Newtown, Pa. - Besting a field of major colleges and universities, Bucks County Community College garnered first prize in a national competition for architectural drawings. Bucks won the 2008 Charles E. Peterson Prize, an annual contest presented by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) of the National Park Service, the Atheneum of Philadelphia, and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
The prize honors Charles E. Peterson, founder of the HABS program, and is intended to increase appreciation of historic buildings throughout the United States while adding to the permanent HABS collection of measured drawings at the Library of Congress. Representatives of the college picked up the $3,000 award in Washington, D.C., Friday, November 14, at the AIA’s Historic Resources Committee meeting.
“If this isn’t a David and Goliath story, I don’t know what is,” said John Petito, Assistant Academic Dean of the Department of Behavioral and Social Science, noting that BCCC was the only community college in the competition.
Bucks’ historic preservation team rose to the top of 14 entries, 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, and the Art Institute of Chicago’s historic preservation department. Judges were from the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Atheneum of Philadelphia.
“It was by far the most competitive competition in recent memory,” noted Mark Schara, architect for the National Park Service’s HABS and one of the judges. “A total of 23 points out of 300 separated the winning project from the 11th-place entry.”
The winning submission by Bucks was a set of measured drawings of the Best Farm Stone Barn at Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick, Md. Project director and instructor Kathryn Ann Auerbach led preservation students over two summer sessions and an independent study last winter to produce detailed documents of the late 18th-century stone barn that witnessed fighting during the Civil War Battle of Monocacy.
“This was a unique opportunity for Bucks students to produce valuable documents for the National Park Service, while learning about the architecture of the building, its comparison to local Bucks barns, and the historical events around the ‘Battle that Saved Washington,’” Aeurbach said.
The hands-on activity of taking field measurements of the actual building, then creating measured drawings for a permanent record to be filed in the Library of Congress, are components of the HABS Workshop offered through the Historic Preservation Certificate Program at Bucks.
“The program is very unique,” noted Pat Fisher-Olsen, coordinator of the Historic Preservation Certificate Program and an alumna. “We offer students an opportunity to participate in active preservation work traditionally available only at full-time graduate level preservation and architecture programs at universities.”
The Stone Barn drawings completed a series of HABS projects Bucks performed for the National Park Service under a five-year cooperative agreement. Previous projects included the Brawner Farm House in Manassas Battlefield Park, Va., which won a third place Peterson prize, and the Thomas Farm-Araby Outbuildings, which won a fourth place Peterson prize.
Thomas Vitanza, Senior Historical Architect for the NPS’s Historic Preservation Training Center, has worked closely with Bucks students on these projects.
“We chose Bucks because of their ability, through drawings done by hand, to highlight the specific construction details and to provide insight into the buildings’ architectural interpretations,” said Vitanza. “Bucks students aren’t afraid of getting down and dirty in the process of recording minute details about the structure, in the spirit of Charles Peterson’s philosophy of learning architecture through graphic analysis.”
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.
To learn more about the Historic Preservation Program at Bucks, contact Patricia Fisher-Olsen at 215-968-8286 firstname.lastname@example.org.