COFFEE BREAK RECAPS – Periodically, we will be bringing you recapitulations of our live “coffee break” videos, where Danielle and Jonathan address questions related to preservation and provide answers or brainstorm solutions. These recap posts will include additional information and resources. This month’s recap focuses on rising sea levels’ impacts on historic buildings and possible solutions. Watch below.
- Focus: The ever-increasing threat of flooding to historical buildings and properties caused by climate change (among other things) – after all, water is the enemy of historic structures
- Question: What can be done to protect historic buildings and districts – in a way that is also sensitive to preserving the historic-fabric – from rising sea levels?
- Solutions: Danielle and Jonathan discussed 3 possibilities:
- Make bottom levels of buildings “floodable” as is being attempted at the national level (see resources below for an example) – however, this still puts floors, doors, windows, trim, etc. at significant risk of damage and destruction.
- Consider elevating the building to a level high enough that it is less likely to need to be raised again, and treating the elevation similarly to a “sympathetic addition” – one that is new but whose style and materials are in keeping with the historic fabric of the rest of the building.
- Although relocation of the entire structure is also an option, it may be less desirable than the other options, as it is extremely costly and has other risks.
When it comes to flood mitigation in coastal or water-front communities, historic structures should not be forgotten
– DON’T THROW THE PROVERBIAL BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER.
- Our previous podcasts related to this topic, here (building elevation and relocation) and here (rising sea levels and general planning).
- The Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines on Flood Adaptation for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings
- The Secretary of the Interior’s New Exterior Additions to Historic Buildings for information on sympathetic additions (if considering elevating your home as a “sympathetic addition”)
- The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training’s example of a wet-flood-proofed structure
- Our coffee break guest also mentioned Dominique Hawkins – founder of Preservation Design Partnership – who provides information and workshops on flood mitigation planning. Read some of her documents here and here