Historic buildings provide a sense of direction about our place in time, a bond to our past, an essential component in the stream of our ethnicity through time. These old structures remind us of the achievement of our ancestors through physical materials, ideas, skills, and creative solutions they applied in the past. A building is “historic” when it possessed some significant factors like age, rarity, uniqueness, outstanding of its type, and historical link to a famous person or event. The age of a building along with a variety of significance will help to identify if the building can be judge as historic or with historical value.
We should look for these signs before any attempt to modify, destroy, or change a reasonably old building in any way. Preservation is an act or process of applying measures essential to maintain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic property (HBIA n. d. , p. 1). Aside from maintaining its form, and probably the first consideration, is to protect and stabilize the property. The work should not result in extensive replacement or adding new exterior materials but repairs of existing materials and features only.
Replacements or upgrading is generally applicable to electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems of the property to be functional and adaptable to modern systems. Following the standard set by the Historic Building Inspection Association to implement properly the process of preservation, each building subject to preservation must be organize by its intended use. A property that will be use as is it where use originally in the past must be preserving retaining all its “distinctive materials, features, spaces, and spatial relationships” (HBIA n. d. , p.
1). The first initiative should focus on stabilizing the building before any treatment is undertaken. Replacement or alteration of repairable or restorable historic materials should be avoided to protect and preserve the building’s historic character. The “historic character” mentioned here are the visual and tangible aspects of the building. INSPECTION – THE BUILDING’S HISTORIC CHARACTER According to Nelson 1998, p. 1. , there are three steps in identifying the visual character of a historic building. First is looking at its “overall” visual character.
This means like looking at a distance on something without going to its details. The main contributors to a building’s overall character according to him, is the shape, the roof features, various projections of the building, the voids or openings, and the various exterior materials used in the building. Walking around the building and looking at all sides is an effective approach to have a better understanding of its overall characters. Regardless of complexity or relative plain, these broad categories are helpful in determining the real overall character of the building, he added.
Next step is looking at the building at close range or arm’s length. Closely examining the surface qualities of the materials, “color and texture” (Nelson 1998, p. 1) reveals proof of age or superiority. It is important to know the qualities of these materials because they convey the artistry that makes these historic building different from other modern structures. In addition, according to Nelson 1998, these “close-up qualities” which are part of the building’s character are fragile and can easily be affected or damaged by new surface works such as painting on an original plain surface for example.
Step 3 is identifying visual character of interior spaces, features and finishes. To Nelson 1998, it is more difficult to distinguish the interior spaces than the exterior of a building. It is to fact that the exterior from a distance can be viewed at one time and understands its significant character at once. Examining the interior may take some time because you have to move through the spaces one at a time (Nelson 1998, p. 1). Although a room is easy to observe, the complexity of the connections and relationships between these rooms is quite hard to comprehend.
A smaller room’s visual aspect may come from fireplace mantels, lighting fixtures or finishing materials of the floor or (although not much consideration is given) is the visual aspect unusually coming from the complete bluntness of the room (secondary spaces) which has some historical significance because of important events occurred inside it. However, an important building’s character may sometimes not found inside a room; the corridors or lobbies may also have character that is more important.
In other buildings, “the qualities of the interior are related to the plan of the building” and the shape of space are essential part of its character (Nelson 1998, p. 1). The example given by Nelson 1998 is the axial plan creating a narrow tunnel-like space in a church, which has an apparently has a diverse character compared to the open space of a pavilion. It is therefore possible to comprehend that there are visual linkages in the sequence of spaces joining parts of the building and removing these spaces will change the character of a building.