What’s Old is New Agan: Inside “Old Buildings, New Designs”


Some people wouldn’t blink an eye at the thought of tearing down an existing structure to build something new, while others will fight tooth and nail to preserve any building more than 25 years old. For the last three decades, San Francisco–based architect and structural engineer Charles Bloszies has been advocating for a third approach. In Old Buildings, New Designs: Architectural Transformations (Princeton Architectural Press), Bloszies highlights 19 innovative projects around the globe that have incorporated new, often shockingly modern structures into existing historic buildings. “With these types of projects, there are so many aspects that have to be in balance,” says Bloszies. “It’s imperative that the integrity of both the new design and the old design be solid.”

Walden Studios, Jensen & Macy Architects, Geyserville, CA

Nonetheless, there is a growing consensus that the benefits of architectural transformations—such as preservation, sustainability and cost-effectiveness—outweigh the challenges. “San Francisco is the perfect example,” says Bloszies. “In the mid-1980s there was a focus on height restrictions and concerns about congestion. Today, we embrace urban density because it requires less energy and resources. There is not a lot of raw land in this city, so instead of demolishing existing structures there is a new focus on transforming them.”

Dovecote Studio, Haworth Tompkins, Suffolk, England

Hutong Bubble 32, MAD Architects, Beijing, China

1 Kearney Street, Office of Charle Bloszies, San Francisco, CA

This story originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of California Home + Design.

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