Restoration

Restoration Diary: Joists and Belgian Waffles

Posted on: June 5th, 2012 by David Garber 1 Comment

 

The big news at Lionel Lofts over the past month -- during which time not a lot of *visual* progress has been made, save for the new foundation wall in the back of the building -- is that the retail space has been leased to "B Too," a new concept from Belgian chef Bart Vandaele, who has built a following at the Capitol Hill neighborhood's popular brunch spot Belga Café.

 
Even cooler is the news that all of the building's original joists will be reused inside the restaurant. The boards will be taken offsite to be cleaned and treated, but will retain a rustic looks inside the new space.

The Washington Post revealed some exciting details on the restaurant space last month:

The ground floor of the 150-seat restaurant, a former locksmith shop, will feature a waffle bar and breakfast by day and frites served through a window at night. To access the private dining room in the basement of B Too, diners will descend on a glass stairway that will make visible the contents of the wine and beer cellar. Open kitchens will distinguish both floors.

Guess we still have a few Restoration Diary posts to go before this great building adaptation is complete...

More information on this development project can be found on the Lionel Lofts website.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Restoration Diary: Underpinning the Foundation Walls

Posted on: April 24th, 2012 by David Garber 1 Comment

 

Although things don't *look* all that different inside the future Lionel Lofts building on DC's 14th Street, NW, there's been a fair amount of important progress expanding the basement to the back of the building and underpinning (extending and strengthening) the foundation.

As you can see in the photos below, underpinning is dirty work -- but doing this the right way will ensure that the restored and adapted building will stay standing for as long as it's used and treasured.


More information on this development project can be found on the Lionel Lofts website.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Restoration Diary: Enter Heavy Machinery

Posted on: March 27th, 2012 by David Garber

 

Construction is moving forward at a steady clip at the Lionel Lofts commercial-to-condo project on DC's 14th Street, NW. The current stage: excavation. Although the building takes up the entire lot between the sidewalk and the alley, the basement level only extends about three quarters of the way back - and that's dirt that has already been leased by a restaurant so it needs to be dug up and trucked out.

Although you can't really tell from the above photo (scroll down to see more), there's now a gap between the original building and the original garage, which had been filled in along the way and will eventually be filled in again with a contemporary addition.

Because there aren't any real floors left in the building, this is the comforting view from the storefront entrance. In the photo below, you can see some of the hand-hewn, rough-cut detail in the remaining original floor joists. Although these kinds of details are typically hidden beneath floorboards, it's an interesting contrast from the now machine-made boards available for purchase today. ... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Restoration Diary: Inside Out (Gutted Building Alert!)

Posted on: March 6th, 2012 by David Garber 7 Comments

 

I've gotta say, I wasn't 100% prepared for what I saw the last time I went inside the future Lionel Lofts condos on 14th Street NW in Washington, DC. I like to think I'm as progressive a preservationist as it gets: strip the plaster down the the brick? Go for it - and hurry up! Add an uber-modern addition to the side of an old building? Of course! It'll highlight the old and bring a fresh look to the street. But there's a personality to older places, and I still feel something when part of that is lost.

Here at Lionel Lofts, there will be a fantastic exterior restoration, and - like we knew all along - a mostly new interior and rear addition. We're in the operating table stage now, which is why it feels a little more dramatic.

But seriously: THIS IS STILL EXCITING. I mean, check out all the debris and dust and concrete and bricks that are going away to make the space more clean and open and restaurant-friendly.

Exciting, yes. But that's not to say that when I walked into the Lofts building last week to check out the progress, I didn't have one of those "wow"/stomach sinks to the floor moments. Because I did. I mean, the floors were gone, and with them one of my favorite discoveries: the brick fireplaces on both of the upper levels. (But look! You can see the smoke trails running up the wall showing where the chimneys were.)... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Restoration Diary: Gutting and Exposing the Upstairs

Posted on: February 15th, 2012 by David Garber 3 Comments

 

Gutting. It's kind of a bad word in some preservation circles. But in the case of Lionel Lofts, most of the interior walls and surfaces weren't original to the building: drywall, dropped ceilings, and carpet that would make me fear for my life if I walked on it barefoot.

As you can see ... EXPOSED BRICK! Although in most cases exposed brick was never intended to be exposed, it's a trend that adds warmth and character to building interiors and isn't likely to go away any time soon. For capital H historic buildings, keep the plaster. For lofts in a cool-and-old-but-not-necessarily-historic-building on a hot restaurant corridor, exposing brick isn't exactly a deal breaker.

Removing the plaster also exposed some 10-Commandments-shaped brick details in the walls (above). Anyone have an explanation for these? They don't tie into anything on the inside, but don't look like they were windows, either.

Demolition is a dusty job. But someone's gotta do it. While wearing air purifying masks.

During an intensive demo such as this, spraying a mist of water over the debris is an effective way to minimize airborne particulate matter, AKA all the stuff I was breathing in since I wasn't wearing a mask.

Goodbye, old pipes.

At this point you're probably wondering: "Are they saving anything??" Yes, but not much. The floor joists, elaborate radiators, and things like cool old cast iron sinks are being salvaged. But otherwise, the interiors will be pretty much brand new. Inside the old exterior, of course.

Mid-way through demo on the second floor...

And almost done with demo on the second floor. Notice a difference in ceiling height?

I thought this was a neat juxtaposition of places where the exterior has been opened and closed over time. From left to right: original window, new(ish ... very much ish) air conditioner unit, and old doorway, now bricked up.

As you can see above, the garage space is currently being used to sort and store demolition debris. Although the demo to this point has taken place only on the top two levels, hammers will hit the first floor retail space starting later this week.

David Garber is the blog editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. More information on this development project can be found on the Lionel Lofts website.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.