An appreciation of earth as a viable and appropriate building material has developed as a consequence of a series of international meetings that began in 1972. The purpose of the 6th International Conference on the Conservation of Earthen Architecture, like those that preceded it, was to promote efforts aimed at preserving earthen architecture.

Informally dubbed "Adobe 90" in recognition of the importance of earth as a building material in the Americas—and, in particular, in the American Southwest—the event served as a forum for the exchange of ideas, methods, techniques, and research findings among scientists and practitioners specializing in the preservation of earthen architecture. Under the aegis of US/ICOMOS, the conference was sponsored by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), the Museum of New Mexico State Monuments, ICCROM, CRATerre-EAG, and the U.S. National Park Service. The conference in Las Cruces was, at the time, the most comprehensive on the subject ever held, and the most widely attended, with approximately 300 delegates from over 30 countries.

Presentations at the conference addressed a variety of subjects including the historic traditions of earthen architecture, conservation and restoration, site preservation, studies in consolidation and seismic mitigation, and examinations of moisture problems, clay chemistry, and microstructures. In discussions that focused on the future of this ancient building material, the application of modern technologies and materials to site conservation was urged, as was the use of scientific knowledge of existing structures in the creation of low-cost earthen housing. The conference contributed to an appreciation of the continuity between ancient usage of earth as a building material and its continued importance in contemporary communities in which communal maintenance of earthen structures often fosters cohesiveness and cultural identity.

Conference participants had the opportunity to visit Fort Selden, a U.S. military post near Las Cruces abandoned in 1891 and the site of a GCI field project on Adobe Consolidation conducted in collaboration with the Museum of New Mexico State Monuments. Begun in 1987, the project assessed the effectiveness of modern chemical consolidants and other protective measures on adobe.

The GCI published the 6th International Conference on the Conservation of Earthen Architecture: Adobe Conference Preprints that examined topics such as history, seismic mitigation, clay chemistry, microstructure, and the stabilization and restoration of earthen structures.