Their proposal for Hamburg was surprisingly simple: to avoid tearing up or tearing down the brick Kaispeicher and instead to conceive of it as a base on which to erect a new building — to think dialectically and thus to savor each antithesis just long enough for its full effect to take hold, and for the ambivalence before our eyes to blur under the dawning spell.
— Hanno Rauterberg, translated from the German by Lara Mehling, “Waves of Optimism: First Impressions of the Elbphilharmonie,” Log 39
Adding onto an existing building can be handled well or poorly, and there’s no easy formula for how to get it right. An expansion that seeks to seamlessly replicate the language and patterning of its antecedent can utterly ruin a beloved monument in spite of its stylistic pandering, while one that departs drastically from the precedent can establish a tense dichotomy that somehow elevates new and existing structures from mundane to sublime. Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg is perhaps the best recent example of this latter phenomenon — a project in which architecture’s inherent ambiguity is exploited to transform a wharfside warehouse into a tony concert hall.
In this issue of Texas Architect, we consider two expansion projects that — while coming nowhere near the virtuosity and delight of the Elbphilharmonie — take, at least in some degree, this dichotomous approach to expansion: one, a crypt for the Cistercian Abbey in Dallas; the other, a security and customs screening area for the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.