Brick by Brick – Preserving the character

One of the goals for our historic warehouse renovation is to celebrate the building’s concrete foundations, which have a unique wood-grain-texture surface, as well as the building’s 12-inch-thick brick walls. Both materials are exposed inside and out. While solid and durable in appearance, they’re actually quite fragile and must be treated with caution.

The original concrete foundation walls and structural support were created in rapid succession, leaving random separations between each pour of concrete. Our design team wanted to highlight the texture of the walls by leaving them exposed with only a single coat of paint. This lets some of the historic character of the concrete and historical markings on the walls shine through the ground floor.

The inside of the upper level had been exposed brick in the early days of the building, but the majority of the warehouse interior had been painted white at some time in its history. Low pressure from a power washer was successful in bringing back the red brick at the east side of warehouse, but the west side was too soft for power washing. It’s been cleaned and resealed to bring out the texture of the brick in contrast with the new interior offices.

The exterior façade of the building has been damaged and repaired many times. Trucks had backed into the building, damaging the original brick in several places. This was repaired with a different style of brick in a different color. Historic buildings deserve to be repaired in a manner that honors the original character and native materials. That’s what we’re doing. Our construction team has removed the mismatched brick, replacing it with historic brick from the building where new openings were created. The historic brick was pieced into place using mortar carefully matched to the original. In total, 28 test batches of mortar were produced to match the original. The repairs are nearly impossible to spot and will age and wear much like the original structure.

Our work at the site is part preservation and part adaptation to a new use. With patience and great care, we will achieve our goal.