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Preservation and renovation of interior spaces in historic buildings involves a careful and detailed structural assessment of the materials, environment, and applied stresses to ensure that the existing walls, floors, and other load bearing structures are structurally safe. This structural assessment can involve a visual inspection to assess the structural integrity of load bearing walls and joints. Structure can also be analyzed in greater detail through impact-echo vibration testing, which creates a computer-generated model of material strength.

Some damage to an interior is visible, such as water damage, cracked bricks, and missing mortar. However, some interior elements, such as columns, concrete flooring and welded steel structural elements, may need testing to ensure that the structure of the material is holding up, without fractures or other signs of impending failure.

With historic buildings, patching or attempting to strengthen a failing structural area can accelerate damage or failure. Detailed and complete structural assessments are a first step, with priorities for repair and renovation detailed.

When bringing a historic building into modern use, safety and access issues are as important as maintaining historic integrity in materials and use. Fire safety and access for those with mobility challenges are mandated in any public use building and may require changes to the interior space utilization.

In addition, a change in the planned use of the building requires assessments of how people will navigate the building. Emergency egress and bathrooms, for instance, are built based on the expected number of people using the building. Areas of potential bottle-neck during an emergency evacuation can be modeled by computer programs or viewed with a visual inspection. Modern systems, such as HVAC and plumbing, might also require changes in the interior structural elements, as these systems will need to be accessed for maintenance and repair.

The structural assessment will include areas such as materials safety, structural integrity, and immediate safety issues. A planned renovation will detail the necessary adaptive changes to an interior, specifically safety, access, and the buildings mechanical system. After these critical points are evaluated and planned for, elements of the interior renovation will be planned in order to maintain as many historic features as possible.

Can we answer your questions about historic interior renovation? Please contact us for more information.

Published in Restoration
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Interior Architecture in Adaptive Reuse

When you think of architecture, city skylines probably come to mind - the exterior appearance of buildings is what people usually associate with an architect's work.  However, there is another side of the field: interior architecture

Not to be confused with interior decorating, interior designers or architects design interior space that is bound by existing structures (walls, beams, doors) and equally restricted by human interaction (how people will use the space).  

Interior architects need a working knowledge of a wide range of subjects:

  • Building code
  • Structural integrity
  • Ergonomics and spatial concepts
  • CAD drawing
  • Design history

Interior architects work not only with home- or building-owners, but also with government agencies and builders.  In other words, interior architecture is design for living/working space in architectural rather than decorative terms. 

There are two types of interior architecture, the initial design/usage plan and adaptive reuse, or the redesign of an existing space to serve a new purpose.  According to Wikipedia:

Adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than which it was built or designed for. It can be regarded as a compromise between historic preservation and demolition.

One example of our interior architecture work on an adaptive reuse project is 11 West 20th Street.  Built in 1901 as a store, we have been working on the exterior and interior renovations since 2007.  Our interior work has included renovating the third floor; repairing damaged masonry; and replacing the building’s historic windows with new thermally insulated windows.

If you are in need of interior architecture services, contact us for a consultation.

Published in Adaptive Reuse