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The latest news on New York architecture.

As progress dictates that we must forge on into the future, the unfortunate tearing down of the old to make room for the new means more buildings are being lost. Adaptive reuse, however, defines progress differently.

To those who may not be familiar with this type of architectural restoration, adaptive reuse takes an existing structure and refines it, breathing new life into a structure that was no longer fit for its surroundings.

Due to the multiple processes required to bridge different types of architecture and design adaptive reuse projects are usually anything but straightforward. From transforming an old church into a restaurant or taking a crumbling mill and creating a mixed-use space, large scale renovations of historic buildings can present several challenges (permits, approvals, etc.). But a developer's avoidance of adaptive reuse closes them off from many of the city's most treasured properties.

When it comes to adaptive reuse our team doesn’t shy away. Rather we follow a set of best practices that mitigates the complexity and planning of the project so that it’s successful.

Finding Common Ground

When it comes to landmarked buildings, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is heavily concerned with a building's exterior and its elements such as facade and windows. Specifics of conformity to original architectural style, as well as some of the interior construction, must meet the LPC’s requirements. Tasked with preserving beauty, the Commission will only work with a developer if they are willing to embrace the structure’s origins. However, if the developer isn't thoughtful and respectful of the requirements and the history of the property, they will most likely find themselves facing multiple obstacles with the commission.

Most importantly, we must show a clear understanding of the property’s story, and the potential of the space inside.

Do Your Research

Due diligence is the key to a successful adaptive reuse project. Having as much documentation and knowledge regarding the existing conditions of the property, including how the property was constructed, will greatly help the developer, architect and contractor. Often original documentation cannot be found or there are important details missing. The Department of Building carries microfilm that will hold clues to drawings, permits, and actions.

Coming armed with as much information as possible leads to less constraints during renovations and having ample documentation helps us to determine what is most feasible and cost-effective.

Having a Technological Advantage

As technology advances within the real estate and construction industry, innovations such as 3D laser scanning has become a staple in the design and construction process. With the use of lasers, millions of data points are captured replicating a digital version of the building's exact size and shape. This technology renders a much more accurate model of the building, allowing stakeholders to fully grasp the buildings state of health.

When it comes to adaptive reuse 3D scans reduce uncertainty for the construction team as we move forward with the project.

Staffing, Scheduling, and Budget

When developers embark on an adaptive-reuse project, it is imperative they have a well-trained staff. These projects present more challenges and complexities requiring a team that can comprehend the responsibilities they will face.

Our knowledgeable staff is vital in the participation of estimating, budgeting, and scheduling. With varying processes and concerns interwoven amongst each other, it is crucial that budget and scheduling are updated regularly through continuous evaluations for the best possible outcome to be achieved.

To learn more about historical restoration, contact us.

Published in Adaptive Reuse

Architecture is designed with intention, meaning its form says something about the building's purpose. Form follows function. Elements such as decorative cornices, windows and doors all contribute to the story of the building's purpose. This is especially true of historic buildings. Preserving their design helps to preserve the building's story and history.

Telling a Story

There is rarely, if ever, anything random or carelessly done when designing a building. The building's size and design tells something about its importance within the surrounding community. It may also tell us something about the importance or wealth of the person or entity that originally had the building constructed. Finally, the design can tell you a lot about the time in which the building was constructed.

For example, a large and imposing door way with massive windows might have been placed in a Wall Street bank to denote the importance of the building's function in that location. Conversely, a Main Street bank in a small town may have been larger and dignified for the setting in which it was placed, but still have been far more modest than its Wall Street counterpart.

A home built in the 19th century might have included more decorative design elements that reflect architectural movements such as the Georgian, Greek revival or the Italianate Revival. This contrasts the cleaner lines often found in homes designed in the 21st century.

Preserving the Story

What would be the point in preserving a historic building if its story was not also preserved? The design choices of the building's original construction tell much about the building's history and original purpose. To wipe these elements away and clean the slate would be tantamount to destroying the building and wiping away history altogether.

When restoring a building, careful consideration should be given to the building's history. It is important that the artisans and craftspeople involved in the restoration process have a thorough grounding in historic building materials and practices. Every attempt should be made to ensure that the building's historic integrity, as well as its structural integrity, is preserved.

The team at Scott Henson Architect are experts in preserving and restoring historic buildings. They direct that expertise toward preserving the character of a historic structure while ensuring that it remains a functional, contributing member of the modern urban landscape. Contact Scott Henson Architect today to find out how they can help preserve your historic treasure.

 

Published in Landmarks Preservation