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Thread: Historic Restoration of buildings and design considerations

  1. #1
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    Historic Restoration of buildings and design considerations

    I didn't want to detract from the threads currently being discussed about the loss of the historic Notre Dame cathedral so I started this thread.

    As posted by Jim Becker, restoring a century old building to meet current safety standards in most countries is difficult at best if you try to maintain a purist attitude.

    In 1999, I met a coworker from New Zealand in a corporate 3 week class in Milwaukee. We were part of a 3 man lab group and became instant best friends. He was the lead engineer for our employer on the south island of New Zealand. Two years later he offered me a position at Dunedin which I declined. After nearly a decade of hearing my desire to some day visit my friend, also named Ken, and his lovely wife, our youngest son and wife generously gifted us with a 40th anniversary gift of a 10 day trip to New Zealand. Though we were met at the airport by a driver, my friend also was there stating he'd pick us up later at our hotel. Later that evening he gave us a driving tour of Christchurch. After drinks at a beachside bar where we met his wife, we went to dinner and they gave us another driving tour of the historical downtown area of Christchurch where century old buildings reside next to newly constructed buildings. The architects had used care in the design so there wasn't a clash between 2 or more buildings built in different centuries. I was amazed how well the considered designs melded together.

    Our 10 day trip to New Zealand amounted to flying in to a couple cities on both islands and doing the local tourist things. It only kindled our desire to see more of the gorgeous country. We, my wife and I, met in 1968 after I had already enlisted in the US Navy and just before I was due to leave for boot camp so we didn't have time nor could we afford a honeymoon. So for 2 years beginning in 2012, we planned a honeymoon trip of 34 days in Australia, NZ and Fiji. In 2014 we took that honeymoon where we spent another 2 weeks in NZ but this time we traveled by regularly scheduled buses, trains and a ferry from the south island to the north island. We toured Christchurch again with my friend Ken and his wife AFTER the earthquakes. The devastation was incredible. Huge squares totally demolished. The historic buildings never built to with stand earth quakes were gone BUT so were the ones built to withstand earth quakes. The utilities were all installed in the ground, sewage, water, electrical and with the ground shifts caused by the earthquakes, they couldn't even begin to predict when they'd be able to restore services so the leveled they new ones as they cleaned up the rubble. They installed chain link fences to keep people from unsafe conditions.

    It had been a lifelong dream of mine to tour Ireland to see the country from where my ancestors emigrated. 30 months ago my wife and I toured Ireland with 30 others by bus. We took a walking tour of Cork and at one point with a local historian as our guide we stood on a corner. He pointed out buildings built in 5 different centuries, all standing together and designed with a grace that made their styles work well together.

    I can only imagine the difficulties that lie ahead in the clashes of ideas and making the decisions in the reconstruction of Notre Dame cathedral!
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 04-16-2019 at 1:41 PM.
    Ken

  2. #2
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    Ken, I agree about NZ. The wife and I toured the south island on a ten day motorcycle trip. It is an amazing country and the people are great. It reminded me of 1950's America, especially away from the larger cities.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fitzgerald View Post
    I didn't want to detract from the threads currently being discussed about the loss of the historic Notre Dame cathedral so I started this thread.

    As posted by Jim Becker, restoring a century old building to meet current safety standards in most countries is difficult at best if you try to maintain a purist attitude.

    In 1999, I met a coworker from New Zealand in a corporate 3 week class in Milwaukee. We were part of a 3 man lab group and became instant best friends. He was the lead engineer for our employer on the south island of New Zealand. Two years later he offered me a position at Dunedin which I declined. After nearly a decade of hearing my desire to some day visit my friend, also named Ken, and his lovely wife, our youngest son and wife generously gifted us with a 40th anniversary gift of a 10 day trip to New Zealand. Though we were met at the airport by a driver, my friend also was there stating he'd pick us up later at our hotel. Later that evening he gave us a driving tour of Christchurch. After drinks at a beachside bar where we met his wife, we went to dinner and they gave us another driving tour of the historical downtown area of Christchurch where century old buildings reside next to newly constructed buildings. The architects had used care in the design so there wasn't a clash between 2 or more buildings built in different centuries. I was amazed how well the considered designs melded together.

    Our 10 day trip to New Zealand amounted to flying in to a couple cities on both islands and doing the local tourist things. It only kindled our desire to see more of the gorgeous country. We, my wife and I, met in 1968 after I had already enlisted in the US Navy and just before I was due to leave for boot camp so we didn't have time nor could we afford a honeymoon. So for 2 years beginning in 2012, we planned a honeymoon trip of 34 days in Australia, NZ and Fiji. In 2014 we took that honeymoon where we spent another 2 weeks in NZ but this time we traveled by regularly scheduled buses, trains and a ferry from the south island to the north island. We toured Christchurch again with my friend Ken and his wife AFTER the earthquakes. The devastation was incredible. Huge squares totally demolished. The historic buildings never built to with stand earth quakes were gone BUT so were the ones built to withstand earth quakes. The utilities were all installed in the ground, sewage, water, electrical and with the ground shifts caused by the earthquakes, they couldn't even begin to predict when they'd be able to restore services so the leveled they new ones as they cleaned up the rubble. They installed chain link fences to keep people from unsafe conditions.

    It had been a lifelong dream of mine to tour Ireland to see the country from where my ancestors emigrated. 30 months ago my wife and I toured Ireland with 30 others by bus. We took a walking tour of Cork and at one point with a local historian as our guide we stood on a corner. He pointed out buildings built in 5 different centuries, all standing together and designed with a grace that made their styles work well together.

    I can only imagine the difficulties that lie ahead in the clashes of ideas and making the decisions in the reconstruction of Notre Dame cathedral!
    Now if they can do the job efficiently like they did for windsor castle but the scale of the damage was less in that case.

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    I just saw one article that says they could possibly rebuild it in 40 years. I think it can be done,maybe not in that time frame but it will take a group of minds in the design process that are knowledgeable, open minded and willing to compromise. I can only begin to imagine what it will take to try to restore to some level of it's previous glory while meeting today's standards for safety and durability! This will be a tremendous mental and character task!
    Ken

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    Frank Loyd Wright designs are often upgraded so the roof no longer leaks.
    Bill

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    Ken,
    Your post came very close to acknowledging that Architects can be sensitive to the surrounding environment and may actually have worth in our society. Thank you!

    FWIW - the reconstruction/renovation efforts will NOT rely on historic materials (IMHO). No one should expect that 400 yr old oaks will be harvested to frame the "new" roof. The real challenge will be in the heat damage to the walls & flying buttresses and their ability to channel the loads.

    Regards - Bill
    Last edited by Bill McNiel; 04-16-2019 at 9:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McNiel View Post
    Ken,
    Your post came very close to acknowledging that Architects can be sensitive to the surrounding environment and may actually have worth in our society. Thank you!

    FWIW - the reconstruction/renovation efforts will NOT rely on historic materials (IMHO). No one should expect that 400 yr old oaks will be harvested to frame the "new" roof. The real challenge will be in the heat damage to the walls & flying buttresses and their ability to channel the loads.

    Regards - Bill
    Bill,

    Obviously I was trying to compliment the architects work designing new buildings that would complement existing building without overpowering the centuries old architecture. The ability to design is something I admire. I would imagine it's difficult to design for form and then configure supporting structure.
    Ken

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    Those archaic materials and techniques made a building that stood for 800 years. How many buildings built today with modern materials and techniques do we think will still be standing in the year 2800? My bet is approximately zero. We're seeing a lot of 50 yer old buildings being torn down because they've "exceeded their expected lifetime".

    Rebuilding Notre Dame will be a very interesting process to watch, I expect some battles royale between those who will want to replicate what was there and those who will want to update.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    Frank Loyd Wright designs are often upgraded so the roof no longer leaks.
    Bill
    And so the cantilevers don't sag. FLW was a great architect, but his engineering lagged a bit.

  10. #10
    Its going to take a team of structural engineers, architects, and restoration experts.

    I agree with Roger ^ I think it will take 5 years just to get a plan in place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Engel View Post
    Its going to take a team of structural engineers, architects, and restoration experts.

    I agree with Roger ^ I think it will take 5 years just to get a plan in place.

    +1 on that and that's a good thing. They only get one chance at the rebuild. But I disagree just a bit. I think some sort of roof/cover will go up almost instantly in order to protect and stabilize the rest. I would expect scaffolding inside and out for construction of some sort of exo-skeleton to insure support while they evaluate the stonework. It may be that they will remove the stained glass and organ to a safe location until the building is stable.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Engel View Post
    Its going to take a team of structural engineers, architects, and restoration experts.

    I agree with Roger ^ I think it will take 5 years just to get a plan in place.
    You're probably right. Makes me think the French Prime Minister got ahead of himself yesterday with his vow that it would be completely rebuilt within 5 years. Makes you appreciate how much destruction fire can inflict in just a few hours.

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    There was an interesting interview (either BBC or NYT, I don't remember) with the fellow who led rebuilding of the Yorkminster cathedral when it burned in the early 80's. He was very optimistic about the likelihood of success. He indicated that the first, and one of the harder steps would be removal of the fire-damaged scaffolding from the building, followed by erection of a temporary cover to protect the building from weather during reconstruction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin Santos View Post
    You're probably right. Makes me think the French Prime Minister got ahead of himself yesterday with his vow that it would be completely rebuilt within 5 years. Makes you appreciate how much destruction fire can inflict in just a few hours.
    The fire damage is probably easier to deal with than the water damage...change "years" to "decades" and he's in the ballpark.
    https://www.latimes.com/science/la-s...417-story.html
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