City, Newport Restoration Foundation select Thomason as part of building preservation effort

THE NEWPORT RESTORATION FOUNDATION and the city recently announced the selection of consultant Phil Thomason to develop graphics illustrating the city’s “Design Guidelines for Elevating Historic Buildings.” Thomason, second from right, recently joined, from left, foundation associate Margaret Back; Karl Andy Bjork, chair of Newport’s Historic District Commission; and Nicholas Armour, city preservation planner, at 70 Bridge St. as part of a tour of Newport’s Point neighborhood. / COURTESY NEWPORT RESTORATION FOUNDATION

NEWPORT – The city and a local foundation recently selected a Nashville-based consultant to help create guidelines for bolstering the resiliency of historic properties in the city’s low-lying areas threatened by sea-level rise.

The Newport Restoration Foundation and the city’s government recently announced that they have selected Phil Thomason, of Thomason and Associates, to develop graphics illustrating the city’s “Design Guidelines for Elevating Historic Buildings.”

The city and the foundation said Thomason will produce Appendix A of the guidelines, including a set of photos, drawings and architectural renderings to illustrate design concepts for historic buildings. The undertaking started in late September when Thomason participated in a tour of Newport’s historic Point neighborhood, alongside city officials and representatives of the restoration foundation.

The guidelines were first adopted by the city’s Historic District Commission in early 2020, providing information to guide elevation projects for about 400 properties that make up the Newport Historic District, including Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Zone certification and other documentation required for commission approval. The guidelines provide site design considerations regarding the materials that comprise the original building foundation, the placement of flood venting, the size of setbacks and the preservation of historic features.

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The city and the restoration foundation, which did not disclose the cost of the consulting contract, said the graphics provided for historic property owners through Appendix A will take “Design Guidelines for Elevating Historic Buildings” to a new level.

“NRF and the city believed graphical support was crucial to visualize proposed adaptations,” said the foundation in a recent announcement about the consulting contract. “The graphics Thomason will provide may show new and original details in building adaptations, foundation design within a historic context, and streetscape scale and building patterns. The visualizations will serve as an important tool for historic homes in Newport, and as a model for other historic communities to develop adaptation strategies.”

The foundation said that funding for the effort came from the R.I. Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“The graphic guidelines produced will be one of the first of its kind in Rhode Island,” said Alyssa Lozupone, the restoration foundation’s director of preservation.

Before this project, Thomason and Associates produced the “Flooding Adaptation and Building Elevation Guidelines” for Nantucket, and the firm also created design guidelines for flooding resiliency and adaptation projects in Beaufort, N.C., and Mandeville, La.

Marc Larocque is a PBN contributing writer. 

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