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New Life for Old Buildings

Posted on May 7, 2013 in Blog

Integrating an older, existing building with new construction often presents a multitude of unique challenges throughout the design, scheduling, and construction phases of a project. Activities ranging from structural connections and joint sealants to historic restoration and even flooring finishes can all become important factors in the success of projects with this design.

Proper planning and quality control minimize these challenges on projects like 1200 West Marshall Street, a six-story, 406-bed student housing project in downtown Richmond adjacent to the VCU Monroe Park campus. The new structure of this 260,167-square-foot project is integrated with the 30,000-square-foot 1930 Hajoca plumbing company building which is being restored and utilized. The development is preserving an important piece of historical architecture while also aiding in the revitalization of the community.

Wood Floor Tie-In

Much of the wood flooring in the Hajoca building was preserved; however, replacement of some areas was required due to damage accumulated over the years. Most of the wood flooring replacement required a butt joint installation in lieu of the finger jointing method typically used for wood flooring, as the wood plank dimensions of today differ slightly from the original flooring installed many years ago.

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Above: The new wood floor tie-in to the existing wood floor. Both the old and new flooring will be stripped and refinished for a consistent appearance.

Floor Height Tie-In

Discrepancies in existing building floor heights and new construction floor heights often require multiple elevator stops at each floor and transition stairs between the existing building and new construction.

Above: An existing elevator shaft with a newly constructed landing showing elevation transition. This elevator cab will also have front and rear stops to accommodate the difference in floor elevations.

Above: An existing elevator shaft with a newly constructed landing showing elevation transition. This elevator cab will also have front and rear stops to accommodate the difference in floor elevations.

 

Above: The underside view of second floor connection at the existing building.

Above: The underside view of second floor connection at the existing building.

 

Salvaging Old Material for Re-Use

Often, it is possible to retain most of the bricks where partial demolition is required to tie-in new construction. Salvaging old brick requires careful demolition adding some time to the project schedule, but it can be worth the extra effort. Re-use of the old brick as infill material minimizes the often difficult task of providing new brick that matches aged material.

Above: Salvaged brick is used as infill at existing building.

Above: Salvaged brick is used as infill at existing building.

Transition Joints Between Old and New Construction

Providing a weather-tight building envelope is a critical factor in the success of any project and is extremely important in construction risk management. Transition joints between old and new construction can be particularly difficult areas to properly seal.

At the 1200 West Marshall Street project, the design calls for an EM Seal product that is a pre-compressed polyurethane expanding foam coated with water-resistant silicone. Following installation, this product expands and creates a durable, weather-tight seal at open joints. It is important to understand sealant product compatibility with adjacent materials when making selections. For example, the EM Seal product may not be the correct applications at a storefront elevation where brake metal trim may not provide enough rigidity to support the pressure exerted by the pre-compressed EM Seal. A silicone sealant such a Pecora 890 NJT could be a better product for this location.

Above: The new building connection to existing building at future storefront elevation.

Above: The new building connection to existing building at future storefront elevation.

Above: The new building connection to existing building at future storefront elevation.

Above: The new building connection to existing building at future storefront elevation.

While there are challenges to overcome, significant benefits can be garnered through the integration of new construction with historic buildings. The innovative reuse of historic structures increases their relevance to current building users and creates a stronger demand for the preservation of historic structures located within urban areas. To take advantage of the resulting benefits, it is necessary to develop creative approaches to new construction techniques and the retention of existing building materials.

Contributed by: Chris Bryant, KBS Assistant Project Manager