Design News: Historic Maine building devastated by fire is finally renewed by New York Firm Present Architecture
The 660 Congress Street at Portland, Maine was luckily in the hands of the talented firm Present Architecture after being abandoned for many years due to fire damage. The building had been exposed to an extensive water damage that nearly everything was destroyed, down to the brick!
New York firm Present Architecture decided to take advantage of its historic facade to rebuild a new one within the existing brick walls. The design of the apartments was a trace of the silhouettes of the mansard roof with gently curving walls.
The entire structure was rethought to provide open apartment layouts and a column- free commercial space. On a perspective of improving the existing elements, the architects created a modern interior with expansive skylights, to bring light into the spaces.
“The fire presented a clean slate, and the approach was to create a new design aware of the past, but not bound to it”
On the ground floor and basement you’re able to find commercial spaces and, at the upper floors, a pair of two-bedroom apartments. In other areas, fragments of the building‘s history were left untouched like arched doorways, original brick work, fireplace and fire escapes that were converted to balconies for the apartments.
Present Architecture created commercial spaces on the lower level that now include storefronts to display merchandise and let more light in, making contrast with the intricate restored brick and terracotta facade.
The new residential also features a blackened steel staircase with solid white oak treads that leads up to the residential units. These stairs have thin industrial lines of steal, casting shadows from the overhead skylights.
On the architecture of this building they used only high quality materials and building methods to reinforce the ambitions of this renovation.
“Many of the modern improvements are hidden from view, such as new HVAC and utilities, code compliant structural work, and upgraded environmental and life safety systems”