The Cleo and James Marston Fitch Thesis Grant was established in 2001 through an endowment by the estate of James Marston Fitch (1909-2000). It is given annually to a Columbia University Historic Preservation student to cover expenses incurred during research for their Master’s thesis.

2022 Grant Recipient

Preme Chayatham “And There was Light: the use of projection mapping for historic preservation”


Projection mapping is a technology that allows us to change the environment without physically altering it. Although it has been widely employed in the entertainment sector, its use in the field of cultural heritage preservation has been limited. With no physical contact and complete reversibility, this technology should be more widely used in the preservation field. Despite a few precedent cases, it was confined to large institutions. As the technology has become increasingly accessible, it allows small and underfunded institutions, such as house museums, to employ it.

Physical restoration can be expensive, or sometimes impossible, and beyond the means of smaller institutions. As an interpretative tool, it enables these places to show their history, attract visitors, and provide interpretation in a novel way. As a new tool, it has the potential to enable a site to be interpreted for several periods of time. Its non-invasive, non-contact, and reversible manner distinguishes it from physical interpretation, which may require the removal of materials. This allows us to temporarily and visually change the space into different time periods without requiring physical intervention allowing the space to remain in its current condition as a living document.

Projection mapping has enormous potential but it is a little known technology. To begin promoting projection mapping, variables will need to be considered such as cost, size, calibration, and space limitations. The challenge of how to incorporate new technology without disrupting the historical environment as well as its implementation and maintenance need to be considered. These are issues that must be acknowledged before we can fully include this technology into our toolkit.

This thesis attempts to establish a framework to begin the use of this technology that is beneficial to the preservation of cultural assets and can be extensively adopted. It will involve literature research, case study analysis, on-site application and evaluation. I hope that this framework will clarify its potential, problems, and limits and will spark ideas for incorporating it into our interpretative toolboxes and advancing the discipline of preservation. 

Past Fitch Grant Recipients


Tucker Simmons, “Testing Protective Coatings and their Removal for Outdoor Bronze Statuary”


Sarah Sargent, “Reclaiming the Fugitive Dust: Preserving and Interpreting America’s Forgotten History of Nuclear Contamination”


Shivali Gaikwad, “Living with Water: Adaptation Processes, Heritage Conservation and Conflicting Values”


Tonia Sing Chi, “Building Reciprocity: A Grounded Theory of Participation in Native American Housing and the Perpetuation of Earthen Architectural Traditions”


Cheng Liao, “Rethinking the Vernacular in China: Understanding the Dynamics of Social Transformation and the Evolution of Rural Architecture”


Alberto Sanchez-Sanchez, “Behind the Ecce Homo: Rural Development Policy and the Effects of Depopulation on the Preservation of Spanish Heritage”


Laura Groves, “Is there a Role for Preservation in a Favela?”


Emily Barr, “Pressing Issues: In-Kind Terra Cotta Replacement in the 21st Century”


Myun Song, “Wireless Sensing for Reinforced Concrete Structures and Concrete Repair”


Lorena Pérez Leighton, “1930s American Steel Houses: Modern Artifact or Traditional Dwelling?”


Susan Shay, “Cultural Landscape as Foil in Political Struggle”


Christine Huh, “The Bush Terminal Model Lofts and Early Reinforced Concrete Buildings on Brooklyn’s Waterfront; Their Significance as Industrial Heritage”


Susie Jackson, “Natural Extractives as Wood Preservatives”


Takushi Yoshida, “Machine Aesthetics in Architecture: Adaptive-reuse of Grain Elevators in Buffalo as an Industrial Landscape”


Deborah Baldwin van Steen, “The Architecture of Calvin Pollard (1797-1850)”


Michael Caratzas, “Cross-Bronx: Preserving a Significant Urban Expressway and Its Megastructure”


Preme Chaiyatham for And There was Light: the use of projection mapping for historic preservation

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