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    California Preservation Awards 2003

    by ArchitectureWeek

    Every year, the California Preservation Foundation presents awards to notable architecture and engineering projects statewide that have been rescued from deterioration and restored to use and beauty. They also honor the work of preservation researchers and of architects designing contemporary buildings in historically sensitive environments.

    One of the 19 selected projects this year is the addition and renovation of 530 Ramona Street (1930) in Palo Alto by Cody Anderson Wasney Architects. This project is an example of how to design a large addition to a historic building without damaging its distinctive characteristics. Located in an otherwise well preserved National Register Historic District, this commercial building had suffered from several awkward modifications.

    Studying historic drawings, the architects designed an addition to step away from the street facade, making it compatible with the original building. The project creates retail and office space and adds code-conforming stairs and an elevator. While most of the interior finishes are new, an original mezzanine with hand-hewn beams was uncovered and restored.

    The African American Museum and Library in Oakland, originally a Carnegie Library, was built between 1900 and 1904. The Beaux Arts architecture remained largely intact, including ornate decorative plaster work and several murals. However, the unreinforced masonry structure was heavily damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and the building lay vacant for nearly a decade.

    Now, Michael Willis Architects has led a large team of planners, museum and exhibit consultants, preservation specialists, and engineers to convert the library to a museum. They have upgraded it structurally, conserving historic elements, and adapted it for use as a research library and museum. Because it is a National Register landmark, all construction was subject to strict historic preservation guidelines.

    Another example of adaptive reuse is the Tanforan Cottage (1854) by Gelfand RNP Architects. The Tanfaran Cottage is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the oldest surviving residential structures in San Francisco's Mission district. The existing wood-frame, Gold-Rush-era, "Greek revival" house has been modernized and added to in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's standards for historic structures.

    The rehabilitated Tanforan Cottage provides eight residents with HIV/AIDS an affordable, independent living environment. The cottage's shallow porch and ornamented false front had complicated physical access to the building, so a new ramp was installed along the north side to a landing at a rear deck. The Tanforan Cottage retains small-scale residential qualities and contributes to the civic life of its neighborhood.

    Honors also went to The Steinberg Group for adaptive reuse of the Riverside County Courthouse (1904). The Beaux Arts classical revival style building by Burnham and Root had been modified throughout its life, with varying degrees of sensitivity, resulting in the loss or destruction of many of its original fittings and details. Air conditioning and fluorescent lights arrived; stained glass and decorative pillars disappeared. Earthquakes and post-earthquake repairs did further damage.

    Using historical images, records, and a few remaining architectural elements, the design team recreated many of the original features. The renovation focused on the courtrooms and included accessibility and building code upgrades, exterior and structural renovations, new mechanical and lighting systems, and roofing and ornamentation repairs.

    The California Preservation Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of California's historic built environment. They sponsor an annual conference and promote preservation through publications, advocacy, technical assistance, and this annual design awards program.

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

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    ArchWeek Image

    Infill on historic Ramona Street in Palo Alto, by Cody Anderson Wasney Architects, is one of 19 projects honored this year by the California Preservation Foundation.
    Photo: Marvin Wax

    ArchWeek Image

    The African American Museum and Library in Oakland, built between 1900 and 1904 as a Carnegie Library, was restored by Michael Willis Architects.
    Photo: David Wakely, 2001

    ArchWeek Image

    The Gold Rush-era Tanforan Cottage was adapted for reuse by Gelfand RNP Architects.
    Photo: Justine Hewitt

    ArchWeek Image

    The Steinberg Group won an award for their adaptive reuse of the Riverside County Courthouse (1904) by Burnham and Root.
    Photo: Marvin Rand

     

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