Treatments > Architectural Conservation Assessment > The Process of Architectural Investigation >

Discovery of frass from power-post beetles, which have destroyed woodwork.

Architectural Evidence: Studying the Fabric of the Historic Building

Surface Mapping

The first step in a thorough, systematic investigation is the examination of all surfaces. Surface investigation is sometimes called "surface mapping" since it entails a minute look at all the exterior and interior surfaces. The fourfold purpose of surface mapping is to:

  1. observe every visible detail of design and construction;
  2. develop questions related to evidence and possible alterations;
  3. note structural or environmental problems; and
  4. help develop plans for any further investigation.

Following investigation, a set of documentary drawings and photographs is prepared which record or "map" the evidence.

While relying upon senses of sight and touch, the most useful tool for examining surfaces is a high-powered, portable light used for illuminating dark spaces as well as for enhancing surface subtleties. Raking light at an angle on a flat surface is one of the most effective means of seeing evidence of attachments, repairs or alterations.