Restoration

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.

Restoration Diary: Asbestos Remediation. (But Look, Old Photos!)

Posted on: January 17th, 2012 by David Garber

 


The building as it looks today. See below for the before shots. (Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Bee Beep Rrrrrrrrrrrr. We interrupt this program to bring you an important news bulletin: minus the addition of some plastic sheeting and removal of some floor tiles, not much has changed at ye olde Lionel Lofts since our last update. Fortunately for your friendly neighborhood National Trust blogger, when I went over to take some new pictures, the key was missing from the lock box and I was unable to enter. Turns out it's asbestos and lead paint remediation time. Probably for the best that I didn't breathe all that in.

But don't click away thinking I've left you empty handed. Voila, a fascinating window (literally?) into the old Lionel Trains shop of the 1970s.

Stay tuned for more Restoration Diary soon. Next up: interior demolition. Get excited for the crumbling walls to come tumbling down. (While carefully preserving key character-enhancing elements, of course.)

David Garber is the blog editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.

 

As part of the blog's first Restoration Diary feature, I'll be tracking the progress at the Lionel Lofts adaptive reuse restoration project in Washington, DC's Logan Circle neighborhood. This specific development project, in which a timeworn and underutilized three-story main street commercial building (c. 1905) is being transformed by local development duo CAS Riegler into condos and restaurant space, was chosen because of its relatability for communities across the country, and, as fortune and strategy would have it, its close proximity to the National Trust HQ. Almost every historic town and city has buildings like this one, and I am excited to follow the construction process from start to finish.


Lionel Lofts is located on the fast-changing 14th Street, NW, and neighbors a mix of retailers, residences, and restaurants.

As you can see, the building isn't exactly a Roman ruin, but neither has it been loved in any real way for a while. Check out the 70s paneling and heavy window-grate security below. Worked for the Lionel Trains / Lock & Key shop that used the space before, but not so much for the chic urban restaurant (to be announced later) moving in.


The 1970s is not the decade that will be preserved as construction continues.

The building takes up the entire lot from sidewalk to alley. While the front half was the store and display area, the back half was used for storage and garage space, and - while clearly still needing a lot of work - already has the ceiling height and exposed raw elements that will be revealed on the entire first floor soon.... 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.