Track 6: INTEGRATING OLD AND NEW – BUILDINGS, DISTRICTS, and LANDSCAPES / Volet 6: Intégrer l’ancien et le nouveau – Immeubles, quartiers et paysages

The Principles of Future-Proofing

Saturday, October 14
10:45 AM - 12:15 PM

Preservationists constantly struggle to demonstrate the value of preserving historic buildings and convincing investors that they will be successful despite the ample evidence from past projects. The value of a successful rehabilitation project lies in the trifecta of socio-cultural preservation, economic success, and maximizing the sustainable qualities of an existing building, including their materials, embodied energy, and capability to serve people.

Successful preservation projects render a building historically intelligible, functional into the future, and takes advantage of its inherent sustainable features. A building’s heritage and its evolution must be able to be understood while allowing for innovations that accommodate new functions and extend its service life. A successful historic building must be adaptable and flexible so that it will not become obsolete. And a successful historic building must make the most of the building materials, embodied energy, and the inherent sustainable features that are designed into the building.

Today, popular concepts of “resilience” focus on sustainability, natural hazards, and climate change. Future-Proofing encompasses a broader perspective that focuses on the long term preservation of historic buildings and accounts for many additional reasons buildings fail. Future-proofing is the process of anticipating future events and developing methods of adaptation. This process includes mitigation of negative effects while taking advantage of positive effects of changes, shocks, and stresses imposed on buildings.

The Principles of Future-Proofing were developed as a tool to evaluate the capability of buildings to resist potential erasure. It provides decision makers and stakeholders a basis for the broad consideration of how to preserve historic buildings and guides the design of mitigation and adaptation strategies in the face of immutable threats. The Principles require maintaining authenticity and integrity of historic structures such that the cultural values and history that they represent is present today and into the future.

This paper presents the concept of future-proofing and discusses the development of the Principles of Future-Proofing historic buildings. By presenting an innovative understanding of resilience as a decision making framework, new policies for managing our cultural heritage can be developed. New understanding of and approaches to our cultural heritage can be developed that will preserve our historic built environment for the long term.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit this paper proposal for your consideration.

Learning Objectives:

Brian D. Rich, AIA, LEED BD+C, CCCA, PMP

Richaven Archtiecture and Sustainable Preservation

Brian D. Rich, AIA, LEED BD+C, CCCA, PMP, is an historic preservation architect and the Principal of Richaven Architecture & Preservation (, Creator of the Principles of Future-Proofing, Instructor of Technical Issues in Historic Preservation at the University of Washington, and Husky 100 Award winner.

Founded in 2012, Richaven was created to focus on future-proofing existing and historic buildings. Growing out of the detailed technical knowledge and regulatory experience Mr. Rich has in rehabilitating historic buildings, the basic premise of the firm’s work is to balance the need for respecting the historic character of our built environment with renewing it. The goal of future-proofing is to make the most of the single largest investment humans have made in their societies - economically, environmentally, and culturally. A holistic understanding of an historic building in terms of its significance, important character defining features, the way the building works in its physical and economic, and social environment, and the uses that it can accommodate, is required to achieve the sustainable, resilient, long lasting performance. Brian has had several presentations and articles published on the subject of future-proofing historic buildings. See for additional information.

Brian is President of the Northwest Chapter of APT, member of the Washington State Heritage Barn Advisory Committee, Board Member at the historic University Heights Community Center, and inaugural member of the University of Washington Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Council. Brian was also a subject matter expert at the 2015 AIA Resilience Summit and a subject matter expert for the USGBC’s Resilience Working Group. His past volunteer work includes service as past Chair of the King County Landmarks Commission and its Design Review Committee, member of the 4Culture Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, and the AIA Seattle Historic Resources Committee.


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