Chapter 7: Balancing Collection Storage with Historic Buildings

Nancy McCoy, FAIA, FAPT, Quimby McCoy Preservation Architecture, LLP, 3200 Main Street #3.6, Dallas, Texas 75226

The reuse of a historic building for collection storage presents some special challenges.  In addition to understanding and accepting constraints the existing building may impose on the new use, one must also understand its history and significance, the designations and regulations that will govern changes to the building, and other considerations necessary to protect it from inappropriate changes or adverse affects. An understanding of the goals for the preservation of the historic building must be balanced with the goals for preservation of the collection. Finding this balance involves an evaluation process to encourage compatibility between building and use.  This evaluation should happen before the building is acquired for, or committed to, this purpose. Understanding the implications of the reuse before commitment can prevent a forced fit with undesirable compromises. This chapter describes a methodology for evaluating the compatibility between the historic building and collection storage. The methodology includes the consideration of  1) use with respect to space allocation, structural loading, the building envelope and collection environmental criteria; 2) mechanical and other building systems; 3) building code compliance; and 4) special maintenance needs.

Keywords: historic preservation, historic building, compatibility, mechanical systems