“Fort Proctor” Named 2013 Architectural Research Centers Consortium Best Conference Paper

Fort Proctor

Fort Proctor

The Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC) Board of Directors has named “Fort Proctor: A Conditional Preservation” as the best paper at the 2013 ARCC Conference at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The paper was written by LSU School of Architecture A. Hays Town Professor Ursula Emery McClure and Associate Professor and Director of the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture Bradley Cantrell and was based upon multi-disciplinary research funded by grants from the Coastal Sustainability Studio and the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS).

Fort Proctor was selected as the research site because of its extreme environmental risk and historical significance. The fort has remained a static marker in a fluctuating landscape, recording major ecological changes within the Gulf Coast environment.

The research team collected data from the physical site, geographical condition surveys, material analyses, photogrammetric and photographic documentation, and GIS mapping and developed animations that visualize the appearance and landscape of Fort Proctor over time, with overlaying analytical data and historical facts.

Fort Proctor is located on the shore of Lake Borgne, a lagoon in eastern Louisiana that is actually no longer a lake but rather an arm of the Gulf of Mexico due to coastal erosion. The fort was built in the 1850s to protect water routes to New Orleans but was abandoned after the American Civil War. The site is now completely surrounded by water and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The research team’s “digital shorts” determine the unavoidable loss of both the fort and the landscape over time. Ultimately, the team’s documentation provides a permanent archive—or “conditional preservation”—of the structure, contributing to the legacy record of Louisiana’s coastal built environment and the United States system of coastal defense fortifications and establishing a new procedure for preserving sites at extreme environmental risk.

“As the world’s global environment continues to shift, more and more preservation sites will face similar dilemmas,” stated McClure and Cantrell in their winning paper. They argue that environmental risk does not preclude preservation, however, but instead changes the methods and results of the preservation.

ARCC President Keith Diaz Moore said, “The board found the time-based animations to express progressive, applied historical research that provocatively linked practice, research, and advocacy. We congratulate your collaboration on such a successful project.”

The Fort Proctor project began in the fall of 2011 and was finalized in January 2013. McClure presented the paper at the ARCC Conference in April 2013.

Two student research teams, each supervised by one principal investigator, worked collaboratively throughout the one-year grant period while retaining distinct research goals. Both teams collaborated with consultants in mathematics, preservation technologies, coastal studies, and civil engineering. LSU faculty and graduate students who worked on the Fort Proctor project teams with McClure and Cantrell included:

  • Michele Barbato, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering
  • Bogdan Oporowski, professor of mathematics
  • Ben Buehrle, Master of Architecture candidate
  • Taylor Alphonso, Master of Architecture candidate
  • Audrey Cropp, Master of Landscape Architecture candidate
  • Clair Hu, graduate candidate in engineering

The Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC) Best Paper/Presentation Award is selected from the more than 100 papers and presentations at an annual ARCC Architectural Research Conference. The board of directors review the limited number of papers nominated from the conference, and special recognition is given to one or more of these papers as the best of the conference.

About Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC)
The Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC) is an international association of architectural research centers committed to the expansion of the research culture and supporting infrastructure in architecture and related design disciplines. Since its founding as a nonprofit organization in 1976, ARCC has represented a concerted commitment to the improvement of the physical environment and the quality of life. Visit for more information.

About the LSU School of Architecture Graduate Program
The LSU School of Architecture Graduate Program focuses on engaging students and faculty who share interests in design and the built environment. The backbone of the Master of Architecture program is the Design Studio, where students engage in the design education process. The graduate program integrates innovative design with technical, social, and practical concerns to address complex global conditions. Courses and studios focused on history, theory, sustainability, digital media, and community design provide the knowledge to concentrate on solving real-life problems in the built environment. Studio projects focus on spatial design, Louisiana coastal issues, and community design efforts. For more information, visit

About LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture Graduate Program
The LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture Graduate Program is well established and graduates routinely find jobs in design and planning firms, government agencies, and community-based organizations throughout American and abroad. The graduate curriculum is design oriented with opportunities for involvement in issues that range from those of relevance to the Gulf Coast region to those of international importance. The faculty’s diverse professional and research interests are frequently integrated into the learning experience. For more information, visit

Angela Harwood
LSU College of Art + Design
102 Design Building
Baton Rouge, LA 70803