Webinar recording October 2022

Mesa Verde Foundation Webinar Series
Preliminary observations of site and structural movements of Cliff Palace, a scientific and engineering perspective.
Presenters: William A. Dupont, FAIA, Conservation Society of San Antonio, Endowed Professor, The University of Texas at San Antonio and James A. Mason, Ph.D., P.E., Structural, Geotechnical Preservation, and Seismic Engineer, National Park Service
Moderator: Monica Buckle (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma)
Mesa Verde Foundation Board Member
Tuesday, October 11th, at 4:00pm (Mountain Time)

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park (MEVE), an inscribed UNESCO World Heritage cultural site, is one of the few Ancestral Puebloan alcove dwelling sites in which the public can have direct guided access. In recent years, on-site documentation conducted by NPS staff has indicated Cliff Palace constructions may be moving downslope and out of the alcove in a slow creeping process. The conditions prompted NPS technical expert staff to investigative. Last year, in May 2021, the National Park Service tasked the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Center for Cultural Sustainability (UTSA-CCS) to collaborate on a 4-year program of research and investigation to support an engineering analysis of structural integrity. Through a cooperative agreement, NPS provides guidance and oversight of the research effort to the highly qualified and experienced research faculty of the UTSA-CCS plus graduate students from the UTSA Historic Preservation, Architecture, and Civil Engineering programs. The project objective is to recommend appropriate treatments for cultural resource management and protection. The research includes robust and detailed documentation, in the form of marked drawings and photographs, and advanced three-dimensional computer analyses, which include the structures, supporting foundation soils, and downslope stability models. Presently, the team of NPS and UTSA-CCS professionals and students are gaining new knowledge through state-of-the-art research and analysis, employing a variety of diagnostic methods in assessment of the 15th century stone walls. This presentation will review the team’s holistic approach to diagnosis of problems, now in year two of the 4-year effort.

Presenter Biographies:
William Dupont, FAIA, is the Conservation Society of San Antonio Endowed Professor at UTSA and directs the university’s Center for Cultural Sustainability, considering the heritage of people as a core element of a sustainable future. Professor Dupont’s projects involve deep resilience; conservation of intangible heritage; condition assessment; feasibility and master plans for historic sites. Dupont teaches architectural design and historic preservation. He leads a U.S. technical team supporting preservation of Museo Ernest Hemingway in Havana. Recent projects concern cultural resource management at Mesa Verde National Park and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, each UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites.

Dr. James A. Mason (Ph.D., P.E.) Structural, Geotechnical Preservation, and Seismic Engineer has more than 40 years of engineering experience that encompasses bridges, buildings, historic structures, geotechnical, and bridge and building foundation engineering, to also include teaching and conducting research at several major universities. Dr. Mason has been employed with the National Park Service for over 7 years as the structural, geotechnical, preservation, and seismic engineer for the Vanishing Treasures Program. The breath of projects that he has been directly involved with for the NPS has been from Ancient Puebloan sites and structures to historic buildings and churches in both the US and Puerto Rico, to historic forts. Example projects are Cliff Palace and Spruce Tree House alcove in Mesa Verde National Park, Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Kytl in Chaco Canyon National Historic site, the Convento and Church at Mission San Jose in San Antonio, Texas, The San Jose Church, Fortin de San Geronimo de Boqueron and Fort El Morro, in San Juan, Puerto Rico to the Civil War era Fort Union, about 70 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dr. Mason incorporates his technical disciplines to provide a holistic approach to preservation engineering within the guiding principles of primum non nocere (first, do no harm) with acknowledgement and utmost respect of cultural heritage, past and present.
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