Coffee Sketch Podcast

103 - Hybrid Historicism and the Role of Preservation

September 22, 2022 Kurt Neiswender/Jamie Crawley Season 4 Episode 103
Coffee Sketch Podcast
103 - Hybrid Historicism and the Role of Preservation
Show Notes Transcript

Thank you for listening. We both hope that you enjoyed this episode of Coffee Sketch Podcast. Our Theme music is provided by my brother who goes by @c_0ldfashioned on Instagram and Twitter. Our podcast is hosted at coffeesketchpodcast.com find more show notes and information from this episode. And finally, if you liked this episode please rate us on iTunes and share us with your friends! Thank you!


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Kurt Neiswender:

Hi, Jamie. How's it going? Good. How's it going?

Jamie Crawley:

How are you? It's it's always sort of strange cuz it's like, it's the intros, how, how how's Kirk gonna just like, line this one up and.

Kurt Neiswender:

I don't know, again, I will make a plea to the, to the listeners to comment in, at, at about anything comment about the introductions, the openings. I, I, I have small, a small range of, of, of, pre

Jamie Crawley:

hand gestures. Usually it's hand gestures. That's, that's, that's, that's the thing, we're doing a podcast, we are, we are on video, which is a whole new dynamic that we're gonna, we keep teasing that we're gonna explore more with the, drawing live and all that stuff, which I think we will do, here. Oh yeah. here very shortly. part of it has just been some logistic stuff.

Kurt Neiswender:

and yeah, we're

Jamie Crawley:

including this in my throat.

Kurt Neiswender:

I dunno what that is and where to put my hands. I don't know where to yeah, so, so we're, this will, this will wind up being 103. We are we've eclipsed, a hundred, 101, 102 are out there. We took a little break in case people were wondering what happened to their favorite two, sketching, podcasters. And, we're back. We're not, we haven't really gone anywhere physically. We are almost in the same geographic locations, latitude, longitude, all that stuff. But, anyway, I tech risk I have spent, which will we, we will talk about in, in, in the future episode or two that I, I will be in a new location soon. I it's, still, probably would ping on your iPhone in the same general neighborhood

Jamie Crawley:

as Flint

Kurt Neiswender:

we're. Yeah, we, we, bought another house in the same beautiful neighborhood in Flint, but we did a little, little, little trade up to a nice, a nice, a cool house, which I ha I'll have to get some pictures and sketches, which we'll talk about, but it, it is. and, and I'm hoping I've been scouring the archives for it is a been told to me that it's a Sears catalog house. So I'm trying to find the Sears catalog. listing for it. Well,

Jamie Crawley:

I have a resource that I will give you offline. but I think that's a good, it's a good segue to the sketch that we're gonna talk about today too. Mm-hmm about sort of, doing some homework and stuff like that, that sometimes I do sometimes I don't do. but yeah, there's an excellent, online resource library, through a P T. the association of observation, technologists or technology, I'm a member, but they have a great, their website is, it's, it's slowly growing. and there's parts of it that are, more robust than others, but one of the projects that they had done before I had, become a member, and one of the people I'm working with, on a different project, one of his, kind of initiatives, was this library of resources, and getting them all scanned. or collected from other scans and other libraries sort of, for the public, for public consumption. and so it's, how, and so the Sears catalogs and things like that, and then also product catalogs, like old CONAR catalogs. I mean, old tile catalogs, old, anything material related, that, might aid a design professional contractor. Yeah. Homeowner, commercial client, whatever, where they've got this historic property with, these incredible details. And they're like, we'd like to replicate them. or we'd like to learn a little bit more about them. and. where's, where's the be where's the best place to start kind of thing. And so what they, they took that as their premise was like, let's be the first place mm-hmm, for people to go and be a repository for that kind of information. And it's fantastic. I mean, it's just, they're just continuing to try and grow it. and so there's new, new stuff added all the time. but it's, effectively a volunteer effort, just like so many things in life. Yeah. labor love. Yeah. It, it, yeah. And it's, but it is neat. I mean, I, I, I don't use it, as much as I should sometimes. but then, there's certainly some projects where you're like, this, you stumble on a building in a, small town, Texas, and somebody has gone to the trouble 75, 80, 90 years ago, to have some amazing details. and you're like, I wanna know, somebody, somebody really designed this. and so how can I learn a little bit more about that material, that time period, what other things are applicable of that age? it's, it's great. So yeah, the Sears catalogs, there's a, there's a ton of them that are in there. so it's, it would be an, an easier 1, 1, 1 place to start mm-hmm than trying to, collect it from a bunch of different, sources and blogs and all that

Kurt Neiswender:

kind of stuff. Sure. Thanks. Yeah. the only other op option I knew of was archive.org, which I think, but that has almost too much stuff on it. Almost hard to find things cuz it's, it's got so many other, not non architectural

Jamie Crawley:

resources in there too. Yeah. This is, this is sort of like it's curated, so that's, that's the nice part about it.

Kurt Neiswender:

The, well, thanks. Thanks. Yeah. Yeah. I, I know it it's supposedly 1926, so we'll have to figure, we'll do a little, do a little, sleuthing,

Jamie Crawley:

some investigators. Well, and the, the other fun part about those catalogs too, and, and sort of data resources is, is looking at the, the hand drawn mm-hmm images that are, that are in there, kind of explaining how some of these things are made and, and how they were sort of crafted. And it's these beautiful sketches and drawings. so that can be a, certainly a rabbit hole as well.

Kurt Neiswender:

Yeah. I always like that too, is looking at cuz it's like a, a cell sheet. It's like a single sheet, a single page floor plan, perspective. Usually sometimes in elevation. And then a little bit of blurb, about the, and then the price

Jamie Crawley:

right, right.

Kurt Neiswender:

$2,500.

Jamie Crawley:

for the whole thing. So what's what, so what's in your cup today?

Kurt Neiswender:

Oh, so I, I, actually I went, I picked up some new rootless or local FLI guys, rootless coffee. they have one called coast, which is a light roast. and I'll have to, I, I forgot to bring up the bag, but the, it's a light roast and it is a Guatemala origin. So like me, it is a, has an origin of Guatemala, at least my mother right. Half, half of me

Jamie Crawley:

who listens

Kurt Neiswender:

sometimes. So she probably does. She, she finds us. Yeah. Luma, or Ola, Ola, ma Ola mama. Yes. Well, I'm

Jamie Crawley:

a bilingual, it's almost like you're checking with me about how you talk to your mom.

Kurt Neiswender:

I'm like I say, hi, ma. That's what I say. Hi, ma

Jamie Crawley:

Yeah. That's what I figured.

Kurt Neiswender:

Yeah. So the, yeah, what's cool though, is the, we'll to grab the bag on the next one, but the, the origin is way, way tengo, so Guatemala has a lot of cool indigenous names of cities, which are just fun to say, like, so it's it's way, way, tengo.

Jamie Crawley:

Have you ever been mm-hmm

Kurt Neiswender:

okay. Yeah, we were, the last time though is, so I, I, I believe I was taken there by my parents three times and, the, the oldest I was, was like seven, I think, seven or eight, somewhere around there. And so, the, I do remember, I don't remember any of the other trip. That was the only one I remember cuz I was

Jamie Crawley:

right. Yeah. So it's it's bits and pieces. So mm-hmm yeah,

Kurt Neiswender:

I go back, but there is some, some, some sort of political, I don't know what to call it. Dysfunction or challenges. And so I don't know. I try and, I would like to go back. I don't know. We'll, we'll see my mom's been back, but she's fluent in SP Spanish and looks a little more, local than I do even. So although I could probably pass, but anyway, long story short. So what about you? How, how are whether you got brewed today?

Jamie Crawley:

I've got the it's it's a, I'm not sure if I like it. this was one of those sort of random pickups. it was, it's an Austin, it says it's Austin based, but I haven't done my homework to find out, how Austin based it is. it's called chameleon and it has a, it's a, it's a, just a they're dark roast. And it's, it's nice. it, it doesn't have sort of that bitter AF aftertaste, sometimes you get with a dark roast. but, I think it's actually like one of those, when you have one of those, ghost kitchen kind of situations where, somebody's brewing it and, or, somebody's making it and then has multiple brands that they're selling it to. That's my suspicion, but.

Kurt Neiswender:

Relabeling

Jamie Crawley:

the sort, yeah, just relabeling. Yeah. Right.

Kurt Neiswender:

It's the, well, there's a business model, there's a business model for that sort of stuff. And, but that's cool. I did actually push a little promotion for our little city friends out there. So, our, we're friends of a lot of entree architect, people mark lip page. Yes. Yeah. Mm-hmm Jeff, Jeff, Les and Jeff, was doing his regular entree architect, sort of daily livestream. And the, Mark's Mark's entree architect program has coming to Austin in November, which I was hoping to go, but we're not gonna go now. Oh. But it, I think I told you anyway, I hope I did and now, sorry, we're not gonna come. We're not gonna visit JB. Maybe another time. But, but Jeff is a big coffee drinker. And so he was looking for recommendations for local Austin coffee. So I threw out the little city. Yeah. Oh yeah. Particularly the crackle yes. Is a, is a, is a fave of the podcast. So, so yeah. Well, good deal. I'll have to, I'll have to get you in touch with Jeff and maybe you can take him to some good barbecue and,

Jamie Crawley:

and good coffee

Kurt Neiswender:

and, and, and some coffee.

Jamie Crawley:

No. Yep. Yeah, actually, our, our friend Wyatt, has now moved back to Boston, Austin. Oh, that's right. And, and so he, and I will be having some coffee here, soon. So.

Kurt Neiswender:

Excellent. Yeah. Good. Yeah. Say hi to, for me. Yeah. He, he got a new job I believe. And, yes, and a new city, so, yep.

Good

Jamie Crawley:

for him. He's back. So

Kurt Neiswender:

that's good. You got him

Jamie Crawley:

back yeah.

Kurt Neiswender:

Well you wanna jump into our drawing?

Jamie Crawley:

Yeah. speaking of Texas let's, let's talk about, yeah. Kind of one that, that jumped out at you, from the last few weeks. Yeah. Yeah. And, yeah, so this one, I'll just sort of dive into it just at least from the preface of it. Well,

Kurt Neiswender:

first at least say I'm always, I'm, I'm, I'm always a sucker for like the abstract sketches. Right. And so yes, we, I was like, well, we have to talk

Jamie Crawley:

about this one. Yeah. You're like this one really jumped up. Yeah.

Kurt Neiswender:

I love that. But yes. You, you also said that you are a big fan of the, the, the existing building on the left. Yeah. For those that are looking, watching along. As opposed to the abstract drawing to the right,

Jamie Crawley:

so well, and, and it's, it, it, it's all sort of, it's all one sketch. and, it, it, some of it for me is process thinking. you were asking sort of like, how, how do, how do I get to that multiplicity of forms and lines and spaces? And we've talked about it almost like an automatic drawing before and, and different things like that. but a lot of it for me is it's, I imagine it in my, in, in my description of it as sort of a left brain, right. Brain, like where you're, almost. analyzing something and then at the same time, switching gears and trying to free up that, that analytical mind into, thinking about the problem differently. and, and just sort of letting that kind of creativity flow. so there's, there's an element to that. just process wise, I think. but yeah, the building on the left, is building in Goli ad, Texas. it's a national register property, national register, historic places, built, it's over a hundred years old, two stories, and then it has a basement, as well, which is sort of a little bit rare in Texas, of course. The, the bank building, is now, and it was built as a bank, so has sort of Corinthian columns, real kind of stately front, real kind of classic, details of that period. but the city, has brought me, brought me down to look at the building cause they, they own it now and it's empty. It's been empty for at least 20 years. Wow. and they, they only just acquired it. so it's like those moments where you go back into the building and it's sort of going back in time, are, it's probably more like 30 years, 40 years worth of stuff back in there, but, there's no, there's no accessible route into the building. you can see sort of the, the steps on the front there, going up to kind of the, the raised first level, and then there's a, a second story and a roof. and so some of the, some of the early questions that they had were, how do we, how do we repurpose this building? Like, what are some of the considerations it's historic? It has, it really only has the, the main facade. it's on a corner. so there is a building next to it on, on the left. It's actually where the bank moved into another building. and but then it has, it does have a backside, a back facade, that carries a lot of the details around the corner. Mm-hmm but, is effectively off the courthouse square. And so that's where, we did a little bit of exploring and, and thinking about it. And, and that's what you're seeing in the sketches on the bottom is me sort of exploring this idea of a modern edition on the backside, like a saddle bag mm-hmm to, to, to the building, creating more of an accessible entry, a place to put services, bathroom, elevator, and kind of what, what those proportions might be, what those materials might be. And then, and then letting those ideas about solving that problem sort of spill over into. what does the inside of this building start to do? Because a lot of there, there is a fair amount of detail that's still present, but then a lot of it has been changed over those a hundred years. none of the original woodwork is really it, some of it's upstairs is there, but a lot of the architectural details that you would expect of a building of this period, isn't, so it, it, it's a, it's a bit of a shell. so there is some opportunities to explore, other possibilities for it. Mm-hmm while we're, while revealing the history at the same time. Mm-hmm and, and they, and they're not in a big hurry, which is, I mean, of course they wanna get moving on the project, but they're not, it's not a commercial client that's, this is, this is one where they've, effectively been, gifted the building so that they can yeah. And there's the building in real life and actually giving a tour, Jamie on the, on the megaphone both are. Yeah. but yeah, no, so it's, it's a really interesting project and you can see, it's like, what's, what's funny is yeah. You can see that the building that they, the bank moved into. clearly, I don't, I wouldn't call that the, the upgrade personally but, right. Anyways, yeah, this is a, this is, this is, this is the type of work that, that, that I'm, I, I, I particularly enjoy, in, in the work that I'm doing right now, but this is, this is a fun one. it's, And it, and, and a lot of it again is thinking through things in a sketch. So that's a lot of the, the, the line work and spaces on the, I'm, I'm thinking about it almost like programming spaces. and then the, some of those programming spaces become almost architectural elements. Mm-hmm as you're kind of working through. And so plan almost becomes section and, there's a couple vaults in the building, which is, those are always fun to play with. cuz like from a construction point, those aren't going anywhere. Right. that's there's at that point there's no use in imagining those things gone in the plan, so yeah.

Kurt Neiswender:

yeah, the, I, yeah, we we've I'll often talk about some of the, the. Concepts that you have for, for your, preservation work. And, it, it's a lot of fun because in a, in a nutshell, right, the, the idea is, is generally to not copycat the existing building, especially when it's a registered landmark. And so, you're sort of two options of the addition on, on the bottom here, where you have different versions of adding onto the building, sort of reflecting some of the proportions of the existing building, but also taking on a, a, a new, a new look, because it's based on, like you said, the equipment needs like an elevator and other sort of access issues, and connections into the existing floor plates and things like that. And so it has to, it should reflect what its purpose is, but also not. Copycat or mimic the existing building, to where it, it, you can't tell if it was an addition or not. So, so that's fun, and I, I, I, I like the idea, also too with, we have a lot of buildings like this in, in Michigan, in Flint, in Detroit where the, the shell be, they build these things pretty relatively robustly. And, but the interiors either have been sort of, modified over time, the seventies had a weird opinion about Yeah. There's you could always tell the era of some of these renovations inside, the choice, there's the choice of materials and, and, like simulated

Jamie Crawley:

wood paneling. Yeah. You're like,

Kurt Neiswender:

And somewhat of a disregard of, of, of any kind of proportion, but

Jamie Crawley:

you're like, why is Masonite so popular in 1971? or

Kurt Neiswender:

whatever. But so then, but then having your, your, your, what we, we kind of called the abstract sketch or the, the sort of the free thinking, drawing to the, to the right side here, but interesting, if you had a shell and could propose sort of a repurpose inside of a shell, right? So you have the, the envelope and then the interior, and like sort of freeing the existing structure from what used to be the physical layout. Right. floor to floor layout, but could be totally something different, re reimagining, especially if the program changes, right. your bank, client moves next door, who knows. Who could occupy, and this is actually something we should, we should probably touch on in the near future. We have a building, the old Masonic temple here in Flint, which, my client on another project, I'm working on other things for this client, not this building. Hopefully I would love to get, involved on, on the old Masonic temple, but it has, the, the purposes of the ma the masons, right? So I had these, gathering rooms and, meeting rooms. So these large auditorium spaces, but could that building be, and it's much bigger also registered. they recently redid the windows, which was nice. Anyway, so I, I kind of digress, but like I could totally see something fun and different going on inside that, speaks to a new program that is not the old bank so

Jamie Crawley:

well, and that's the thing. I think that's the, the thing that's sort of the unfortunate misnomer of, of preservation work, and it, and it's, and it's, and I think it's brought about by people who are, I think probably characterize more staunch preservationists. someone who's a a or, they call them trads or traditionalists or, whatever, and, and yeah, there's, there's that, if it's like a spectrum they're at definitely at, at, at a, a, a very far end of it. but I think that the reality of these buildings is yes, you want to do, you don't want people doing bad things to their buildings. not just because of the things that they're destroying in terms of history of a, or a built history, I should say. but, oftentimes they're, they're, they're doing things to their buildings because they're gonna create more maintenance problems over time. they're, they're doing things that are just, you wouldn't let people do, if you're thinking of it as an investment, spending good money, for, for bad things. I mean, it's like, that's why would you encourage that? but the, I think the flip side is sort of what, what you're talking about is the reality of a lot of these buildings is they are under utilized, but they, they in a lot of cases are built relatively well. and with a little bit better maintenance and a little bit more, thought put into how they could be used today, in new uses, in creative ways. then now you're talking about, climate action, that's the thing that I think, that's the intersection that I really wanna see more of is preservation and, sustainability, goals are not mutually exclusive and anybody who's, who takes that position, I think is really missing the point. the recycling of these buildings is not about, taking them down and recycling the site. It's about, being, putting our design hats on and being creative. this is the challenge that I wanna see architectural education take on is anywhere in the country, and with buildings that are, stories that aren't being told, like why is that, think about all the churches that get raised, because, tax rates, change communities, move communities, get, whatever, but the, that building's still there. That building still has a story, why can't they can't, let's not raise that building. Let's let's creatively adaptively reuse the building, as an example, yeah. That's, and cuz there's preservation in that, of course there is, a certain level of building that you're like, no, we have to preserve, this because of its built history and because of the stories associated with it or the events that occurred there or, that's different. but I think to, to paint it with one big broad brush that, it must be traditional and therefore, must have all of these elements preserved to, a certain degree. That's that's missing the point. Yeah. it like what you were just saying in, in appreciating that drawing at the bottom and sort of thinking about it, I guess in terms of your students is like, yeah, that addition on the back is almost subservient to the main building. it's set back, it's dropped lower. it picks up the proportions so that it it's nodding towards, that history, but it's distinct and that's in that's intentional. if is it too distinct? is it, too different? That's an argument, that's a debate to be had. I'm not saying that these are the solutions, these aren't the final solutions to begin with it's process. Yeah. but you have to kind of get the ideas down on the page and that's, that's why I sketch.

Kurt Neiswender:

Yeah. And start to start the conversation, which we just did, which

Jamie Crawley:

you saw me on the Bullhorn doing with that audience as well.

Kurt Neiswender:

So yeah, we should, we should switch to that. there's not enough pictures of Jamie and a Bullhorn. Exactly. And, we need, we need a little more of that, so that, that probably will be our thumbnail for the, for this one. But yeah, this is great. I, I, I hope to hear more about it as it goes and we'll have to bring up, there's a couple of examples here at Flint that we'll have to talk about soon. One, one other building also has a really interesting, feature that will, should be, something. Well, anyway, it will be something that is gonna have to be explored because there's some, damage to it. And so there's needs to be addressed before it, it creates more of a, a big problem. So, these are the kinds of things that we do talk about in architecture often. So yeah, it all right. Well, I think, before I figure out a poor way to end this, I will

Jamie Crawley:

well, no, I mean, it's time for another cup of coffee, so I'll let you go. Exactly. And, yeah, this was fun.