Study abroad students record historic sites at CHC workshop

Robert Warden

Centuries-old churches and piazzas in Texas A&M’s study abroad venue in Italy were ideal subjects for design students learning to use sophisticated imaging equipment in a weeklong fall 2016 workshop directed by Robert Warden, director of the Texas A&M Center for Heritage Conservation.

During the workshop at the Santa Chiara Study Center in Castiglion Fiorentino, students used scanners that create pinpoint measurements of thousands of points of laser light reflected from an object, then entered the data into computer-aided design software to create highly detailed 2- and 3-D models of structures in the walled, medieval town.

“The data can reveal important facts and relationships that are extremely important to architectural design, conservation and restoration,” said Warden, who was aided by Julie Rogers, associate director of the CHC and Ph.D architecture student Andrew Billingsley.

“Looking at the models helped with decisions regarding design and space planning in one of my design projects during the semester,” said Austin Ash, a graduate architecture student.

Students also brought the high-tech equipment underground to scan a 14th century crypt beneath a Castiglion Fiorentino church and were treated to views of rarely seen plaster murals on the crypt walls.

Datasets and models created during the workshop are housed in study center archives and available to the public and future students. 

Students were aided by Rossano Gallorini, vice president of Onlus San Michele, a group that participates in the resesarch, promotion and distribution of contemporary art. Gallorini provided historical information about sites that students documented in the workshop.

During the semester, students were also able to witness the completion of a three-year renovation of the iconic bell tower adjacent to the study center and the restoration of “Transfiguration,” a 17th-century painting by Domenico Pugliani. 

Conservators Paolo Cardinali and Alberto Sporio removed of years of blackened varnish from the painting, on display in a church near the study center, to reveal a painting full of light and drama.

The visits to the historic sites and the restoration of Pugliani's painting were facilitated by Sharon Jones Barucchieri, executive director of the study center, and its staff by initiating and cultivating relationships between the center's faculty/students and Castiglion Fiorentino community members.

"Our efforts are part of a year-long committment to provide the best opportunities for study and research and create a culture that promotes success," said Barucchieri.

posted February 18, 2016