SPQR-ND: interpreting the Roman Forum through early architectural publications

SPQR-ND: Interpreting the Roman Forum Through Early Architectural Publications

Speaker: Viveca Pattison Robichaud

Abstract: The University of Notre Dame’s Architecture Library, School of Architecture, and the Center for Digital Scholarship developed the SPQR-ND iPad Application which is now freely available for download in the iPad App Store.

This project started because of student desire to access the rare and antique architectural publications from our Ryan Rare Book Room that include plans, sections, and elevations of important buildings and monuments in the historic city center of Rome while studying in Rome during their third year and grew into a new model to study historic structures.

The Architecture Library’s rare book collection houses many important publications that document the historic city center of Rome and the Roman Forum including Andrea Palladio’s I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura (1570), Antoine Babuty Desgodets’ Les Édifices Antiques de Rome, Dessinés et Mesurés Très Exactement (1682), Domenico de’ Rossi’s Stvdio d’Architettvra Civile (1702-1721), Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Varie Vedute di Roma (1748), and George Ledwell Taylor and Edward Cresy’s The Architectural Antiquities of Rome (1874). These texts, among others, were digitized and made available in full-text searchable PDF format on the Architecture Library’s website under “Digitized Rare Books” (http://library.nd.edu/architecture/ DigitizedRareBooks.shtml).

While this solved the problem of providing access to these rare volumes to our students abroad, we were interested in combining the historic methods of documenting and representing the built environment found in these texts with mapping and mobile applications as a way to bring the library into the field.

Our goal was to provide students, scholars, and the general public with the opportunity to study the monuments of the Roman Forum through this important collection of early architectural publications and create a unique way to visualize the development of Rome. With over 1,500 buildings and monuments digitized, we knew that we needed to start with a project that we could achieve and that could stand as a model to be expanded on and refined going forward, so we focused specifically on the Roman Forum. Architecture students who work in the library were involved with the process and plan and worked gathering, collecting and presenting the data while the team built a deliverable model. Based on a suggestions from the Dean of the School of Architecture we called our project SPQR-ND. Our project provides the fully digitized publications virtually broken apart in order to study different By Viveca Pattison Robichaud, University of Notre Dame

SPQR-ND Home Screen. SPQR-ND Map Homepage. SPQR-ND Layers, Nolli map layered on 2013 Satellite View. interpretations of particular monuments in the Forum sideby-side. The SPQR-ND app is designed to allow access to historic documentation of the monuments through either a map view or with a browsable list. Each monument entry contains a historic drawing and a current photograph, which the viewer can fade between, demonstrating the transition over time and showing the current state of the monument. Each of the historic plates is zoomable and each monument features multiple representations. Bibliographic information on each plate is given allowing the viewer to find the plate within the context of the original volume, either in-person or digitally from the Architecture Library’s website. Each monument in the SPQR-ND app is geolocated, which enables the user to understand not just their design but also their physical placement in the Forum through visualizing them on a map. The app also includes layers of historic maps of Rome. These maps, Giambattista Nolli’s 1748 map, Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s 1778 map, Taylor-Cresy’s 1874 map, a 2013 satellite map, and a hand drawn map of the Roman Forum by fourth year architecture student Michi Aman, are presented together as layers, which the viewer can fade through to see changes over time as represented by cartographers. The user is able to compare visually the different historic conceptions of the layout of Rome. This project started at the request of our students who study in Rome, and we have involved students in each phase of the process, from scanning the texts, virtually breaking apart the volumes to pull out the buildings and monuments, geolocating them in Rome, and creating content for the app. Students who work on the app are given attribution for their work within the app itself, and we have a waiting list of students interested in working for the Architecture Library because they want to work on these projects. Future plans for the SPQR-ND app include not only making it available on an iPhone, but also adding additional monuments and buildings within the center of Rome, translating the app into multiple languages, and developing a 3D viewer that will allow users to study highquality scanned data stitched together to create a virtual monument. For those interested in learning more about the SPQR-ND app, it will be presented in the Emerging Technologies Forum at the ARLIS/NA Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, this upcoming March. 


Viveca Pattison Robichaud


Speaker: Viveca Pattison Robichaud

Position: Special Collections Librarian

Architecture Library & Institute for Latino Studies
Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame
School of Architecture, 117 Bond Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
574/631.6018, (cell) 443/996.2228


Masters of Science in Library Science
The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., 2010
Concentration in Cultural Heritage Information Management

Masters of Liberal Arts
The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, 2009
Graduate Thesis entitled Magnificent Threads: The Role of Tapestries in the Aesthetic Culture of the Fifteenth Century Burgundian Court, supervised by Dr. Nancy Zinn, Walters Art Museum

Bachelors of Art
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, 2005
Western Society and Culture & Art History

Native English speaker; I have taken advanced university level French (reading, writing, and conversation); basic reading knowledge of Italian.

Special Collections Librarian (Assistant Librarian), Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame, Architecture Library and Institute for Latino Studies’ Julian Samora Library, July 2014 to present

Librarian and Archivist, Samora Library, Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, Academic Year, 2013 through 2014

Assistant Visiting Librarian, Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame, Institute for Latino Studies’ Julian Samora Library and Architecture Library, November 2012 through June 2013

Visiting Faculty Librarian, Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame, Architecture Library and Rare Books & Special Collections, November 2011 through October 2012

Practicum, George Peabody Library, Sheridan Libraries Special Collections, The Johns Hopkins University, Spring 2011

Practicum, The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, The Catholic University of America, Spring 2010

Administrative Coordinator, Johns Hopkins University, Film & Media Studies Program, Baltimore, Maryland, 2006 through 2011

Curatorial Intern, Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, New York, Summer 2004
William C. Bunce ARLIS/NA-Midstates Travel Award, 2013, to attend the ARLIS/NA Annual Conference in Pasadena, April 25-29, 2013

Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA)
2014 – present, Samuel H. Kress Foundation International Travel Award Grant, Task Force Member
2014 – present, Chair, Awards Committee
2012 – 2014, Chair, Travel Awards Sub-Committee
2011 – 2012, member, Travel Awards Sub-Committee
Art Libraries Society of North America – Midstates Chapter (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan)
2015 Vice Chair/Chair-Elect
2012 – present, member, Travel Awards Committee

“SPQR-ND: Interpreting the Roman Forum Through Early Architectural Publications”, ARLIS/NA Midstates Newsletter, Volume 8, Issue 2, Fall 2014, http://midstates.arlisna.org/MidNewsFall2014rev.pdf.

Review of Americans in Paris: Foundations of America’s Architectural Gilded Age: Architecture Students at the École des Beaux-Arts 1846-1946, by Jean Paul Carlhian and Margot M. Ellis. ARLIS/NA Reviews, January, 2015, http://arlisna.org/publications/reviews/508-americans-in-paris-foundations-of-america-s-architectural-gilded-age-architecture-students-at-the-ecole-des-beaux-arts-1846-1946.

“The Roman Forum and Beyond: Developing Mobile Applications to Study the Built Environment with Early Architectural Publications”, Emerging Technologies Forum, Art Libraries Society of North America 43rd Annual Conference, March 21, 2015, Fort Worth, Texas.

Parker, Jennifer and Viveca Robichaud. “Documenting a City’s Past, Present and Future: Or, how a university library can work with local civic entities to preserve and protect the built and planned environment”, Art Libraries Society of North America 42nd Annual conference, May 4, 2014, Washington, DC.

Robichaud, Viveca and Jennifer Parker. “The Seaside Research Portal and the Future of Archiving the Built Environment”, Art Libraries Society of North America 41st Annual Conference, April 25-29, 2013, Pasadena, CA.

Bolls, Madison, Cecilia Cho, Elizabeth Deegan, Elizabeth Dodson, Viveca Pattison, Jessica Sprigings, and Kevin Gunn. “Student as Teacher: creating LibGuides as a tool for professional development”, “Bridging the Spectrum” Symposium, Poster Session, February 25, 2011, Catholic University of America, School of Library Science

Viveca Pattison Robichaud takes part in the 14th CNBA Day with a speech on SPQR-ND_Interpreting the Roman forum Through Early Architectural Publications