Margaret Matz 1

Margaret Matz has 20 years of experience designing new, sustainable renovation projects for academic institutions, health care institutions, and corporate and retail organizations. She is fluent in English, French, Hindi, Spanish and Venetian. In 2010, she founded Milestone Architecture pllc which is a global architectural and design practice, based in New York and with representatives in India, Italy, and Turkey.

When did you establish Milestone Architecture, pplc and how big is it?

I founded the company in 2010 and we employ about 10 people. The company includes international employees working in Turkey, Tunisia(?) and Italy. Learn more about Milestone Architecture pllc

What types of projects is the company working on?

We have water treatment projects and a wide variety of other projects all falling under the umbrella of sustainable design. A project that we are working on now that is quite exciting is in support of the restoration effort at a UNESCO Heritage site on the island of Torcello in Venice, Italy.

UNESCO is a United Nations Agency that works to gather international support for preserving cultural treasures. The island of Torcello in Venice is home to Church structures that were built in 639 AD. The ancient structures draw modern day pilgrims who come for both artistic and religious reasons. The church structures employ architectural elements of several cultures and house priceless works of religious art. The structures are in dire need of preservation. They have suffered the effects of time, storms and earth quakes. The Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta is the oldest church in Venice.

How did you become aware of the structures on Torcello?

I grew up in Venice and I return there regularly. I have known about this site and its monuments for a long while. Friends recently introduced me to the Francesco Grimaldi who is a restorer and Paulo Tocchi who is an architect working on this site.

What role is Milestone Architecture, pllc performing at Torcello?

We are collaborating with Lewis Berger Group and Energy & Ecology. Together, we are using 3D laser scanning technology and modern architectural software to document and preserve this historic site. We began the survey work in August of 2012. Phase I was preparing the necessary architectural drawing needed to get permits for some of the restoration work. That Phase is complete. Phase II involves the creation of materials for a traveling exhibit that will be used to educate people about this site and seek sponsors for the preservation and restoration. The exhibit will include both 2D and 3D representations of the structures.


Can you elaborate some on the 3D scanning techniques that were used?

This is a photography tool that creates multiple photos in very quick succession. It is combined with a laser scanner that collects coordinate data that can be used later for making measurements. The camera is used to document the site one spherical space at a time. Scene software is then used to process the first generation of pictures, stitching them together into a unified picture. That image is saved as a “point cloud” containing 4000 data points per square meter of surface that is photographed. Milestone Architecture brings that data into software that converts it into the formats used to create 2D architectural drawings as well as 3D virtual simulations that viewers can “walk” through and 3D models that people can view. Our goal is to represent physical reality and the spatial reality in several formats. The scanning method is objective and scans every detail of both the built and natural world allowing us to show in our drawings and models a very realistic recreation of the historic monuments in their natural setting.

How will these drawings and models be used?

One of our goals is to educate people about the religious and historic monuments on the island of Torcello. These monuments are historical, cultural, architectural and artistic treasures that appeal to several groups of people. They employ unique construction methods and the architecture and artistic styles are a blend of Roman and Greek, as well as, Christian and Muslim styles. The drawings and models will be used during educational presentations that will be made to foundations, corporations, and other groups. They will be used in presentations at the Black Sea University (KATU) in Turkey and the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Will any of these presentations be in New York City?torcello-020113-mrg2557-2448

One of the presentations will be at Pratt University in Brooklyn and another may be at The Cooper Union.

The Torcello site has several monuments of architectural and artistic interest. Where will the preservation work begin?

Francesco Grimaldi and Paolo Tocchi have already begun the restoration of the Martyrium of Santa Fosca on Torcello. They have braced the campanile which is the bell tower, to stabilize it. The two projects that will be happening next are the restoration of the Iconostasis screen and the restoration of the mosaic floor in the Basilica of Santa Maria. See pictures. The iconostasis is one of earliest examples of Greek religious art and the mosaic in the floor is a sunburst pattern made of colored stones brought from India.


How have you stayed connected to The Cooper Union?

I attend the Sustainable Architectural events at The Cooper Union as well as the AIA Architectural events in The Great Hall. I am a friend of Elizabeth O’Donnell, Associate Dean of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, and speak with her regularly. I am on the CUAA Alumni Council and a member of the Council Events Committee.

Additional information:

World Monuments Fund — Torcello

photos by Deborah Garwood
(top, right):
 Close-up of the Mosaic floor in the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta
(middle, left): Internal view of the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta
(bottom, middle): Exterior view of church showing the bell tower