Published Sep 24, 2021 Sophie Muro
Through every stage of our design and construction process we have carefully considered how to embrace elements of the original buildings' design in creating our new Visitor Center. Keep reading to learn about the various historical treatments we use to keep the building's past present in our work.
Preservation is centrally concerned with maintaining and repairing the materials and features which already exist within a structure in order to retain aspects of its form over time.
One of the ways MCAAD was able to preserve elements of the original Riggs building by carefully removing the bank hall’s central laylight panes and packing them away. Once we are ready, these panes will be reinstalled into the newly renovated space.
Another type of preservation we are doing is utilizing the original escape hatch door for the main Riggs Bank Vault in the lower level of the 1503 bank hall. It recently went under conservation and reinstallation – especially for humidity & rust mitigation. It will be one of our only fully functioning ‘vault doors’ - what that means for donor experiences remains to be seen.
Rehabilitation occurs when a building or historical structure is altered in order to meet the changing needs and purpose of its owner, but during the process, careful attention is paid to ensuring that some degree of the building’s historic character is maintained. Rehabilitating spaces is an excellent way to allow for a building to evolve over time while retaining its historical significance and preserving its life history.
The ornamental plaster ceiling is one of the best examples of how MCAAD has rehabilitated this space to fit its new identify as our Visitor Center. In order to create more usable space, the original hanging supports for this ceiling are being carefully removed so that a new system can be installed which frees up the space above for exhibit space. Once this process is complete, these plaster rosettes will be put back into place.
Salvaging and repurposing original building materials is an eco-friendly way to retain elements of a building’s original structure and maintain features that are historically significant. Once these materials have been salvaged, they can be used to create new features within the structure.
The reception desk at our Conference Center's lobby was made using salvaged bronze elements from bank teller stations by Robinson Iron, a firm that specializes in the historical restoration and preservation of historical cast iron, aluminum, and bronze.