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ARCHITECTURAL CONSERVATOR

Essential Competencies

Introduction: Architectural Conservators work at historic and prehistoric sites in parks, in Systems Support Offices (Regional Offices), in Cultural Preservation Centers, in National Program Centers, and, through agreement, at other public or private sites. The interdisciplinary professional provides expertise accumulated through education and experience in the preservation, conservation, and maintenance of historic structures and ruins. The architectural conservator is a "preservation technologist who attempts to combine the perspective of an architectural historian with the overall approach of an architect and the scientific focus of the conservator (National Conservation Advisory Council, Report of the Study Committee on Architectural Conservation, Washington, DC, 1977, p 7).

The work of the architectural conservator is focused on the project, site, or given area where a conservation program is being considered, in progress, or being assessed. The conservator is a member of a team of cultural resource management professionals within the National Park Service that focuses on the preservation of historic structures (including buildings, engineering structures, monuments, rock art sites, constructed elements at sites, and ruins) and conservation of fabric from which these structures are made. This fabric will be referred to as "fabric" or "architectural fabric" in this document.

The essential skills of the architectural conservator are the following:

Ability to identify, read, and comprehend the character, integrity, and significance of the site, structure, ruin, architectural element, and/or its fabric;

Ability to research and interpret primary and secondary source materials that pertain to the site, structure, ruin, element or its fabric, and that provide a context for its significance, evolution, or alterations that may affect its current conditions;

Knowledge of basic architectural history with the ability to recognize regional differences and stylistic influences that may affect fabric treatment or general construction;

Knowledge of and ability to diagnose, document, and interpret information obtained from assessments of existing conditions, pathology, current influences, and future impacts related to a site, structure, element and/or its fabric, or ruin retaining architectural significance that reflects integrity and heritage values;

Knowledge of and ability to recognize, document, and interpret physical evidence of earlier and present technologies used in the construction of a structure or in the manufacture of fabric incorporated in the structure or ruin;

Ability to employ an interdisciplinary approach with other preservation professionals, including architects, archeologists, landscape architects, collections professionals, other architectural conservators, engineers, exhibit specialists, and craftspeople, in order to treat a site or structure holistically;

Skill and knowledge to conduct laboratory analysis and testing;

Skill and knowledge to consult on or carry out field treatments to conserve materials for the purpose of extending the longevity and maintainability of a given site, structure, element and/or its fabric, or ruin;

Ability and skill to effectively communicate on specific preservation and conservation issues with professionals, administrators, and laymen;

Ability to make treatment recommendations that are based on established preservation principles;

Ability and skill to record, interpret, and write findings of research in a comprehensive format; and highest level or performance includes all aspects of the discipline and will entail NPS competency in supervision and program management.

Following is a list of the competencies and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to perform in this particular discipline at the Entry, Developmental, and Full Performance levels. The competencies are in boldface print and are followed by a brief definition. The definitions are then followed by a list of the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be effective at each level. The competencies and KSAs of the previous level(s) are also required at the next higher level.

ENTRY LEVEL (GS-1001)

Description: An Entry Level Architectural Conservator is able to assist in activities related to research and planning and to execute preservation and conservation projects through coordination of disciplines and by following principles of scientific methods of conservation, mainly dealing with materials. The task of the architectural conservator is to conserve historic materials with the highest authenticity possible and in a maintainable condition.

I. Discipline Knowledge

Serves as subject-matter professional and provides general information and knowledge about architectural conservation.

Professional knowledge, skill, and ability in understanding and applying the philosophy of preservation and with one or more conservation skills equivalent to or gained with professional certificates or degrees from recognized preservation and/or conservation programs at universities and colleges.

Ability to conduct primary and secondary research related to the individual site, historic structure, architectural element and/or its materials, or to the scientific aspect of needed or required treatments.

Knowledge of professional conservation practices and ability to implement these practices at a level equivalent to academic work at a graduate level, and ability to contribute to the expansion of existing practices and development of new methodologies.

Ability to interrelate with other professional disciplines in order to exchange insights and more fully understand the evolution of the site, historic structure, element and/or its material.

Ability to collaborate with other professional disciplines in order to share research and achieve more exacting scientific results for conservation treatments and analytical problems.

Knowledge of laboratory procedures and methodologies, basic lab chemistry, and scientific methods that relate to materials analysis, fabric deterioration, conservation treatments, materials identification, and monitoring programs.

Ability to maintain an active role in or with groups concerned primarily with preservation and conservation such as associations and organizations devoted to professional preservation and conservation issues.

II. Preservation Law, Philosophy, and Practice

Provides general information and knowledge on the identification, evaluation, documentation, and treatment of historic architectural resources requiring conservation treatment.

Knowledge of philosophy and fundamental principles of historic preservation, structure conservation, and professional conservation practices.

III. Research, Materials Analysis, and Documentation

Conducts basic research on architectural fragments or ruins and participates in projects and surveys of architectural resources.

Ability to conduct primary and secondary research relative to the history of a site, historic structure, element and/or its materials and to document the same.

Ability to conduct primary and secondary research necessary for the scientific study of specific project requirements.

Knowledge of proper sampling techniques for the purpose of gathering samples of materials for laboratory identification and/or analysis.

A. Documentation

Ability to document research findings that are included in or contribute to written reports such as site histories, materials analysis studies, or historic structure reports.

Ability to assist in establishing, maintaining, and developing records for treatment programs, sampling procedures, and testing programs that may include treatment histories, project histories, casual relationships, completion reports, or effects of repair campaigns.

Skill at different types of photography including video, 35 mm, and photomicroscopy.

Ability to assist in recording sites and field conditions in written and tabular formats that are assessments of conditions, material deterioration mechanisms, causes and effects, and recommendations for program development.

Ability to produce basic measured drawings.

IV. Preservation Treatment and Maintenance

Assists in planning and implementation of architectural conservation projects and provides technical assistance for park maintenance work.

Knowledge of basic materials science and methods of analysis for laboratory and field testing to evaluate composition, condition, deterioration mechanisms, performance, and treatment options for materials.

Strong knowledge of and ability to apply all materials and chemical safety standards (e.g., OSHA) during conservation practices.

V. Program and Project Management

Participates in architectural conservation projects and in multi-disciplinary cultural resource programs.

Ability to assist in developing scopes of work and/or task directives and budgets for projects that involve NPS personnel, contractors, and/or cooperators.

VI. Writing and Communication

Communicates and presents information on architectural conservation programs and projects to peers, supervisors, managers, and the public.

Ability to write reports, maintain records, and develop program statements that convey historical or technical information and that are comprehensive to professionals, managers, and laypersons.

Ability to assist in developing scopes of work and/or task directives for projects which are clear and concise in order to gain written approval from all involved parties.

Ability to assist in writing scientific and technical papers such as articles that contribute to the knowledge and understanding of preservationists and conservators.

VII. Training

Assists in conducting training on architectural conservation issues, projects, and programs.

Knowledge of national and international training programs to further expertise in architectural conservation including degree programs at universities, certificate programs at professional institutions, and training activities sponsored by professional groups.

DEVELOPMENTAL LEVEL (GS-1001)

Description: All previous requirements of the Entry Level position apply to this level. A mid-level developing architectural conservator is able to research, plan, and execute preservation and conservation projects through coordination of disciplines and by following principles of scientific methods of conservation, primarily dealing with materials. This performance level will assist in developing, managing, and overseeing research and field projects. The task of the architectural conservator is to conserve historic materials with the highest authenticity possible and in a maintainable condition.

I. Discipline Knowledge

Serves as subject-matter professional and provides technical information and knowledge about architectural conservation.

Ability to identify and conduct conservation procedures in situ or in the laboratory (as the project dictates), on one or more materials such as:

structural components (e.g., wood, metal, masonry)
construction materials (e.g., wood, stone, brick, metal, concrete, mortar, earthen materials)
surface treatments (e.g., plaster, stucco, terra cotta, masonry joints)
decorative finishes (e.g., paints and coatings, stenciling, wall paintings, gilding, wall coverings)
decorative elements (e.g., carved wood, molded paster, metal ceilings)

Ability to conduct conservation treatments on materials using one or more of the following: application of adhesives coatings, consolidants, and biocides; removal of deteriorated material, deteriorative mechanisms, and non-functioning or destructive earlier treatments; and replacement of missing materials when warranted.

Ability to develop and implement short-term preservation goals designed to realize long-term preservation strategies of a comprehensive nature, or to develop and implement long-term preservation strategies from the onset.

Ability to write specifications for contracting purposes; and to serve as the Contracting Officer's Technical Representative for architectural conservation projects.

Ability to be fully conversant in ethics issues that relate to architectural conservation practices particularly in relation to copyright and to professional codes when application of treatments may be controversial or potentially cause irreversible damage or effect.

II. Preservation Law, Philosophy, and Practice

Provides technical information and knowledge on the identification, evaluation, documentation, and treatment of historic architectural resources requiring conservation treatment.

Ability to apply the philosophy and fundamental principles of historic preservation and architectural conservation to project work, particularly with regard to the history and development of materials, conservation treatment technologies, and crafts skill development including tools and trade, and treatment histories.

Knowledge of and ability to understand and apply all NPS management and planning guidelines and laws including NPS-28: Cultural Resource Management Guideline, and NPS Management Policies.

Knowledge of and ability to interpret Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended.

Knowledge of and ability to interpret the Venice Charter and the American Institute for Conservation Code of Ethics.

Knowledge of fire protection systems and other environmental protection regarding lightning, flooding, animal and human intrusion, etc., for sites and historic structures.

Ability to maintain active working relationships with conservation peers inside and outside the government such as the Smithsonian Institution, the Institute of Science and Technology, the Getty Conservation Institute, the International Center for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, and the National Bureau of Standards, in order to maintain levels of competence in a rapidly changing field of knowledge.

III. Research, Materials Analysis, and Documentation

Conducts and/or reviews research on architectural fragments or ruins and participates in projects and surveys of architectural resources.

Ability to direct primary and secondary research necessary for the scientific study of specific project requirements.

Ability to develop laboratory analyses based on known scientific applications as well as to develop new methodologies for testing materials.

Ability to conduct inclusive sampling of materials for the purpose of laboratory identification and/or comparative dating.

Knowledge of and ability to access current research programs such as the Canadian Information Service, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the International Center for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property networks as well as institutions of higher learning where research is in progress.

Ability to analyze materials such as mortars, plasters, stuccos, paint, coatings, wall coverings, and soils and their component parts.

Ability to manage collections of artifacts for research purposes and to collect and manage field sampling programs in accordance with scientific principles.

A. Documentation

Ability to document and interpret research findings that are included in or contribute to written reports such as site histories, materials analysis studies, or historic structure reports.

Ability to establish, maintain, and develop records for treatment programs, sampling procedures, and testing programs that may include treatment histories, project histories, casual relationships, completion reports, or effects of repair campaigns.

Knowledge of and/or skill at different types of photography including video, 35 mm, 4 x 5 camera, photogrammetry, boroscopy, X-ray, and photomicroscopy.

Ability to record sites and field conditions in written or tabular formats that are complete assessments of site conditions, materials deterioration mechanisms, causes and effects, and recommendations for program development.

Ability to produce thorough and complete measured drawings, either through computer-aided drafting or mechanical drafting.

IV. Preservation Treatment and Maintenance

Plans and implements architectural conservation projects and provides technical assistance for park maintenance work.

Ability to treat materials associated with a site, historic structure, and/or architectural element in situ for the sole purpose of conserving the element in its existing form so it may retain its highest integrity and thus authentic interpretability.

Knowledge of and ability to determine when materials require removal and transportation to the laboratory for treatment, and ability to transport that material with the least amount of damage.

Knowledge of contemporary conservation treatments (methods and materials), when their application is required, and the technologies relating to their applications, such as cleaning, coatings (i.e., repellents), consolidation, adhesion or readhesion, biocides, and temporary reversible stabilizations.

Knowledge of the history and evolution of materials including their technologies, as well as historic conservation treatments (methods and materials) of such materials and how they contribute to present conditions.

Knowledge of ability to apply permanent and temporary conservation treatments prior to the necessary moving or relocation of material that is destined for a repository, a temporary location such as a laboratory, a museum, or to be restored to its original location.

Ability to apply results of materials analysis in specifying preservation or conservation treatments.

Knowledge of the contributions of the scientific community and ability to work within that community to research problems, resolve technical issues, and consult on materials science issues.

Knowledge of and ability to conduct full testing programs in accordance with standard practice (e.g., ASTM [American Society for Testing and Materials] and other national and international standards organizations such as RILEM [Réunion Internationale des Laboratoires D'ssais de Matériaux], BSI [British Standard Institution], and NORMAL [Normativa Manufatti Lapidei], and conservation lab practices) on materials such as porous building materials, earthen building materials, stone, brick, mortars and cements, surfaces, renderings, mosaics, paint, wallpaper, and wood, etc.

In depth knowledge of and ability to apply all material and safety programs and chemical safety standards integral to conservation practice including the ability to provide safety training for projects and activities.

Ability to initiate pilot treatment programs following laboratory work that serves as models for implementation, test walls, and testing application systems.

V. Program and Project Management

Plans, coordinates, and participates in architectural conservation projects and in multi-disciplinary cultural resource programs.

Ability to develop and produce scopes of work and/or task directives and budgets for projects that involve NPS personnel, contractors, and/or cooperators.

Ability to plan and coordinate regulatory requirements in order to expedite and meet compliance approval.

Knowledge of and ability to apply Contracting Officer's Technical Representative and contract law procedures, purchasing regulations, small business, sole source, budgeting, and change orders in the form of small contract obligations or major large contracts.

Sound knowledge of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and agreements with state officers of Historic Preservation relating to preservation activities in National Parks and ability to advise management of laws and the effects of the regulation on specific activities.

VI. Writing and Communication

Presents information on architectural conservation topics, issues, and programs in oral and written form to NPS managers, peers, other professionals, and the public.

Ability to develop scopes of work and/or task directives for projects that are clear and concise in order to gain written approval from all involved parties.

Ability to write and publish scientific and technical material such as articles that contribute to the knowledge, understanding, and the continuity of ongoing research and developmental field work by preservationists and conservator

Skill at public speaking and communication to a variety of audiences in order to communicate the nature and substance of programs and scientific studies in order to raise public awareness of pertinent preservation and conservation issues.

Ability to write documents on the level of Historic Structure Reports to provide parks with documentation for essential historical analysis.

VII. Training

Presents training on architectural conservation topics and techniques and on preservation history, law, policies, and guidelines.

Ability to provide training in lab testing programs and specific lab tests such as mortar testing, paint analysis, wallpaper analysis, soils analysis, and basic microscopy.

Ability to provide training in field environments focusing on specific techniques of field conservation testing and treatment, such as architectural surfaces, consolidating stone, application of water repellent to masonry surfaces, conserving integral surface coatings, and implementing emergency measures to temporarily preserve surfaces and structures.

FULL PERFORMANCE (GS-1001)

Description: All previous requirements of the Entry and Developmental Levels apply to this performance level. The Full Performance architectural conservator is able to research, plan, develop, manage, oversee, and execute preservation and conservation projects through coordination of disciplines and by

following principles of scientific methods of conservation, mainly dealing with materials. The task of the architectural conservator is to conserve historic materials with the highest authenticity possible and in a maintainable condition.

I. Discipline Knowledge

Serves as subject-matter expert and develops and provides technical information and knowledge about architectural conservation.

Ability to direct conservation procedures in situ or in the laboratory (as the project dictates), on one or more materials such as:

structural components (e.g., wood, metal, masonry)
construction materials (e.g., wood, stone, brick, metal, concrete, mortar, earthen materials)
surface treatments (e.g, plaster, stucco, terra cotta, masonry joints)
decorative finishes (e.g., paints and coatings, stenciling, wall paintings, gilding, wall coverings)
decorative elements (e.g., carved wood, molded plaster, metal ceilings)

Ability to direct conservation treatments on materials using one or more of the following: application of adhesives, coatings, consolidants and biocides; removal of the deteriorated material, deterioration mechanisms, and non-functioning or destructive earlier treatments; and replacement of missing materials when warranted.

Ability to manage or consult on complex field conservation projects in a well balanced manner reflecting coordination with multi-disciplinary groups and the ability to utilize input from these diverse influences.

Knowledge of and ability to manage field conservation programs directed towards temporary and permanent conservation.

II. Preservation Law, Philosophy, and Practice

Provides professional direction on architectural conservation practice and standards as they relate to historic and/or prehistoric structures in the NPS.

Ability to manage the application of the philosophy and fundamental principles of historic preservation with regard to advising upper level management of appropriate options relating to actions affecting cultural resources.

III. Research, Materials Analysis, and Documentation

Develops and directs research programs related to architectural conservation.

Ability to direct research programs focused on developmental approaches that not only solve site-specific conservation problems, but also address contemporary long-range regional, multi-regional, national, or international preservation and/or conservation issues.

Ability to develop comprehensive testing programs aligned with the American Society for Testing and Materials and other national and international standards organizations such as the Réunion Internationale des Laboratoires D'ssais de Matériaux (RILEM), the British Standard Institution (BSI), and Normativa Manufatti Lapidei (NORMAL), and scientific principles of conservation focused on materials analysis, treatment analysis, test wall applications, field monitoring programs, pilot installations, and repair programs.

IV. Preservation Treatment and Maintenance

Supervises planning and implementation of architectural conservation projects and provides expert advice and assistance for park maintenance work.

Knowledge of and ability to conduct or direct full testing programs in accordance with standard practice (e.g., ASTM, [American Society of Testing and Materials] and other national and international standards organizations such as RILEM [Réunion Internationale des Laboratoires D'ssais de Matériaux], BSI [British Standard Institution], and NORMAL [Normativa Manufatti Lapidei], and conservation lab practices) on materials, stone, brick, mortar, mortars and cements, surfaces, renderings, mosaics, paint, wallpaper, wood, etc.

Ability to initiate pilot treatment programs following laboratory work which serve as models for implementation, test walls, and testing application systems.

Ability to manage and direct a full safety program which covers the application of all OSHA, EPA, and industry standards and guidelines as well as laboratory safety procedures relating to the use and handling of hazardous chemicals and wastes.

V. Program and Project Management

Develops and manages multi-disciplinary research and field projects, ensuring that cultural resource concerns are addressed at the appropriate time in all projects.

Ability to manage, coordinate, and supervise research and field projects which include conceptualization, planning, actualization, compilation, and follow-up of project development.

Ability to deal effectively with field changes while managing field projects.

Ability to develop programs incorporating long-term research initiatives with programmatic and specific goals.

Ability to formulate and manage cooperative agreements for the purpose of partnering with professional groups in the field of conservation, including primary goals of research and training.

Knowledge of the NPS planning process to incorporate architectural conservation objectives into site-specific and realizable field-applied programs such as general management plans or cultural resource management plans, and to incorporate long-term planning initiatives into regional, national, and international initiatives.

VI. Writing and Communication

Presents information on cultural resource issues, specifically those related to architectural conservation, in oral and written form, to park managers, peers, other professionals, and the public.

Ability to write and manage the production Historic Structure Reports and equivalent substantial research and management documents for the purpose of directing cultural resource preservation approaches and activities.

VII. Training

Develops and presents training on architectural conservation topics and techniques and on preservation history, law, policies, and guidelines.

Skilled at all training techniques and methods including on-the-job training, presentations, didactic exercises, traditional academic methods, audio-visual, hands on, and mentoring.

Ability to identify training deficiencies of employees and to target systems or approaches for employee development.

National Park Service
Training and Development Division
Essential Competencies
archcons.htm

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