The idea is to take buildings that may have seen better days and revive them by reimagining their potential. The advantages are many, including putting a fallow building back to work while preserving a community’s visual aesthetic.
Working with an old structure is a constant dance between saving and demolishing. Striking the right balance can extend a building’s life for a long time while protecting the history of the place. To do this well takes a committed and patient client; a sensitive, creative and visionary architect; skilled tradesmen; and a whole lot of hard work.
Recently, The Omnia Group Architects had the privilege (and pleasure) of repurposing a bank building, originally built in 1874. A series of additions and renovations over the years, dating from 1923, resulted in a mish-mash of spaces.
The building was operated most recently by Wachovia, who then sold it at auction to Hatboro Borough. Hatboro Federal Savings Bank, a terrific local corporate citizen, bought the building from the Borough and hired us to adapt it into administrative offices.
We began with an exhaustive space and structural analysis and determined that to maximize its utility, most of the post 1923 additions needed to be removed. This included several vaults, the roof and the back 2/3 of the building. What remained are the magnificent stone façade and companion side walls.
The building had slowly revealed several architecturally significant features, which we were able to incorporate into the new design:
- Old safety deposit box doors - little steel and brass gems - polished and numbered, were placed on the wall of the main entry as a decorative feature.
- The fabulous (and fabulously heavy) old vault door was salvaged and is being displayed in the main hallway.
- An ornate 12 foot diameter oval wood trim ring, hidden for decades above a fake ceiling and discovered during demolition, was salvaged and will now adorn the ceiling of the new office space
- Beautiful hand built, thick, paneled doors - which used to be the main entry doors - were hidden behind a wall. They are in perfect shape and still feature the stenciled hours of operation on their face. They are being reused as the doors to the main board room. This board room also features exposed and repointed original stone. And the conference table may be made from wood salvaged from the building.
Working with an old structure is a constant dance between saving and demolishing. Striking the right balance can extend a building’s life for a long time while protecting the history of the place. To do this well takes a committed and patient client; a sensitive, creative and visionary architect; skilled tradesmen; and a whole lot of hard work. But done well, the results can (and in this case I believe will) be astonishing.
At the Omnia Group Architects, we encourage our clients to share their design dreams and desires with us. That includes spotting a diamond in the rough that had a proud past, and bringing it back to life.