Overall page navigation start option: INTRODUCTION: What is the Historic Character? STEP ONE: Identify the building's overall visual aspects STEP TWO: Identify the close range visual aspects STEP THREE: Identify the interior visual aspects Introduction to Identify the Historic Character QUIZ
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Individual Space: Look Inside the Building
This graphic Number 3 is non-navigational This is an image of an individually important space that is defined by its size, twin curving staircases, massive columns, and curving vaulted ceilings. Photo: National Portrait Gallery.
Look at the Building's Individual Space
Look at the Building's Related Spaces
Look at the Building's Interior Features
Look at the Building's Surface Materials + Finishes
Look at the Building's Exposed Structural Elements
Visual Character Check List checklist
Walk Through Historic Buildings

ASK
Is this an individual space that is extremely important to the interior visual character? Yes.

LOOK + IDENTIFY
Here, the character is defined by a combination of its size, the twin curving staircases, the massive columns and curving vaulted ceilings, in addition to the quality of the materials in the floor and in the stairs.

WHAT IF THIS SPACE IS ALTERED?
It is easy to see that if the ceiling were lowered for heating ducts, or if the stairways were to be enclosed for code reasons, the shape and character of this space would be lost, even if there was no permanent physical damage.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Preserve character-defining individual spaces in the process of rehabilitating a historic building for a continuing or new use!


This is an image of a modest stair hall with a utilitarian stair, slender newel post and handrail, paneled dor, wood wainscoting, and simple trim. Photo: NPS files.

LOOK at this modest stair hall to appreciate its visual character. Remember, a simple or utilitarian interior can have just as much--or more--character as a grand space. Note how the utilitarian stair, slender newel post and handrail, paneled door, wood wainscoting, and simple trim define the space and also emphasize its overall verticality. The spatial character could easily be changed by dropping the ceiling. Adding a more elaborate newel post and handrail would upset the delicate balance of its architectural components.

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Identifying Visual Character