The Historic American Buildings Survey--80 Years of Preservation

Kentucky School for the Blind, Louisville (Photograph by Theodore Webb, March 1934)

Established in 1933 as a work relief program for architects who were unemployed during the Depression, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) is the federal government’s oldest historic preservation program. Operating under a cooperative agreement between the National Park Service, the Library of Congress, and the American Institute of Architects, the HABS program produces architectural measured drawings, large format photographs, and historical reports, comprising one of the world’s largest architectural archives.

The lecture will provide an overview of the history of the HABS program, including the oversight role of the AIA. The presentation will include a discussion of the HABS standards for the documentation of historic structures and buildings, as well as the HABS methodology for recording historic buildings. Recent technological developments in the science of building documentation (such as 3-D laser scanning and digital photogrammetry) will be presented, and illustrated with a number of case studies.

Organized by: AIA|DC Public Architects Committee

Presented by: Mark Schara, AIA


After attending this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the oversight role of the AIA regarding the HABS program;
  • Summarize the HABS standards;
  • Explain the HABS methodology of building documentation; and
  • Apply new technologies in building documentation to specific circumstances.