Can Classical And Modern Architecture Coexist?

Can Classical And Modern Architecture Coexist?

December 6, 2021

Heavy debate exists over the potential relationship between classical and modern architecture. Although differences in style and form are most apparent, the materials used in classic, or historic, architecture differ greatly from those used in contemporary structures. In the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, one project is turning heads with the perfect marriage of old and new.

The Warehouse Dares to Blend Old and New

Located just off the High Line, 520 West 20th Street challenges what it means to retrofit architecture. This commercial property, aptly named The Warehouse, is an adaptive reuse project made possible with ALPOLIC® metal composite materials. Designed by Morris Adjmi Architects and fabricated by The Miller Clapperton Partnership, over 14,000 square feet of custom ALPOLIC/fr® adorn the modern addition while maintaining the foundation of the original industrial structure.

Stretching the bounds of renovation and innovation, the three-story glass and MCM overbuild daringly balances on top of the original four-story brick structure, creating a new 85,000 square workspace.

This project has stayed true to the heritage of the building while infusing elegance and modernity. It is a marvel and a true study of mixed material use that has created a new icon in New York’s Chelsea art district.

ALPOLIC® MCM is the choice for modernizing the look of building facades. Lightweight, easy to fabricate and install, and offered in the widest variety of finishes, this sustainable cladding material provides design flexibility and trailblazing solutions to projects across the world, including those which introduce new innovations in the restoration of historic buildings.

Can Classical And Modern Architecture Coexist?

Technology plays a critical role in the inherent differences between classical and modern  approaches. While most classic buildings utilize materials that were readily available such as brick and timber, modern structures tend to use industrialized materials such as glass, steel, and metal composite material.

Morris Adjmi Architects, the firm behind The Warehouse, had used MCM in past projects. Use of ALPOLIC here was designed, as noted by studio director Lucas Posada, “to maintain the historic integrity of the original structure while creating an environment inspired by innovative technology and materials, designed to support a modern way of living and working.” 

The mixture of the two disciplines is both intriguing and controversial. Some believe a very contrasting and bold design is achieved, unparalleled by most one-dimensional works. While many enjoy the combination of old and new, others prefer the original structures to remain uncorrupted.

There are several different ways in which modern design is incorporated into classic architecture. Occasionally architects are given the opportunity to create an extension on a classic building, where the fusion of aged and contemporary is created. 520 West 20th Street is such an example. While the original warehouse exterior was left mostly untouched, the addition draws inspiration from the older design and calls passersby to appreciate the combination of old and new. 

The contemporary renovation, as Adjmi says is, “...literally serving as an actual and metaphorical bridge between the past and present.

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