Adaptive Reuse: New Life for Old Buildings

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I’m excited to introduce you to this cool project in Vermont, so I thought I might as well do an entire article about adaptive reuse design.  Adaptive reuse is exactly what it sounds like – it’s taking an old, abandoned, or derelict building and adapting it and making it useful for another purpose.  I’m sure you’ve seen this done many times in your area, like when an old school is turned into apartments or condos, or an old train station is turned into a museum.  Most often, the building has some historic or significant value, but it can even be turning an old warehouse into lofts or condos.  Adaptive reuse is a significant contribution to sustainable design by reducing the use of resources, reducing waste, saving historically significant architecture, and re-connecting a place to its past and community.

(The carcass of the abandoned Moran Municipal Generation Station, on Burlington’s lakefront, inspired Tad Cooke (left) and Erick Crockenberg. Their charge: Turn the cavernous interior into an “innovation space.” | Photo by Bear Cieri)

The exciting project I’m talking about comes from two college guys in Vermont.  Needing a capstone project for their degree, the two paired up and proposed a project to convert an old coal power plant into a cultural center in their Vermont town.  Not only was their project proposal approved for their capstone project, but they also contacted the mayor and other major players in town to propose the project in actuality – which rarely happens with college capstone projects!  Here’s a link to the project: Senior Project | Sierra Club   Check out their project, but make sure you come back here to read below about some of the significant adaptive reuse projects we have right here in Cincinnati!

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There’s a lot of reuse going on in Cincinnati – you can see my post here about the 19th century brewery in the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood being converted into a music venue and cultural hall.  There’s also the 1915 Ford Manufacturing Plant on Lincoln Ave. in Cincinnati.  Now housing engineering offices, it once was the manufacturing location for Ford Model A’s and Model T’s.

(Photo is by John Leming, “Just so that you can see the similarities in design, here is the restored plant in Cincy. These plants were designed by Albert Kahn, and they represent early reenforced concrete construction. The Cincy plant is on the National Register. Again, the Benson Ford supplied me with more information than one could possibly expect.”)

There’s also the Precinct Steakhouse, a high end restaurant created in the old Cincinnati Police Patrol House Number 6 in the east end Columbia-Tusculum neighborhood.

And one certainly can’t forget Union Terminal on the west side – now housing the Cincinnati Museum Center (which is the Cincinnati History Museum, the Cincinnati Children’s Museum, and the Cincinnati Natural History Museum).  It also still serves as the Amtrak station.  It’s still one of the most beautiful examples of Art Deco architecture in the world.

Another truly unique project that’s local to Cincinnati – is the old Home Quarters home improvement store in Oakley that was converted into a Crossroads Church by Champlin Architecture.

And of course I shouldn’t forget the Bavarian Brewing Company’s building over in Covington, Kentucky that was converted into a night club and entertainment complex called Jillian’s.  Jillian’s is gone, but the building is still there – I believe it might even be available.  Any takers?

(Photo of another adaptive reuse project in OTR Cincinnati, the Art Academy of Cincinnati. It was one of the first LEED Certified projects in Cincinnati. Photo by Chuck Lohre.)

Adaptive reuse is part of the urban revitalization that’s happening all across America.  Find out what’s happening in your town and do what you can to support it!

About the author: Krista Nutter, (LEED AP, MS Arch, NCIDQ ) is a design educator and administrator at a CIDA-accredited program, a sustainable building consultant, and designer/owner of an award-winning, Energy-Star 5+, passive solar, solar electric, high-performance green home in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her home was on the USGBC Cincinnati Green Home tour in 2015. Learn more about it at the house blog.)

(12-13-19 redirected from lohre.com)


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