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How can we apply cutting-edge technology to the traditional practices of historic preservation? Can we recreate a building that has been demolished for almost twenty years? Is such an endeavor worth the trouble—does a building that only exists in the memory of some people have any meaning for people who don’t know it ever existed?
This project seeks to answer these questions through the use of research and the creation of an installation. I am using the Syria Mosque as a case study to look at significant structures in Pittsburgh that have long since been destroyed but have a lasting memory and influence on the city. This installation uses QR codes placed around the site where the Syria Mosque once stood (now a parking lot at the corner of Fifth Ave and Bigelow Blvd.). QR codes are barcodes that, when read by a cell phone camera, reveal a website link, audio clip, or image. The QR codes are linked to archival images of the building and recordings made by the many famous groups that played in this historic music venue. The locations of the images are matched to the points where the codes are placed. The QR codes can only be read by Smartphones; this project will intentionally be focused on attracting the attention of young professionals and students in Oakland—people who would not know that the parking lot they are passing by was once home to an eclectic piece of architecture and a spectacular center of culture. I hope that this project creates some interest in historic preservation among the people who will interact with it. I also hope this project will join in a larger dialogue about how new technology and social media can be applied to the art and science of preservation.

Interactive map of QR locations

Contact me at slavery@andrew.cmu.edu

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