in terms of quantity, quality, and scope. BCA is uniquely qualified to perform this role because of our experience in every facet of the restoration process from design to construction administration.
BCA's approach to Project Management is rooted in 30 years of experience in the restoration of historic buildings, the administration of large-scale construction projects, and experience with the regulatory processes governing landmarks. From this vantage point, BCA's ability to plan, coordinate and anticipate project needs gives us an edge for making projects functionally and financially viable.
Restoration is a highly specialized field that demands an equal level of specialization to administer the construction process. BCA employs personnel with the proper expertise and training to assist the owner or architect in documenting and managing the construction process.
• Review of submittals and mockups
• Running project meetings and creating accurate minutes
• Tracking the construction schedule
• Review contractor requisitions
• Review contractor change orders
• Punch List
• Review Change Order requests
• Documentation and production of as-built drawings