Adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an existing building for a purpose other than which it was originally built or designed for. Adaptive reuse projects preserve what is best about a building, but design and develop them into a more modern and usable building. This form of development generally preserves the exterior of a building and repurposes the inside. Adaptive reuse projects can also push the creative limits of the team doing it which we tend to enjoy.
Why consider adaptive reuse
- Cost efficiency. One thing we know for sure when it comes to designing buildings is that cost is always a factor. When the Harrisonburg City School Board needed a new central office, we were able to repurpose an abandoned 1950’s era department store at One Court Square. We did this for a very pleasing and affordable $81.48 /s.f.
- Repurposing old buildings reduces the need for the construction of new buildings that require land, energy and materials. According the the United States EPA, it can take up to 65 years for an energy-efficient new building to save the amount of energy lost in demolishing an existing building. Less waste goes into landfills and we reduce our carbon footprint.
- While not a monetary reason, there can be a lot of history with older buildings that provide a sense of connection to the community by the people who live and visit. When we can save those places by repurposing them, we can keep that culture in a community.
- Often with older, historical buildings, getting through the code process can be easier and faster. While this may not be a top reason to consider adaptive reuse, it’s definitely in the plus column.
Newer isn’t always better
For a while there was a push to tear down and rebuild, the whole idea of newer is better. More and more the idea of an adaptive reuse project can be more appealing. Sometimes older is better and quite possibly less expensive. And while it’s not always feasible to do an adaptive reuse project, they are definitely worth exploring and doing if you can.
We’d love to discuss any adaptive reuse project you have.