Built in 1796 by the Craig family, the Andalusia mansion was expanded 10 years later under Benjamin Latrobe. In 1835-36, its most famous owner, Nicholas Biddle, expanded and remodeled it again, creating the centerpiece Greek Revival-style house with a monumental temple front and colonnade. It is designated a National Historic Landmark.
The “Big House,” as the three-story mansion is known, is a repository of late 18th and 19th century French, English, Chinese, and American furniture. The library and study wing did not anticipate or incorporate such 21st century utilities as communication, lighting, or de-humidification controls. As a result, the entire collection suffered from UV damage and mildew.
The goal for renovation/restoration of the library and study in the Big House was to improve the environment for books, papers and other artifacts with minimal impact on the historic fabric of the building. BBA brought its experience working within historic buildings to its role providing engineering design. Minimizing temperature and humidity fluctuations throughout the year was a key objective. Existing mechanical equipment was replaced with a museum-quality heating and cooling system, including a new boiler and air-handling units. Electrical system improvements included replacement and upgrade of the main distribution panel feeding the Big House and installation of a subpanel to feed the new mechanical loads.