FACADE project aims to “future-proof” digital architectural files

Posted June 14th, 2007 by Heather Denny

MIT’s Stata Center, Photo by Andy Ryan

Photo of MIT’s Stata Center by Andy Ryan

A $724,415 grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has been awarded to the MIT Libraries to address the challenge of preserving digital Computer-Aided Design (CAD) files.

CAD has revolutionized the architectural industry, giving architects the ability to create astounding three-dimensional models.  However CAD models exist only in proprietary digital formats that are ever-changing and short-lived, making them difficult to preserve and manage over time.  Using the designs of renowned architect Frank Gehry and his work on MIT’s Stata Center as a test bed, the FACADE (Future-proofing Architectural Computer-Aided Design) project will study CAD architectural documents and create preservation strategies to stem their potential loss.

Over the next two years the MIT Libraries’ Digital Libraries Research Group (DLRG) will work with MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning to research the primary software products (such as CATIA®, AutoCAD® and Microstation®) that produce architectural CAD models. With the guidance of former dean of the School of Architecture and Planning Bill Mitchell, the researchers will examine the role of CAD files in the life cycle of modern architecture and building construction including the entire digital and paper trail from early designs and sketches to internal communications regarding onsite revisions. They will seek strategies for long-term preservation of this material and also investigate the optimal use of digital preservation archives, such as the DSpace digital repository system, to provide open-source solutions.

Read the full article in BiblioTech (pages 8-9)
Visit the FACADE project web page

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