Both historic and vintage structures form a large body of our firm’s work, with building renovations and expansions in particular being a mainstay of our firm’s practice. We are fanatical about restoring and the maintenance of vintage buildings as a means of maintaining a connection to our past and heritage. We are, at the same time, history buffs and contemporary architects, so we enjoy the challenge of taking what is old and creating something out of it that is both new and fresh, but that builds on what’s already there.
Historic Preservation and Restoration and Renovations
Understanding the Secretary of State’s preservation standards, the application process for obtaining both state and federal historic tax credits, best practices in preservation construction technology, investigative techniques in determining missing historic fabric, and understanding best practices in traditional construction methods are a few key elements to our successful historic preservation and restoration projects.
In renovation projects or additions, one of the things we are very careful and feel very strongly about is to understand the innate character of the existing building – whether it be considered historically significant or not. Most every building has certain virtues, original design intentions, etc. that each subsequent renovation can respect and build upon so that the building continues to become a better building. We take great care in creating building additions which build upon and enhance the inherent qualities of the existing building.
Our historic restoration projects include some of the most significant residential projects in the Kansas City area. We are one of the area’s leading architects working in this market restoring some of Kansas City’s finest and most gracious properties in historic neighborhoods. Piper-Wind Architects has been working on residential and housing projects in the historically distinct neighborhoods of Kansas City and beyond since our founding in 1996. We’ve worked on hundreds of residential projects of varying sizes, budgets and complexity in typically older urban or mid-town neighborhoods.
Historic Neighborhood Preservation
We have also been involved in several neighborhood planning efforts that lend perhaps a different perspective as we develop contextually appropriate designs. We look carefully at the context in which a building is situated to understand how its creation or modification might impact the surroundings. This is called contextual design and is important so that the human experience outside the building, for both those using the building and those that are passersby, is a positive one.
Principal Eric Piper has presented in front of the National League of Cities in DC, Kansas City’s Mid-American Regional Council’s First Suburbs Coalition and St. Louis County’s Economic Development Council, among others, on the topic of infill housing. We have also served as residential planning experts for several local and regional planning efforts, written City zoning ordinances/design standards related to infill housing, and has served on a City Planning Commission which developed housing preservation standards. Thus, not only do we feel we have a good grasp on housing as a building type, but understand the community context in which new infill housing would typically be a part of.
In our practice, we try to pursue those projects that we are passionate about. We are passionate about the urban infill housing building type. We also believe that it is one of the most important housing typologies of the 21st century and have immersed ourselves in the planning, design, and governance issues important to it.
Since renovations have always been a large part of the firm’s project experience, retrofitting existing facilities to provide accessible accommodations has always been a part of the practice. Oftentimes, the successful accessible design project is one that is not readily apparent within the context of the historic structure. Many of PWA’s historic design projects have been extensive, but almost invisible, modifications to civic structures to meet current accessible design sensibilities.