One of the greatest challenges that institutions face moving forward is how to best leverage and breathe new life into multiple existing buildings that are at the end of their service life. In some cases these buildings are torn down and new buildings are designed to take their place. However, this cannot be the solution for every situation and careful consideration must be given to which buildings are renovated vs. replaced.
In most cases the conditions of existing laboratory buildings that Payette encounters are over fifty years old. Mechanical and electrical systems have not been replaced since their original construction and institutions have done their best to keep the buildings running for years on end. The interiors include an extreme level of accumulation that would benefit from a good spring cleaning.
However, below all of these layers is often an amazing building that has incredible latent potential that is ready to be harvested for the next generation of researchers. Existing buildings from the 1950s and 1960s were constructed at a time when good craftsman still existed, but not yet at the mercy of lighter building practices that affected so many buildings during the 1970s and beyond.
The essence of these buildings is often best seen just after demolition when the bones of the building are once again exposed since their original construction. This moment often yields amazing and beautiful spaces that rival some of our best buildings of today that continue to try and seek open loft spaces for science. Our job as architects is to see beyond the accumulation of years of building occupancy and the potential that these buildings have to offer.