The rehabilitation and renovation of historic structures are as complex as some of the buildings themselves. Old materials, code requirements and budgets are just some of the challenges that make historic renovations an intricate process.
ADC is one of South Carolina’s leading structural engineering companies with extensive historic experience. Mark Dillon, principal structural engineer, led ADC’s structural engineering effort on the renovation of Charleston’s Dock Street Theatre. Dock Street Theatre was built in 1809 and in 2010 the theatre received a $19 million renovation that included updating the seismic strength of the existing theatre while also structuring new theatrical features to enhance the building’s use. Mr. Dillon also was the principal-in-charge for the renovation of Charleston City Hall, a federal building built between 1800 and 1804 at the “Four Corners of Law” within the Charleston Historic District.
With these two projects, and all rehabilitated and renovated historic properties, there are three main challenges posed to clients and engineers:
The cost of updating buildings that are up to 300 years old to meet current code requirements is expensive. Performing analysis meetings with code officials and completely understanding what kind of upgrade will be required gives the engineers the necessary information to make sensible design decisions that can reduce the construction costs. Knowing what questions to ask and what solutions make the most sense comes with experience. ADC has been making these decisions for over 24 years.
Fitting new structural elements necessary for the building’s safety without compromising the program’s use for the building. The greatest engineers become great by finding ways of stretching the possibilities and being creative. ADC takes time to understand the use of the building and using creative, proven solutions to achieve the upgrade with the building’s purpose in mind.
Dealing with historic materials and construction methods. There’s the old saying, “They just don’t make things the way the used to,” and no one knows that more than structural engineers. Combining old products with modern materials is tricky and often not an option. Having the knowledge of historic product types in the area and how to deal with those conditions is crucial to the project.
ADC continues to advance its expertise in designing historical buildings for renovations and rehabilitations. ADC understands the architectural challenges of updating older structures and relies on its creativity, knowledge and experience to reveal a building’s original beauty while eliminating its old imperfections.