Modernization

Modernization is more than building and system upgrades: it's an attitude about maximizing the assets you already have in terms of functionality, energy performance, and aesthetics.

What is Modernization?

Modernization is more than system and building upgrades. It's a sustainable, cost-effective opportunity to realize a "new" facility. We extend the useful life of buildings, enabling them to conform to current requirements for program, code, performance, and brand, while incorporating elements of enduring value.

The Challenge of Modernization

by Les Shepherd

University of Houston, Student Center

Gone are the days when new construction was held to a higher standard than renovation. Fully modernized buildings are now expected to rival or surpass new construction in energy performance, functionality, and comfort. Meeting this challenge requires the architect and the entire team to go on a journey of exploration within an existing building. They must be part detective, part historian, part diplomat, soothsayers, and master communicators – all closely collaborating with one another to realize the full potential of the building renovation while fully respecting the spirit and intent of the original designers. A modernization project today challenges not only the architect but the entire design team in a way that no other project does.

Respecting & Responding to Existing Buildings

Modernized interior of the Richards Labs

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Richards Medical Research Laboratories

STEM

Contemporary interventions guided by careful analysis of the original design unlock the potential of an outdated facility.

Exterior view of building at dusk

Hamilton College

Taylor Science Center

STEM

Communities of faculty offices and student/faculty research spaces help maintain the intimacy of the College’s experience within this expansive facility.

FDR Museum interior

National Archives and Records Administration

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum

Cultural

What modernization accomplishes invisibly is as important as what it now reveals to visitors.

Exterior of Jersey Shore Ocean Medical Center

Hackensack Meridian Health

Jersey Shore University Medical Center

Specialty Services

The region’s only academic university-level teaching center and clinical research facility has undergone a transformational modernization and expansion.

Renewing Modernism: Notes on the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) Principles for Practice

University of Pennsylvania, Richards Medical Research Laboratories

The dialogue that began in the late 1980s concerning how we can best shepherd the legacy of modernism into a durable and sustainable future raises many issues that are fundamentally changing the way in which preservation professionals approach the rehabilitation of a large segment of the built environment. While we may philosophically debate when and how modernism devolves into the polyglot architectural expressions that have proliferated since the 1970s, technically we are dealing with many of the same issues – thin construction, ephemeral materials, naïve detailing and rapidly changing uses that render buildings tailored to a bespoke program now functionally obsolete – that we have been tackling with mid-century structures. Solutions to these problems require a robust, creative approach that fortuitously is bringing more design to preservation and vice versa. One area in particular that has been questionable, if not taboo in the traditional preservation charters, is acknowledging the necessity of intervention that is sufficiently robust to change and improve user perception and ultimately acceptance in order to keep a resource relevant and economically viable.

Energy Analysis for Preservation Projects: The Right Tools at the Right Times

by Dana Kose

Birch Bayh Federal Building & US Courthouse

Using the right energy modeling tools at the right time in the design process is especially important in historic preservation, no matter what type of preservation is being undertaken.

No Thermal Break, No Problem: Upgrading Kahn’s Stainless Steel Windows in the Richards Building

In this conference presentation, David Fixler and Matt Chalifoux discuss strategies for making a famously dysfunctional landmark work for science while respecting the original design vision.

Historic Preservation

Building Identity

Student Center Atrium

University of Houston

Student Center

The centerpiece of one of the largest campus transformations in the nation, this modernization and expansion project celebrates the University's evolution from a commuter campus to a nationally recognized Tier One research university. Our design more than doubles the size of the original building to enhance the campus experience.

Community Impact

Corporate Makeover

Adaptive use of this 100-year-old structure demonstrates GE’s commitment to celebrating its legacy, living its sustainable energy brand and cultivating an inspiring, creative workplace.

Energy Research Modernization Workplace Strategy