25 Jul A Conversation With The Assistant Secretary For Fish And Wildlife And Parks – Hillary Morales Robles
Hello everyone! Last week I had an incredible experience and opportunity to meet the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Shannon A. Estenoz, and share the project I’ve been developing over the summer for the documentation and recording of the General Simón Bolívar Memorial. My work includes field sketches, hand-measuring, digital measuring with GPS, total station, high-definition laser scans, and photogrammetry. These survey tools and techniques are utilized to produce highly accurate drawings of the monument and park.
For the presentation, we met at the library of the Department of the Interior Headquarters. First, we laid out full-size copies of the measured drawings of the park and statue, including the poster for the final Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP) workshop in August. Then, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) architect and supervisor Robert Arzola introduced and talked about the program’s significant contribution in documenting historic sites around the country and LHIP as a platform for young Latin American professionals to acquire expertise in the field of heritage conservation. Next, the Assistant Secretary asked questions about my future career goals in Architecture and Historic Preservation and share insights based on her experience as a civil engineer. Also, she asked for more details about my training and skill set acquired in academic settings, previous work experiences, and throughout my internship over the summer. That includes the technological equipment and software utilized at each stage of the survey process. Finally, I showed an additional short video of an aerial animation of the point cloud data that captures the whole site of the General Simón Bolívar Memorial.
After the presentation, we walked over to the park, and I highlighted the main details we had noticed while conducting the fieldwork and drawings. Also, I discussed the landscape change over time based on historical photographs I found through my research for the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) historical report collected from the HABS collection in the Library of Congress database. The principal observation was the existing condition of the vegetation does not portray the intention of the original design and the architects’ vision of a Modernist landscape with clean geometric lines. Our findings and observation of the historic site made the Assistant Secretary comment on the present condition of the park, especially making an emphasis in the implementation of better maintenance since its located at the main entrance of the Department of the Interior. Also, she noticed the site does not have interpretative signage that showcases the significance of the memorial and the potentials to reach out to the NPS, partners, and get funding opportunities for the landscape architecture restoration.
At the end of our conversation and walking on the site with Shannon, I realized and confirmed how important the role of Preservation Architects are as stewards in Heritage Conservation. Our training allows us to keep a record of historic sites alive for the enjoyment of future generations. We also reflected in need for more Latin American women representation in a field that is still mainly driven by men and non-Latin American professionals. I want to thank Shannon and the Department of the Interior for their interest in the project. The highlight of the project and my work helps to create visibility of underrepresented voices and narratives. Finally, I feel endless gratitude to my supervisors Robert Arzola and Paul Davidson, architects of the Historic American Buildings Survey, for their trust in my professional capacity and provide guidance throughout the internship. Their trust in completing an entire project, from the survey, data processing, drawings, written historical report, and present the results, is rare and a blessing to experience at the early stages of my career. I’m going to leave this internship with my heart full of joy, purpose, and drive to become part of the next generation of conservation stewards. Agradecida siempre, Hillary.