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Modern additions to historic buildings


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The example I am going to give is fairly specific, but you all are welcome to expand on the idea. 

My question is how you all feel about adding modern, starkly different additions to historic structure? The example I will concentrate on is the proposed addition to the Noel building for a boutique hotel....and what type of precedent it sets with other historic structures. Also considered is the Utopia expansion (which is a bit different).


Noel proposed expansion:




Utopia proposed addition:



My first thought about this is how this type of precedent affects existing historic buildings housing hotels....in that same hood, namely the Courtyard and the Hotel Indigo, both of which share the element of the Noel building's "L" shape and potential to maximize space with a modern addition.

A shot of Courtyard (lower left) and Hotel Indigo (center) from the AT&T building:


Both of these buildings are existing hotels, and as far as we can tell, successful as they are. But with the Noel proposal, the question becomes, do these hotels now have a legitimate argument to be able to expand on their existing footprint with modern additions that fill the unused areas of their property? Would this be good for Nashville? On one hand, it can be said that the Noel expansion is crucial to make that proposal profitable (whereas the other two existing hotels presumably don't need such an expansion to make them "work". On the other hand, in fairness, if we start allowing modern additions to historic buildings (which is definitely not unheard of, and is used in many cities worldwide), will it compromise the historic nature of our historic buildings by having a large number of non-historic (and not in keeping with the architectural style) additions?

I tend to draw a distinction between buildings such as Noel, Courtyard (Third National), and Hotel Indigo (American Trust), which have historic facades, but more pedestrian backsides, and buildings that have a more uniform facade throughout (take Stahlman or Doctor's Buildings, for instance). What about the Hermitage Hotel? It is a U shaped building. Would you be opposed to allowing a "modern" addition to fill in the U (which doesn't actually front any street, btw, and would be largely hidden)?

Then there are examples like the Utopia proposal. I do support the Utopia proposal itself, but not as a precedent for future development. I think it is appropriate considering the structures involved....but I'm not ready to see 6-10 story additions on top of other historic facades.


What are your thoughts?


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There are a number of things to consider...

1. Keep as much of the historical structure looking as it did "in the day."

2. Make sure the added structure fits and makes the historical structure look even better...but don't try to add onto the historical structure with an exact match of what's already there.  Materials never seem to match...and today's craftsmanship is different.  Plus...you still want the historical structure to stand out from the addition.  The addition should be like a "hat" that makes the historical structure look more "dapper."

3. Each structure is different.  You should never add on to The Parthenon...for obvious reasons that it would no longer look like THE Parthenon.  I don't mind the addition on The Ryman...as long as it never overshadows the actual "old church" portion.  We should never add on to old historical homes like The Hermitage or Belle Meade Plantation...ever.  I think it would be ok to add onto the back of the Frist Center for the Arts...just don't touch the front.  Etc...etc...etc...

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I love it.  There is or was a building on the north side of Chicago I used to see from the L (red line) which has a glass top floor addition and matching glass in the old brick windows, so it looks like a new building grew inside the old one, I found it very beautiful.  I also love the glass pyramid (I think it's a visitor center) at the Louvre.  One thing I love about Nashville is the way you have modern glass buildings rising above old brick ones, and if that wants to happen within a single building, I'm all for it.  Obviously there are places where it doesn't work, but not many IMO.


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