Rygelle Dowding

Rygelle Dowding

Warren, NY, US


Graduate Thesis

This thesis is focused on the juxtaposition of an existing building to a new addition of a different style. It examines the design language of a particular building and relates it to an extension that serves to expand the current program of the building. It explores how two separate styles can cohabitate on the same site and in what ways the addition is inspired by the existing building, be it conscious or coincidental. The addition carries certain characteristics of the existing building that help to maintain its original integrity. These characteristics are both visual and spatial and will help to marry the two architectural styles as they maintain one function.

Although created specifically for the use of the Offices of the Pension Bureau, this building now serves many uses. The first two floors are dedicated on a daily basis to the National Building Museum. The third floor contains several commercial offices including the Washington DC Preservation Society. The fourth floor is home to all the administrative offices of the Museum. 

The National Building Museum holds a strong presence within its context in both materiality and scale. It is recognizably different from its surrounding buildings. It is taller than most of them. It is red brick while the others are stone or concrete. Its facades are continuously flat while some of the others are faceted. It is also set back from the street while most of the others sit closer to the street. 

The enormous Great Hall is one of the largest public spaces in Washington DC. It measures 116 x 316 feet and features three court-like spaces separated by two screens of Corinthian columns. It served as the venue for several presidential inaugural balls, government events and private parties.

The exterior dimensions of the building 400 feet by 200 feet, made up of 15,500,000 bricks and brick and terra cotta ornament. The structural and exterior materials were selected both for cost  effectiveness and in order to make the Pension Bureau Building fireproof to protect the files and records within.

In order to bring characteristics from the existing facade into the new design, a facade study was done on a portion of the existing facade taking the lines of the windows and extruding them to create a regular grid. This regular grid was then examined for lines that deserved prominence over the others. Namely the horizontal lines that run uninterrupted and unbroken around all four facades of the existing building.

This grid was then applied to the glazed curtain wall of the new addition in the form of mullions. In order to keep the main horizontal elements that exist in the original building, aluminum panels were used in a continuous band around the new section of the building at the same height as the existing lines.

In order to form some level of synergetic design, a red brick material was used on the Southwestern corner of the new addition. This use of material, although a nod to the original brick was used in a more technologically up-to-date way. In order to tie this material change into the design, the one major horizontal element was carried through in the form of a lighter colored brick laid in soldier courses. This portion of the addition will then serve as the location for building signage to help demarcate primary entrance.

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Status: School Project
Location: Washington, DC, US