Creating Successful Additions to Historically Significant Buildings
Old becomes new
More than ever, Architects are being asked to rethink, reimagine and repurpose old buildings having outlived their original purpose. These new and exciting uses may address sustainability while retaining significant, historic features. For example, a former office building built in the 1950s can be a new multi-family residential development; a turn of the century school house can be a new community centre. Repurposed architecture can revitalize a community by fulfilling a new need and demonstrate a successful balance between historical preservation and progress.
Inspiration from context
Some old buildings are influenced strongly by the historical significance of their surroundings or context. Researching a site’s history often reveals relevant and significant facts or events enhancing the meaning of a place. How each opportunity is assessed financially and technically for repurposing is as important as why it is being kept. In a busy and densely populated city, repurposing may be a better financial solution than costly demolition and new construction given rising land costs. Repurposing old buildings can avoid excessive disruption to a community, its people and its wildlife.
Building new memories
For the most part, historically significant buildings have held a position of importance during the formation of our communities. As we live, we collect memories within the architecture comprising our community. Our experiences within these buildings are collected and often cherished over our lifetime. We remember the sound of laughter at the family dining room table as much as we remember the sound of victory when our team wins at the stadium or the quiet, stable presence of an old church. Repurposing preserves our experiences while creating opportunity for new memories within a new use – and ultimately – the continuity of our communities.
ROD L. ROWBOTHAM, OAA, MRAIC
CEO, President, Principal Architect