This 230 year old building inspired FNP Architekten in Germany to create a unique blend of modern and aged architecture. Partly demolished in WWII this structure sat idle for decades before these designers figured out a way to insert an entire building within the existing building - providing shelter and protection for the aged structural shell. If innovative architects can make something like this, it would seem that the sky is the limit.
The results are striking and make a wonderful statement about the embodied historic, economic, and material energy present in older structures. If an eighteenth century farm building can be renovated, imagine all of the older historic structures that exist in American inner cities that languish at ineptitude of our civic leaders to provide incentives for their redevelopment. Surely a building that can leverage the embodied energy of three hundred years is worth more to a city and a developer than a newly conceived structure reliant on its own internal architectural / programmatic dialogue to give it meaning and depth.