This international colloquium was organized jointly by the Fondo de Salvamento del Patrimonio Cultural of the Municipality of Quito; Fundacion Caspicara, a foundation established in Quito to preserve the artistic national heritage of Ecuador; and the Getty Conservation Institute. The colloquium was an outgrowth, in part, of the GCI's Quito project, which included a number of activities designed to preserve the city's historic colonial center, a World Heritage site.

Founded in 1534 on the site of an ancient Inca settlement, Quito contains a wealth of religious architecture and sculpture as well as centuries-old private residences and municipal buildings. Ringed by high-peaked volcanoes, Quito has an active and destructive seismic history, during which many churches and other edifices dating from the early colonial period have been affected.

The purpose of the colloquium was to review seismic stabilization of historic buildings and monuments. During the colloquium, some twenty international and Ecuadorian experts exchanged information and experience on theories, principles, methods, norms, and technologies of seismic stabilization and retrofit. Architects and engineers focused on possible actions to be taken by conservationists and engineers prior to the occurrence of earthquakes; proper procedures following an earthquake; response of different structural forms to vibrations transmitted from the ground; investigation and analysis of existing historic buildings; modalities of intervention; materials for retrofit and strengthening; and methodological principles and criteria for restoration of the cultural heritage.

Presentations and discussion brought up many issues and concerns including earthquake emergency response policy; contingency planning; ethics of structural interventions and social, technical and financial constraints; the importance of multidisciplinary teams, including earthquake design engineers, conservation architects, and historians; the need to establish correct design criteria, including peak ground acceleration, intensity, hazard, and local soil information; and the selection of appropriate materials that combine adequate safety with minimal visual impact.

Related articles in Conservation, the GCI Newsletter