Addition to historic building: A hermeneutic interpretation

Jonathan Letzter*, Eran Neuman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building conservation is an act designated to safeguard historic buildings from deterioration and eventual demolition. However, additions are essential to maintain the historic building’s function in many cases. Hence, the architect faces a thought process design that invariably accentuates significant values, while inevitably leaving others concealed or diminished. Developing a theoretical discussion concerning the historic building and its addition takes place within a synthesis between two disciplines: the architectural conservation discourse and building additions in practice, and the theory of Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutics and his approach to text interpretation. The interweaving of these two disciplines into an interpretative-methodological tool enables us to deal with multiple aspects concerning building additions. Here we apply Ricoeur’s methodology to survey and analyze the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada, as a case study for a historic building with an exceptional addition designed by Daniel Libeskind. We employ Paul Ricoeur’s Hermeneutics approach to challenge the conservation discourse’s dilemma concerning significant buildings, their evaluation and the accordant design of the additions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2079587
JournalCogent Arts and Humanities
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Daniel Libeskind
  • Hermeneutics
  • Paul Ricoeur
  • Royal Ontario Museum
  • conservation
  • historic building addition


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