January 4, 2012 In the Absence of Evidence You Research and Speculate?and hope everyone agrees
We do our best at HBI to reposition historic buildings based upon what physical evidence we can find on site and what documentary research will tell us. Unfortunately, the available record is all too often incomplete and we are simply left to speculate. In the absence of good photographs or written documentation we have to do our best to make design and construction decisions based on limited context, research, expert opinions and guess work.
Speculative preservation design and development is more than just an academic debate; it carries financial and legal consequences for those engaged in historic rehabilitation. A number of Local, State and Federal agencies have approval authority over project design and treatments, and ideas about what might have been based on Local, State and Federal standards and criteria ? which may not always prioritize the same things. Further, when a building is exceptionally significant, opinions about these things can be particularly strident.
We have been running up against those tensions at the 1875Hayden Building project, HH Richardson?s only remaining commercial project in Boston On the first floor of the LaGrange street elevation is a large opening blocked by a reddish stucco panel that conceals some of the modern improvements from our preservation intervention in the late 1990?s.