Throughout more than 40 years of professional architectural practice, MRAAP has been involved in the renovation design of a number of properties which have intrinsic historical significance. These structures have included a variety of residential buildings, single and multi-family structures, commercial facilities and educational buildings. These projects have involved National Register properties, as well as buildings located in historically significant neighborhoods or districts where contextual concerns impacted renovation design. Many of these projects included modernization or upgrades of building systems, HVAC, lighting, computer/data capability enhancements, handicapped accessibility, elevators, etc. which were accomplished with respect to the needs of the renovation program without compromising the historic value of the building.
The addition of contemporary components must be handled sensitively to be integrated into an existing historical context in a manner that is compatible with the historical ambiance of a building. When providing elevators in historical buildings, our approach has been to find an abandoned chase or stair shaft and convert it to an elevator enclosure. In one case we were able to convert a stair shaft that could be vacated into an elevator shaft. In one situation where there were older elevators, we redesigned the elevator tower to be earthquake resistant and also changed all of the components in the elevators to make them handicapped accessible. For certain handicapped accessibility projects we have used concepts such as lifts and limited access elevators, providing disabled accessibility in such a way that it did not interfere with the historical aesthetics of the building. At the exterior, ramps, curb cuts, etc. have also been carefully conceived.
Several historical buildings have required new HVAC, lighting and power which have been either renovated or converted for adaptive reuse. These upgrades have been carefully detailed to ensure that the historical elevations and interiors have not been disturbed and that renovations are accomplished without loss of historic character. In many cases we have preserved those areas that are more ornate or historically important and provided additions or alterations to the building in areas that were not as critical.
We are careful in our designs not to compromise the historic ambiance of a building.