Harnessing History: Restoration though Modern Technology and Traditional Techniques


Jody Henry
Kirksey Architecture

Bill Dwyer
Kirksey Architecture

Nicola Springer


1 Learning Units/Health, Safety, Welfare (LU/HSW)

How applies to HSW:

The topic covers construction issues in renovation, and the tools architects can use in working through structural and envelope design. It also showcases the value of restoring and learning from historic structures and historic passive design solutions for comfortable indoor environment.


One might say that there is nothing more sustainable than expanding the lifespan of an already-existing building. This involves taking advantage of its embodied energy, recognizing its significance within its context, and learning from its construction techniques and past performance. Houston is known for demolishing its historic buildings, but our team had the rare opportunity to explore the restoration of one of Houston’s oldest high schools while integrating it with new facilities on the same campus. Developing the documents for the old and new buildings allowed us to both utilize the latest cutting-edge technologies as well as return to some fundamental design and construction strategies to ensure the optimal performance of the structures. This presentation will showcase a myriad of tools of design and the merging of a century’s worth of construction techniques. The tools of design and building performance used in this project show the evolution of traditional solutions for a hot humid climate to our modern 21st century ones. From hand drawings to energy models and CFD simulations, this case study represents a journey across a century’s worth of design and construction technologies, as we begin to peel back the layers of architecture and design in Houston.

Learning Objectives:
  • Sustainable / energy efficient design and strategies of the early 20th century;
  • Tools for assessing envelope, and structural conditions of historic buildings
  • Energy modeling and building simulation tools (WUFI, solar and CFDs);
  • The power of drawings as a communication tool, finding the best way to communicate
Primary Competency:

Design of Educational Facilities: Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

Primary Domain:

Toolbox: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the approaches, methods and applications when transitioning from design and concept into reality, actual existence through quality performance, execution and/or product.

Secondary Domain:

Process: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the importance of quality processes and practices implemented by the project team when creating learning environments. The who, what, when and how of various disciplines and applications.