Sunday, June 17, 2012

Measure Once, Move Along

The old adage for crafting a building goes measure twice, cut once. I imagine if there were an adage for documenting a building it would be, measure once, move along. This isn't to imply that we record a building haphazardly using every first measurement we take. It has more to do with the efficiency of moving thorough and documenting as much as possible with precious limited time.

We understand the old adage teaches us to be very sure with a measurement before you might cause an expensive piece of wood to become scrap. It seems like this kind of slow and certain caution would apply for recording information about a completed structure. What I found in the world of recording buildings is that time is the most precious factor. The building exists and is static; there is no expensive wood pieces to be turned to scrap. However, there is a giant wealth of information begging to be recorded.

On the first day measuring some homes of Thurston Woods, our groups worked slow and sure. At the end of the day we had rooms left undocumented and a bewilderment as to why we didn't get it all done. With that experience came a great respect as to how documenting buildings not only well, but quickly requires a different strategy than what we are used to.

I would say on the third day of documenting some homes of Thurston Woods, we were getting into the grove. We were moving more efficiently, becoming more confident with measuring things once, and becoming more familiar with the conventions of field drawing and note taking. If at any point a measurement didn't sound right, the measure twice mentality would be called for. It is part of the strategy to quickly evaluate the measurements coming in, not only record them like a computer.  Our groups tackled new houses and with an aggressive edge to our documentation strategy, we were able to finish what we wanted.

Week 1: BLC groups out in the field documenting houses of the neighborhood.

Distinguished guest Professor Jeffrey Klee, Architectural Historian talks about field documentation.