Identifying the historic building's character-defining
spaces, features, and finishes so that code-required
work will not result in their damage or loss.
Complying with health and safety codes, including
seismic code requirements, in such a manner that character-defining
spaces, features, and finishes are preserved.
This small-scale stairtower on a nonsignificant
rear elevation is compatible with the historic
character of the building. Photo: NPS files.
Removing toxic building materials only after thorough
testing has been conducted and only after less invasive
abatement methods have been shown to be inadequate.
Providing workers with appropriate personal protective
equipment for hazards found in the worksite.
Working with local code officials to investigate
systems, methods, or devices of equivalent or superior
effectiveness and safety to those prescribed by code
so that unnecessary alterations can be avoided.
Upgrading historic stairways and elevators to meet
health and safety codes in a manner that assures their
preservation, i.e., so that they are not damaged or
In undertaking rehabilitation work on historic
buildings, it is necessary to consider the impact
that meeting current health and safety codes will
have on character-defining spaces, features, and
finishes. This stair enclosure preserves the
decorative staircase and also meets the safety
code. Photo: NPS files.
Installing sensitively designed fire suppression
systems, such as sprinkler systems that result in retention
of historic features and finishes.
Applying fire-retardant coatings, such as intumescent
paints, which expand during fire to add thermal protection
Adding a new stairway or elevator to meet health
and safety codes in a manner that preserves adjacent
character-defining features and spaces.
Placing a code-required stairway or elevator that
cannot be accommodated within the historic building
in a new exterior addition. Such an addition should
be on an inconspicuous elevation.
Undertaking code-required alterations to a building
or site before identifying those spaces, features, or
finishes which are character-defining and must therefore
Altering, damaging, or destroying character-defining
spaces, features, and finishes while making modifications
to a building or site to comply with safety codes.
Destroying historic interior features and finishes
without careful testing and without considering less
invasive abatement methods.
Removing unhealthful building materials without regard
to personal and environmental safety.
Making changes to historic buildings without first
exploring equivalent health and safety systems, methods,
or devices that may be less damaging to historic spaces,
features, and finishes.
Damaging or obscuring historic stairways and elevators
or altering adjacent spaces in the process of doing
work to meet code requirements.
Covering character-defining wood features with fire-resistant
sheathing which results in altering their visual appearance.Using
fire-retardant coatings if they damage or obscure character-defining
Radically changing, damaging, or destroying character-defining
spaces, features, or finishes when adding a new code-required
stairway or elevator.
Constructing a new addition to accommodate code-required
stairs and elevators on character-defining elevations
highly visible from the street; or where it obscures,
damages, or destroys character-defining features.
This new stairtower addition on a historic university
building has been constructed on a highly visible
side elevation. Together with its contrasting
color and size, it obscures the historic form
and roofline. Photo: Martha L. Werenfels, AIA.