Monday, November 22, 2010

Definitions & 67 Layton Avenue

Here are the Secretary of the Interior’s definitions for restoration, demolition, renovation, preservation, etc. I find them very handy and I’ll tell you why after.

Preservation is defined as the act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic property. Work, including preliminary measures to protect and stabilize the property, generally focuses upon the ongoing maintenance and repair of historic materials and features rather than extensive replacement and new construction. New exterior additions are not within the scope of this treatment; however, the limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a preservation project.

Reconstruction is defined as the act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location.

Rehabilitation is defined as the act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values.

Restoration is defined as the act or process of accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period. The limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a restoration project.

Neither our Village nor our State codes include these definitions and they should. They should even go a step further as far as I’m concerned. For example, out here, if you improve the area of your house more than 50%, it is considered ‘New Construction’ rather than ‘Renovation.’ The definitions above could also benefit by the inclusion of percentages.

Here’s where I’m going with this. My observation of the dismantling of 67 Layton Avenue (photos sprinkled throughout this post) has me left wondering exactly how much of the original house has been saved except the skeleton? All the original materials are gone, inside and out. All of the chimneys are gone. There is a new foundation, will be a new east wing and a lot of new framing sistered together with the existing framing. It’s akin to dramatic reconstructive surgery. It’s still the same soul but……………or is it?

The 67 Layton Avenue project was labeled an addition/renovation project. Looks like new construction to me. They might as well have just demolished and replicated it, right? During the ARB public hearing the applicant said, "We know we can't demolish it." But they might as well have. It saddens me that a circa 1890 house was treated this way, with little to no oversight or sensitivity.

The RESTORATION of the Nathaniel Rogers of House in Bridgehampton is finally underway. Throughout the working drawings percentages of new vs. original are constantly called out. 40% new siding here, 30% new something there. Our codes would really benefit from having more definitions in them, with percentages and parameters to distinguish one activity from the other. It would also prevent, I hope, the stripping down of historic – landmark worthy – resources.

No comments:

Post a Comment