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2019 Annual AASL Conference: Detailed Program

41st Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaMarch 28th - March 31st, 2019

Thursday, March 28th

A Great Duo: Pittsburgh Public Buildings

A tour of the Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail (H.H. Richardson) and City-County Building (Henry Hornbostel): 12 minute walking distance from Westin Hotel. See Tours for article written by Daniel Willis.

Our tour guides: Daniel Willis, Department of Architecture, Stuckeman School, Penn State University and Martin Aurand, Carniegie Melon University

AASL Happy Hour:  Grand Concourse's Gandy Dancer's Saloon - offers a spectacular view of Pittsburgh (Lyft/ Uber required) meet at Westin lobby to coordinate rides or choose any of the local restaurants: Pittsburgh

Friday, March 29th

Opening Remarks by Chris Sala, President

Pittsburgh’s Built Environment: What’s the Story? What’s the Buzz?
Speakers: Christine Mondor, Rob Pfaffmann, Charles L. Rosenblum
A panel discussion about Pittsburgh architecture and urbanism from the city’s origins to the present day. Moderated by Martin Aurand.

CONFERENCE THEME: BLACK BOX: Articulating Architecture's Core in the Post-Digital Era
This year AASL borrows its theme from ACSA to ask the question: What are the challenges that information professionals specializing in Architecture and its related fields face in a post-digital era. Many of the challenges are easily identifiable - shrinking footprints, reorganizations, preservation, the digital divide, data management, digital scholarship, digital literacy, hybrid collections, re-skilling, increased responsibilities, general uncertainty - and are not limited to architecture information professionals alone. The theme challenges us to shift our thinking, open up conversations about these topics, and explore solutions. We have the chance to re-imagine these challenges as opportunities, creating a new core for information professionals in architecture that will help us to communicate our value to and increase our visibility among peers, administration, and our teaching faculty.


In a Post-digital world we as information professionals continue to respond to and gain recognition of new and additional layers of work. Upon reflection, we can see that a backlash on the value of the role of the digital exists, that issues of capture and access regarding non-traditional resources is ongoing, and that as a profession we must raise the recognition of these materials and revise the core measures with respect to new and non-traditional resources and formats. Both our profession and those that we assist often operate under the misconception that digital makes it easier (yes, on the user end); however, it adds extreme challenges such as preservation and new workflows. The sessions today will explore these issues and raise questions leading us through fruitful discussions


JOINT SESSION: Architectural Information in a Post-Digital Era
Moderator: Jessica Aberle, Collection Development Librarian, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University
Speakers: Matthew Allen, Katie Pierce Meyer, Ann Whiteside

Abstract: Although digital information is theoretically invulnerable to the ravages of time, the physical media on which it is stored are far from eternal….The contents of most digital media evaporate long before the words written on high quality paper. They often become unusably obsolete even sooner, as media are superseded by new, incompatible formats – how many readers remember eight-inch floppy disks? It is only slightly facetious to say that digital information lasts forever – or five years, whichever comes first.[1]

The format of the physical media on which architectural artifacts are stored are only one of the many challenges associated with the preservation of the types of documents produced by architects and architecture students, who often produce hybrid collections, paper and digital objects. These challenges include proprietary software, lack of standards, obsolete software and hardware, lack of work flows, and understanding the necessity for the coordination of numerous stakeholders. We are in a period in which we are working with hybrid collections, which will likely continue. Recently, the Library of Congress hosted the symposium, Designing the Future Landscape: Digital Architecture, Design & Engineering Assets, in November 2017 to open up a dialogue around these issues with varied stakeholders. Their objective was to discuss “the issues and obstacles around long-term preservation and access of these records and begin working towards sustainable solutions.”[2] In April 2018, the Building for Tomorrow forum was held in conjunction with the Society of Architectural Historians annual meeting. One of the takeaways was that architectural education, wherein students can begin to develop a connection to the products of their labor and to the management of their data, can be a site for intervention. Building on this momentum, AASL will host a panel discussion to explore how we as educators – professors, librarians, and archivists – can both better prepare future architects to preserve the legacy of their creative and intellectual output and build a sustainable architectural infrastructure to preserve their records. Challenging future architects to prepare their digital legacy can help change the digital ecosystem of architectural records.

What data are being produced in everyday architectural education? How do students develop their professional identities as architects and what is their relationship to the artifacts they create? What are the ways in which we can influence students and future practitioners to understand the importance of managing their data with an eye to the future of the data and their future as practitioners? How do we introduce or reinforce these issues within the studio context and the culture of architectural education?

[1] Jeff Rothenberg, “Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents,” Scientific American 272.1 (January 1995): 42.
[2] Aliza Leventhal, Designing the Future Landscape: Digital Architecture, Design & Engineering Assets (The Library of Congress, May 12, 2018), 3,

Matthew Allen is a lecturer at the University of Toronto and a PhD candidate in the History and Theory of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His dissertation describes how concepts and techniques from abstract art and concrete poetry made their way into architecture through computer programming in the 1960s and how a culture of programming spread in architecture in the 1970s and `80s. He holds a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University and Bachelor degrees in Physics and Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington. He is currently pursuing several speculative projects in digital preservation.

Katie Pierce Meyer is the Head of Architectural Collections at the University of Texas at Austin.  Her research investigates architecture as socio-technical practice, the preservation of artifacts of practice, and architectural collections as data. She is responsible for special collections, engagement, and digital scholarship for all subject areas within the School of Architecture. Prior to accepting her position as librarian in 2014, she processed archival collections at the Alexander Architectural Archives. Katie received a BA in Philosophy from Southwestern University, Master’s degrees in Information Studies and Architectural History and a PhD in Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Ann Baird Whiteside is Librarian/Assistant Dean for Information Resources at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. The focus of her work is expanding the creation of and access to digital resources in close collaboration with scholars, and the use of technology to support teaching and research. She also actively works to create the bridge between technology, research support and the re-envisioning of the 21st century library through her work. Ann has been actively involved in projects that make change in scholarship through her work with cataloging guidelines for museums objects and images (Cataloging Cultural Objects), the FACADE project (that explored the preservation of CAD files), her work as Project Director of SAHARA, and as PI of the Building for Tomorrow IMLS grant. She is active in many professional organizations and committees that shape approaches to the changing needs and opportunities faced by research libraries in an increasingly digital environment.

SESSION ONE: The Professional Librarian

Moderator: : Martha Walker, Architecture Librarian and Coordinator of Collections, Fine Arts Library, Cornell University
Nilda Sanchez-Rodriguez
Assistant Professor/Chief Architecture Librarian
The City College of New York

The Many Hats of a Solo Architecture Librarian

In higher education, solo librarians must balance the demands of the academic tripod (scholarship, teaching, and service), while liaising and managing the daily operations of an academic library. Full-time library faculty at the City University of New York (CUNY) must meet demanding research/publication standards for tenure and promotion, alongside the challenges of day-to-day work in varied settings. As the only professional librarian present responsibilities range from: access services (circulation and reserve), reference, research and instruction, cataloging, collection development, budget planning, staff management, among others.

The responsibilities of a solo architecture librarian include understanding the interdependence of building relationships in order to improve customer service and making the library run efficiently. One person librarians (OPL) are proactive in collaborating, advocating, and marketing services to demonstrate their value to students, faculty, staff, and college communities.

Ongoing advocacy requires the librarian to build connections with user population to maintain relevance in a continuously changing information environment.  The pace of information needs are constantly evolving; thus having appropriately trained support-staff affords the librarian the opportunity to work more effectively.  In most cases, OPL adapt well to simultaneously juggling numerous responsibilities; however, some leaders underestimate the importance of time and stress management. Part of the problem is learning how to redistribute workload to use time efficiently to get the job done. This presentation broadly examines the experience of work-life circumstances, which focus on the demands of tenure-track library faculty to develop balanced productivity.

Nilda Sanchez-Rodriguez is division Chief Librarian of the Architecture Library at The City College of New York and Assistant Professor at the City College Libraries. In this role, she is responsible for staffing, collection building, developing relationships with the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, teaching bibliographic instruction, and monitoring the physical conditions of the library. She holds a Masters in Library and Information Sciences from Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY); a Masters of Arts in Urban Studies from Queens College, CUNY; a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts from the City College of New York, CUNY; and an Associate of Arts degree in Business Management from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY.

Kevin Block
Doctoral Candidate
UC Berkeley

Cultivating Judgment: From Expertise to Expert Systems

For many of the founders of the first university-based American schools of architecture, the library was not merely a reference catalog of styles or a storehouse of construction information, but a part of a pedagogical apparatus that aimed to produce a new kind of liberal subject: the professional designer. What distinguished this professional, like professionals in other fields, was the capacity to exercise judgement, a discretionary capacity that determined the very basis of the architect’s expertise. Today, as the practice of architecture rapidly changes in relation to the use of generative design programs and expert systems of knowledge management that are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, the exercise of human judgement remains central, even as professionalism as a way of organizing expert labor withers away. What constitutes judgment, however, and how architecture schools produce it in their students is less clear.

In this paper, I will begin to suggest answers to these questions by comparing the pedagogical techniques that William Robert Ware and his faculty at Columbia University developed in the late nineteenth century, especially those oriented toward the Avery Architecture Library, with pedagogical techniques employed by contemporary design educators at the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. Comparison of these two case studies reveals that although most information technologies attempt to strengthen expertise by making the exercise of judgment more collaborative than it was in the past, the cultivation of judgement in spaces like the Environmental Design Library may now be marginal to architectural education at Berkeley. It shouldn’t be. To conclude the presentation, I articulate a normative theory of the architectural judgement that calls on studio instructors and architecture information professionals to recenter architectural education on the cultivation of judgement, whether that process of cultivation takes place in the library or elsewhere.

Kevin Block is a doctoral student at UC Berkeley whose research concerns the history and theory of architecture, especially in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is especially interested in the topic of expertise and the sociology of architecture.

SESSION TWO: Non-Traditional Collections

Moderator: Laura Marion, Archivist, Governor’s House Library, University of Florida

Maya Gervits, PhD                                                  Gilda Santana
Litttman Architecture Library                                Head, Paul Buisson Architecture Library
New Jersey Institute of Technology                      University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

Architecture of Oral Histories / Oral Histories of Architecture

History as the transmission of experience between generations and a way to visualize the past can help to make this past “more generally accessible”. Cicero’s famous expression that history “gives life to recollection and guidance to human existence” can be applied to the study of individual institutions. Learning a college/university history is critical not only because it helps to preserve its past but also because it creates a unifying experience and promotes a better understanding of how the institution has evolved over time.  In his article “Why a College Should Teach Its Own History” published in The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2016 Corey Ryan Earle discussing his experience at Cornell University concluded: “Having observed more than 2,000 students in my classroom, I am a firm believer that one of the best investments a college can make is in teaching its own history”. Through the archiving and analyzing individual, community, and institutional histories, it is possible to amplify for future generations the critical narratives that constitute collective memory. Juxtaposition of visual, textual and audio materials allows for creation of a more complete and holistic picture of objects of study. The development of new technological advancements made it possible to access online materials in different formats those scattered throughout various collections.

The proposed presentation will focus on two digital projects recently conceived at the Littman Library at  NJIT and at the Paul Buisson Architecture Library at the University of Miami. It will discuss their structures and main elements, including oral history, which has been lately gaining more popularity. Oral histories serve as a valuable bridge between the often impersonal narratives of the past and the personal experiences of individuals. Such projects as Archives of American Art (AAA), Smithsonian Institution in Washington, Oral History Archive for Contemporary Art and Architecture in ETH in Zurich, Austin Architectural Archives Oral History Project are the testament to the growing application of oral history methods to the study of architecture. A panel at the recent SAH conference in Pasadena confirms this interest. The presentation will discuss best practices, specific features legal aspects, and technical limitations. It will touch on such issues as conflicting and contested memories and “subconscious manipulation”

Maya Gervits is the Director of the Littman Architecture Library at NJIT.  She has been in this position since 2002. Prior to her appointment at NJIT she worked as a curator at the Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia), as the Western Art Bibliographer at Princeton University, and as Art Librarian at Rutgers University. Gervits also lectured on the history of Russian and Western art and architecture as well as on librarianship, both in the US and in Russia. Throughout her professional career, she has focused her studies on the history of visual arts and architecture, architectural preservation, and various aspects of librarianship, especially on the application of computers in libraries. Gervits conducts research in both architectural history and librarianship and is involved in the work of professional organizations in both fields.

Gilda Santana is the Head of the Paul Buisson Architecture Library, and the Subject Liaison for Art & Art History at the University of Miami. She has an MLIS from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a Master of Science in Architecture. Santana initiated and is managing a School of Architecture oral history project which will be the subject of her portion of the presentation.

Pamela Casey
Architecture Archivist
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library

Old Data, New Users: Navigating Legacy Description and Arrangement in the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives Photography Collection

In 2013 Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library acquired the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives, which includes a substantial photography collection of approximately 45,000 items, an incomparable resource documenting Wright’s professional and personal life. Along with the transfer of photographs, negatives, slides, and transparencies, Avery received the Foundation’s legacy database, which revealed a long-running practice of cataloguing this collection at the item-level, a practice more common in museums than archives. This database has been an invaluable guide as we process the photos, and its item-level accession numbering and identification information has definitely proved useful for handling research requests as well as Avery’s growing exhibition and digital imaging needs. At the same time, wrangling its detailed description and cumbersome arrangement schemes into a standard archival finding aid has proved challenging. This presentation will explore some of the challenges faced, solutions found, and terrific discoveries made during the yearlong processing of this important visual collection documenting the life and work of one of America’s key architects.

Pamela Casey is Architecture Archivist in the Department of Drawings and Archives at Columbia University’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library. Pamela previously worked as Archivist at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal and as a researcher and editor for architects and architectural historians in Canada and the UK. She holds an MLIS from the School of Information Studies at McGill University and an MFA in Writing from Columbia University. She has taught academic writing to architecture students at the Pratt School of Architecture in New York, and creative writing to undergraduates at Columbia. Her role at Avery focuses on outreach to faculty and students, processing photography collections and visual materials, and planning for future architectural born-digital collections.

DISCUSSION SESSION: Library Statistics Report

Moderator: Cindy Frank, Architecture Librarian, University of Maryland

Paula Farrar
Architecture & Planning Librarian
University of British Columbia

Modernizing the Accreditation "Library Statistics Report

The Academic Library of 2018 is no stranger to the digital world. Digital resources account for an overwhelming majority of our collections budgets. We have long been grappling with large e-package deals, skyrocketing ejournal prices, patron-driven acquisitions programs, evidence-based acquisitions programs, licensed vs. owned content, consortial vs. direct pricing, electronic records lacking Library of Congress call numbers, etc. So imagine my surprise, when in the spring of 2018, after submitting an extensive report on the Library for the Architecture School’s APR, I received an email informing me that the Accreditation Team further required the "Library Statistics Report"*. A form that requested detailed expenditure information and number of volumes for resource types such as microform reels, microfiche, slides and photographs, but had no mention of electronic resources.

This presentation will give an overview of my response to the “Library Statistics Report” and provide an opportunity to discuss AASL and AASL’s members’ roles in bringing the Library Statistics Report into the now “Post-Digital” world.

*Page 23 of the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (NAAB affiliate) document:

Paula Farrar has worked at the University of British Columbia Library since graduating with her MLIS in 2005.  She has been the liaison librarian to the School of Community & Regional Planning since 2006 and the liaison to the School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture since 2014

Saturday, March 30th at CMU

Today’s sessions explore how information professionals might meet the challenges of hybridity that arise in both the scholarly and professional output of the post-digital world of architecture students, faculty, and professionals whether in our physical spaces, access tools, or the formal completion documents of our students.

Moderator: Beth Dodd, Curator, Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries
Cathryn Copper
Head, Art & Architecture Library
Virginia Tech

ARCH-THECA-TURE: Technology for Hybrid Spaces in Architecture Libraries

Looking at technology from a robust lens, this session examines how architecture libraries can be spaces to move seamlessly between the digital and physical for communication, research, and creative practice. Topics discussed include approaches to hybrid collections, technology for architecture education, and re-skilling the professional librarian.

How can physical collections become access points to digital collections and vice versa? What technology can architecture librarians support that architecture students do not already have access to? What would it take to create a truly smart library?

Architecture libraries and librarians of the future need to be agile and flexible. A major shift is happening in networked libraries and design studio education. This session serves as an incubator for a much bigger movement.

Cathryn Copper is a librarian and art and architecture aficionado. She has produced and collaborated on projects that range from using technology as reference and teaching tools to collaborative approaches to architecture education. Her research examines new ways to advance the field of librarianship in support of the disciplines of art and architecture. Her most significant contribution to humankind is raising two adventurous boys as the next generation of thinkers and creators.

Clarissa Carr
Ph.D. Student
University of Florida

Beyond the Physical Collection: encouraging engagement with resources through Esri Story Maps

Over the past several years, drawings, photographs, and slides have been donated to the University of Florida (UF) Architecture Archives from Harry Merritt (1929-2016). Merritt studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, moving to Florida to work with Gene Leedy at the recommendation of Paul Rudolph- both members of the Sarasota School of Architecture. Merritt then moved to Gainesville, Florida in 1960 to practice and teach at UF. Meritt’s prolific impact on the built environment in Gainesville and legacy imprinted onto his students has largely gone undocumented.

The donated collection presented several issues: the papers are not comprehensive; several projects are missing dates and locations; and many drawings were lost to environmental damage while in family possession. These issues are encountered with many postwar architects. As they reach their twilight years, their buildings are reaching the age of historical significance. Through an internship with the UF Architecture Archives, the Harry Merritt Papers were processed with the creation of a finding aid, online exhibit, and two public presentations. After these presentations, several community members and former students asked about buildings they thought were a product of Merritt, but not identified in the collection.

How do we continue to engage those interested with a collection who may not have a deep interest in research, but want to contribute to or quickly determine if information they have is useful or worth further inspection? This presentation proposes the project of taking the Harry Merritt Papers at UF further into the public view through the use of Esri Story Maps. By encouraging preservationists, educators, design professionals, and community members to interact with and contribute to the story map, the collection will not only gain increased exposure, but the body of knowledge is built upon by those interested in the collection.

Clarissa Carr is a PhD student at the University of Florida in the Historic Preservation Program in the College of Design, Construction and Planning. Her research explores virtually unknown legacies of the second generation of Postwar American Modern architects. Specifically, she is delving into the career of Harry Merritt (1929-2016), who practiced architecture primarily in Florida and taught at the University of Florida. By looking at Merritt’s legacy through several thematic lenses, Clarissa hopes to develop a precedent for identifying and highlighting future architects of this era.


Moderator: Ardys Kozbial, Collections and Outreach Librarian, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Rebecca Price
University of Michigan

Preserving and Accessing Design Theses

There has been increasing interest in preserving and providing access to design theses (whether physical or digital). While institutional repositories have protocols and processes for accepting text-based theses, there is no established practice for the documentation or deposit of design work. I would like to have a conversation with fellow architecture librarians about potential practices and standards that we could institute to begin capturing design work digitally for preservation and access. Some design work results in a physical product that could be captured in visual form. Other design work is born digital and may bring with it issues of atypical or proprietary file formats. This is related to the IMLS-funded project, Building for Tomorrow, which is looking at the broader issue of digital design records. This presentation and discussion will focus more on academic design work and academic repositories, though with an eye on the work of Building for Tomorrow.

Rebecca Price has been the architecture librarian at the University of Michigan for 20 years.  She is a member of and have been involved with AASL, ARLIS/NA and the VRA over the years.

Sunday, March 31st