Class readings for the third week dealt much more with the practical than the theoretical. The essays of Invitation to Vernacular Architecture described methods of carrying out an architectural survey and points of discussion ranged from how to decide on target buildings to measurement techniques and methods of recording and presenting the resulting data.
Elaborating on the concepts of type and style, the authors presented a variety of factors to consider in balancing interpretations of building forms and functions. Various types of documents, both primary and secondary, were described, along with comments about their relative strengths in providing further background support for an analysis of the investigation's findings.
An in-depth study of a single building produces a significant amount of detailed information about the building's owners over time. A wider, but more superficial, study of a group of structures results in a variety of findings that can be broadly interpreted to generate analysis at a regional level. Chapter 15 of Gender, Class and Shelter provides a regional-level interpretation of the frequency and distribution of stone houses in the southwestern section of Pennsylvania.
It's clear that a great deal can be interpreted from the data resulting from a carefully designed and executed architectural investigation. A thorough investigation will include as much detail as is feasible. Even if all the information is not of immediate use, it may well combine with other studies to provide a sturdier foundation for future analysis and interpretation.
There is a certain fascination with historic structures that makes them quite appealing as subjects for architectural investigation. With our ever-increasing culture of renovation and remodeling, though, it becomes even more important to record the details of modern vernacular structures in their original forms. This sort of background information will be invaluable to future investigators, allowing cultural comparisons across both time and space.