Looking back, advancing forward: historic renovation and architectural revival for 21st century living
By Paul Benton
Last month, we discussed the artistic influence exerted by California’s historic architecture as it relates to the Pacific Standard Time festival in celebration of Southern California’s creative legacy. And in some cases, historic renovations achieve a goal similar to that advanced by Pacific Standard Time: namely, the preservation and arrangement of artistic artifacts in a manner that teaches us about our past, present and future. However, historic renovation can also serve another purpose: to not only preserve, but also modify and modernize treasured structures in order to assimilate them into the contemporary mainstream. For example, the San Diego Union Tribune recently reported plans on the part of the NTC Foundation to restore eight buildings – seven barracks and one former officer’s residence dating back to the 1920s — into retail shops and nonprofit organization offices. While no major structural changes are required for the project, the fundamental shift in purpose from Naval housing to contemporary retail and office use demands a parallel shift in the architects’ approach to the renovation – and a modern take on historic spaces to make them suitable for 21st century life, work and commerce.
When it comes to public versus private spaces – such as the NTC buildings, schools, offices or retail shops – changes in daily life and operations often necessitate more complex alterations than those needed to restore personal residences. Schools offer a prime example: after all, with the passage of time, both teaching methods and the technology used to support them have changed dramatically. Classrooms have evolved from individual spaces, each with plenty of windows, to spaces that are often joined in different ways and rendered capable of being darkened partially or completely for a range of presentations. Subsequently, while many educators appreciate the quality and history of classic school buildings, there is also no question in their mind that those spaces must be altered to suit current teaching methods and resources. The architect’s challenge, then, is to incorporate modern additions – such as air conditioning systems or accessibility ramps – without compromising characteristic details like milled wood detailing, stained glass windows, balconies, balustrades and classic mouldings in the process.
Innovative solutions and forward thinking design with San Diego’s renovation experts
These days, historic renovation touches many areas of our lives: from artful living to practical structural updates to real estate development restrictions, the demand for historical understanding is increasingly widespread. At Alcorn & Benton Architects, we strive to meet and exceed the challenges posed by San Diego renovation projects – and take pride in our legacy of model results that blend creativity and technical expertise for beautiful, functional spaces built to last. By marrying the perfect blend of artistic perspective and architectural engineering, we can carry our past with us into the future: to learn more, visit us online at www.alcornbenton.com.
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