Track 1: Decline vs. Revival: Tempering the Impulse to Tear Down and Start Over

General Abstract

2 - Conservation of Historic Mechanical Systems- Visual Impact and Functional Demand

Monday, September 24
2:45 PM - 4:15 PM
Location: BNCC- 101AH

As more mid-20th century and later buildings become eligible for designation and preservation we are faced with a new conservation design challenge. For many years preservation architects and engineers have developed creative ways to integrate new or upgraded systems “invisibly” while meeting the performance criteria of the building and functional activity. This approach was valid in historic properties in which modern systems never existed, or where the original design gave visual primacy to the architectural treatment. As the vocabulary of building design transitioned through the 20th century, however, designers explored the idea of exposing the building systems and celebrating them as an integral and character-defining feature of the visual experience. Comprehensive designs were developed that provided more than just functional performance. The holistic experience of architecture and systems became critical to the design expression.

When engaging with these buildings preservation architects and engineers must now work more collaboratively to identify, document and analyze the character defining features of these systems and incorporate this information into the preservation principles of the project. A key design challenge is to meet performance criteria while also being sensitive to the visual contribution of the systems to the overall design. More than ever before this requires that architects and engineers have the ability to communicate regarding the “art” and “science” of the systems and develop design ideas that achieve both visual harmony and functional success.

Two internationally significant buildings will be used to illustrate the design challenges, collaborative design approach and successful solutions that can be developed in response to this new type of preservation challenge. The United Nations Headquarters in New York (1952), and Louis Kahn’s Richards Medical Research Building at the University of Pennsylvania (1962), are representative of this inter-disciplinary design challenge. Three different programmatic spaces; a visitor entry lobby, conference room and research laboratories; challenged the architects and engineers to address both performance and heritage conservation. Major renovations of both buildings, completed in 2014 and 2015, incorporated three different design solutions, all of which relied on the close collaboration and creative input of architects and engineers.

Learning Objectives:

Matthew S. Chalifoux, FAIA

Senior Historic Preservation Architect, Principal
EYP Architecture & Engineering

Matthew Chalifoux, FAIA, is a Principal at EYP Architecture & Engineering. Mr. Chalifoux has over 30 years of experience in the renovation, restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings. Matt is a leader in championing historic preservation as a design discipline that embraces the idea that preservation, at its best, is the sensitive, creative management of change. This is evident in his work in modernizing internationally recognized, signature structures for clients whose goal is to simultaneously illuminate the past and embrace the future. Matt advances the model that success requires a collaborative team of creative individuals- architects, engineers, contractors and craftspeople. His projects have included the U.S. Supreme Court Building, the United Nations Headquarters, and the Richards Medical Research Building. While his projects have varied in scale they have all included the sensitive insertion of new technology and systems to provide appropriate levels of climate control, life safety and security while also being environmentally sensitive and sustainable. His projects have received local, state and national awards for design, historic preservation, construction and sustainability.


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David Bittermann

National Park Service

David Bittermann, AIA
Chief, Design and Preservation Planning
NPS Northeast Region - Historic Architecture, Conservation, and Engineering

David Bittermann, AIA, has served 34 years with the National Park Service, where he is currently Chief of Design and Preservation Planning for the Historic Architecture, Conservation, and Engineering Center (HACE) in the Northeast Regional Office. The center provides a variety of cultural resources services with its staff of Historical and Landscape Architects, Engineers, Architectural and Object Conservators, and Historians to 83 client National Parks in the Northeast Region, ranging geographically from Maine to Virginia. David is a former Board Member of APTNE, and for several years taught Architectural Conservation at Boston University. He received an M. Architecture degree from the University of Illinois and an MA from Boston University.


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2 - Conservation of Historic Mechanical Systems- Visual Impact and Functional Demand

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