NYU Architecture - Project Management Plan

Project Management Plan:

Given that the purpose for digitalizing the Roberto NYU architecture documents is to create a public history website detailing NYU’s expansions in the 1960’s and its impact of the surrounding community, it is necessary before beginning this project to be in close contact with both NYU and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Close contact with NYU is essential for obvious copyright issues but also access to NYU resources, such as a possible knowledgeable University archivist on the topic, server storage space for scanned items, advertisement or weblinks through an existing NYU site, the possibility for a physical exhibition on-campus to generate interest, and potential funding. It is also desirable to involve the GVSHP in order to present a more balanced history of the Washington Square campus, involve another potential organization for funding and/or consultation, as well as gain access to other historical documents that may be useful for scanning and online presentation. Only taking advantage of NYU resources would not only make the project of limited interest to the general public and Greenwich Village in particular, but could also potentially alienate and draw considerable criticism from a valuable organization.

The greatest current challenge to the project is the size, scope and content of the Roberto documents. The collection currently consists of over 30 boxes which does not take into account oversize materials such as blueprints and photographs. In addition many photographs have been removed from the Roberto collection and filed in subject photograph files. Before any planning of the actual website can take place it is essential that one to two student workers or interns gain intellectual control over the subject matter. This phase is critical to determine exactly what documents exist in the collection, what further research/gathering of materials from outside collections needs to be done, and possible obstacles that will take place in the scanning and digitalization of selected documents. This phase is also critical to gain more refined mission for creating a site that is more public history/information than only providing online access to these documents. It is expected that this process could take a normal semester with a student putting in approximately 10 per week (120 hours over the semester). However, this stage is obviously crucial to the success of the project so it is also desirable that the project manager would be in close supervision of the process.

After intellectual control of the materials is gained it is necessary that a project mission statement is developed that both satisfies NYU and the GVSHP. While this will most likely be challenging to involve both organizations, it will also be beneficial once the site is established to generate publicity and draw from a larger pool of potential users of the site. It is the hope that during the semester of scanning through the Roberto collection, certain documents will also be flagged as potentials for digitalization. The general selection policy states it is expected that these materials will be comprised of maps, blueprints, photographs, correspondence from the 1960s era. In addition specific structures will need to be highlighted such as Bobst Library or the Warren Weaver Center, etc. to provide a tighter focus to the site. In this way not only will the project be able to present the larger process of NYU expansion in Greenwich Village, but at the same time provide interesting information on some of NYU’s more historically and architecturally significant structures.

After documents have been selected (in the range of 500-600) the next phase will be to scan the desired images. All selected images will be scanned at 600 dpi and saved in tiff format for maximum clarity. Titles will be given with the name of the building first and then a short description (ex. Bobst Library - construction, etc.) Because this digital collection will consist of more than just photographs or texts it will be important to categorize the documents according to their size, medium, and physical condition. It is expected that most scanning will be done through NYU, specifically those documents that are good condition and are not oversized. This categorization process and well as the scanning could most likely be done by a student worker or intern, however it again will be critical that the project manager closely supervise this process. For oversized materials such as blueprints most likely an outside company will have to be contracted. Currently the Roberto collection is comprised of approximately 25% oversized materials and it is possible that as many as 50% of the final digital project will be comprised of these documents. It will be desirable when possible to avoid documents that are in less than ideal condition simply because the goal of the project is not necessarily to provide online access to the Roberto collection, but rather to serve a public history purpose and an online forum to stimulate current conversation about the relationship between further NYU expansion and Greenwich Village.

The next phase in this project after document selection and scanning will be layout and design. This is perhaps the most critical phase of the project as easy access and navigability of the site will determine the overall success of the project. Dividing the documents by genre will not suffice in this case nor will date, given the mission statement of the project. Due to the abundance and quality of maps and blueprints of the Washington Square campus, a site map based on that of an existing map within the Roberto collection could serve as a very nice homepage. Users could then click on individual buildings on the actual map to access written text (by the project manager and 1 other hired employee) accompanied by several pertinent documents. For example several pictures (construction, completed in the 1960s, and today), related correspondence, blueprints, newspaper clippings, and other possible documents related to the site before NYU construction. The end result would be a series of links (accessible) through the map or blueprint that would provide a variety of fun and factual information without necessarily directly confronting heated debates about current NYU expansion. While the project would like to make that link to present, the goal of the site is provide background history in order to better analyze past actions and their impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

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