When thinking about the role of architecture in neighborhoods and communities, Fort Worth firm owner, Greg Ibañez, FAIA of Ibañez Shaw Architecture imagines more for the future. Everyone is familiar with larger architectural projects like museums and sports stadiums, but what about everyday architecture? Places that enrich and change our lives everyday like schools, libraries, hospitals, and even local coffee shops are pieces of architecture. Architecture creates experiences for communities and neighborhoods. Homeowners can take advantage of this and other benefits, like cost-savings and sustainability when deciding whether or not to repurpose a home.
Ibañez has experienced firsthand the benefits of using an architect’s expertise to repurpose an existing structure because that’s how he found his current home. He and his wife restored an older home by repurposing its existing structure, while also incorporating modern elements.
Ibañez’s stance on repurposing materials is that by choosing to repurpose and not completely tear a house down, you’re honoring the pattern of the neighborhood and acknowledging the history without trying to imitate it. One city that does this very well is Chicago. Many of its neighborhoods beautifully intertwine the history of the city with modernity. This creates a new look and feel and doesn’t sacrifice the roots and where it came from.
Aside from preserving the history of a neighborhood, repurposing is smart for energy and cost saving. When it comes to saving money, working with what you have is always better. Overall, the cost of repurposing a home is significantly less compared to tearing down and starting fresh. From a sustainability standpoint, the most sustainable building is the one that’s already there. When you think about an old brick home, it already has embedded energy in it. Think about the energy it originally took to manufacture, transport, and lay each one of those bricks and how much energy and fuel would be used to tear the house down and build it up again. Just by common sense, it takes less energy and is more sustainable than starting over. In a repurposed home, each layer of history tells us where we came from, where we are, and where we’re going. The expertise of an architect can help homeowners preserve the beauty of an older home while adding a modern and personal touch.
For someone who has never worked with an architect, the process of hiring an architect can be daunting. Many are unaware of exactly what architects do or how they can help, and people oftentimes see the work of architects as something that is reserved for the more sophisticated homeowners. This is part of the ongoing challenge that architects face – how they can address the needs of the average homeowner. As Julie Eizenberg titled her book, “Architecture Isn’t Just For Special Occasions,” Ibañez makes the plea for more everyday architecture. When you work with an architect, you’ll see the difference.
Want to learn more about Greg? Watch the full interview below.