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Let's renovate

Photo: foxypar4

The world of architecture has changed drastically since the days of Frank Lloyd Wright. Not only have the roles of architects changed, but the types of projects have, as well. Because of building trends or the economy, more and more projects are renovations or remodels. Building forecasts predict there will be more reuse, in the coming years, than new construction.

This marks a new stage in the built environment of the United States. The best property in existing urban centers has been built out, and suburban growth has been checked by drive times, costs of living, and practicality. So, many are finding the best solutions are renovations and additions to existing structures in desired areas.

Though usually more expensive than new construction, renovation creates new opportunities and solutions to space-making that would not have been gained by starting from a tabula rasa, or clean slate. In truth, the existing structure has a dignity and goodness because it has persisted for years, without being razed; the building’s utility has outlasted whims, fashions, and natural phenomena.

Wear shown on an old building is a history of the structure, and like a patina, it gives a new character to the building, not foreseen by its architect. Accepting the worn elements adds the dimension of time to a discipline of space, and recognition of this can reveal a sublime understanding of existence.

However, one should not assume a building is faultless if it is old. Such conservatism creates a stolid, uncreative building. Instead, surprising insights and discoveries can occur by innovative reuse and redefinition of building elements. Often, the juxtaposition of old and new unveils a vitality previously hidden in a structure.

Architects say a design is never finished, only developed and improved. In the same way, renovation allows a building to evolve and progress.