Among the projects sponsored during the Summer 2014 Charrette, two design teams turned their attention to transforming an historic building in Kansas City's urban core into a new maker space for the community.
Kansas City, Missouri, is the home of Make It Right's latest community revitalization project. Though the neighborhood of Manheim Park hasn't been affected by a natural disaster, it's been afflicted with decades worth of decline. Bancroft Elementary, a formerly abandoned school dating from 1904, is the projects locus. Make It Right and local firm BNIM transformed the vacant building into low-income housing for families, veterans, senior citizens, and youths transitioning out of foster care. Architect Tim Duggan, director of Make It Right's Innovations department, spearheaded the effort. We chatted with him about the project, "urban acupuncture," and how this redevelopment plan serves as a model for other cities. "We see this as a model both locally and nationally to identify a catalytic project and revitalize it," Duggan says. "So often conventional development says, it won't pencil out or it won't work unless there are inferior quality materials, or it'll pencil out with less community space or less attention to quality. We didn't want to do that." READ MORE >>
The 1934 post office in Bedford, Ohio, was recently renovated as office space, so when Preservation magazine was looking for adaptive reuse post office projects for a photo essay, it was a natural candidate. But as we learned more about the renovation, we knew that just a caption and a photo in the magazine wouldn’t be enough.
Always intrigued by the balance of preservation and sustainability, I circled back with Miller to find out how the firm went about greening the building. The project, of course, started with efficiency upgrades such as better insulation and energy- and water-stingy building systems. To save even more energy, a central skylight was added, bringing abundant natural light into the building and reducing the need for electric lighting during the day. READ MORE >>
Historic preservation is a green building strategy. A new guidance manual, LEED for Neighborhood Development and Historic Preservation, outlines strategies (and reasoning) geared towards helping project teams incorporate historic resources into their developments. This new recourse connects reuse and rehabilitation of historic resources with energy, water, waste, and infrastructure efficiency. It identifies the ways, some explicit and some nuanced, that the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) rating system encourages preservation.
Amazing transformation of a 100-year-old public school in Kansas City's historic Manheim Park Neighborhood into a new deep green development for affordable housing. Led by BNIM Architects, this ambitious project includes support from a progressive group of stakeholders, including the Make It Right Foundation.
A report produced by the Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the potential environmental benefit of building reuse. This groundbreaking study, The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse, concludes that, when comparing buildings of equivalent size and function, building reuse almost always offers environmental savings over demolition and new construction.
The report’s key findings offer policy-makers, building owners, developers, architects and engineers compelling evidence of the merits of reusing existing buildings as opposed to tearing them down and building new.
Those findings include:
Reuse Matters. Building reuse typically offers greater environmental savings than demolition and new construction. It can take between 10 to 80 years for a new energy efficient building to overcome, through efficient operations, the climate change impacts created by its construction. The study finds that the majority of building types in different climates will take between 20-30 years to compensate for the initial carbon impacts from construction.
Scale Matters. Collectively, building reuse and retrofits substantially reduce climate change impacts. Retrofitting, rather than demolishing and replacing, just 1% of the city of Portland’s office buildings and single family homes over the next ten years would help to meet 15% of their county’s total CO2 reduction targets over the next decade.
Design Matters. The environmental benefits of reuse are maximized by minimizing the input of new construction materials. Renovation projects that require many new materials can reduce or even negate the benefits of reuse.
The Bottom Line: Reusing existing buildings is good for the economy, the community and the environment. At a time when our country’s foreclosure and unemployment rates remain high, communities would be wise to reinvest in their existing building stock. READ MORE >>
Nice piece in the National Trust's new Preservation Magazine, featuring Portland's Gerding Theater and other historic armories being converted to into new, green venues:
By Margaret Shakespeare
Once abandoned, the nation's historic armories are being rediscovered and restored.
By its 15th birthday in 2002, Portland Center Stage (PCS) in Oregon had grown up enough to merit its own theater. Long a tenant in the city’s performing arts center, the company was ready for a space with good acoustics, technical flexibility for scene changes, a stage that wouldn’t swallow intimate plays, unobstructed sightlines, and, oh, a central location.
“Our dream of having our own space got more serious” as PCS searched for a new artistic director, says longtime staff member Creon Thorne. “All the candidates said that [moving PCS forward] was not viable without our own space.” But in Portland’s small urban grid, suitable buildings—an old warehouse or an abandoned auditorium, for example—were scarcer than actors who avoid the spotlight.
That is, until the Romanesque Revival armory at the edge of the Pearl District landed in the theater company’s lap.
As part of the rehabilitation, construction crews integrated seismic strengthening elements and added acoustic isolation so that even loud noises outside, such as sirens, could not be heard by audiences. “We were very constrained inside,” Brown says, “but ended up with not one ounce of unused space.” The necessary additional 30,000 square feet was created by excavating and finishing space below ground and adding a mezzanine as well as a new third floor on top of the existing structure. The completed armory incorporates a 600-seat main stage, a 200-seat studio stage, offices, and costume and rehearsal space, all within a historic facility retrofitted with state-of-the-art mechanical and energy management systems.
The design team did face some unexpected hurdles—particularly the integration of lighting systems. The U.S. Green Building Council awards LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points for natural lighting, but landmark-status restrictions didn’t permit the addition of windows in the original masonry walls. The only way to bring in natural light was through new skylights—a total of 42—in the barrel roof. “The Park Service said that wouldn’t be appropriate,” recalls Patrick Wilde, vice president at Gerding Edlen, who was project manager for the 24 months of construction. “We had to make several trips to the East Coast to Washington to explain how we would make them less impactful.” Changing those minds was “a big win for the project,” he says. READ MORE >>
Economic recession has wreaked havoc on the nation’s investment in retail and commercial office infrastructure. Community vibrancy and vitality, along with what had been an economic engine fired by bustling retail centers, malls, life style centers, and office space of the past 50 years, has stalled or been extinguished in many markets.
Today, high vacancy rates, deferred maintenance, and in many cases abandoned retail and office space have left gaping holes in the fabric of our urban communities.
Adaptive reuse is a practical solution to the economic issue and also aligns with the tenets of the 2030 Challenge posed by the nonprofit Architecture 2030, which asks the global architecture and building community to adopt targets to reduce greenhouse gases. Reaching those ambitious 2030 goals will require a fundamental shift in how the A/E/C industry approaches the needs and wants of owners, a commitment to the idea of local community, and a change in how practitioners view the design profession.
Now is the time to revisit and reconnect with the core strength of the design profession: creative problem solving. Untapped opportunity lies before us in the existing building stock of this country. As designers, we have an opportunity to lead the dialogue in our local communities. It is our place to reclaim the high ground from hedge funds, lenders, and developers who seemingly always look out to the edges and the coveted ZIP codes when they could be looking toward the urban core. READ MORE >>
As a self-confessed enthusiast of all things heritage, I love the stately homes, ancient churches, and many of the other beautiful historic buildings that Britain has been building for centuries.
But I’m even more excited when I discover that these buildings are not what they seem: when they reveal adaptations and additions that are surprising, creative and even challenging. And this is happening more and more. Once considered static, sacred and untouchable, the rhetoric around our heritage buildings has moved towards one of managed change and conservation, rather than simple preservation.
This can only be good for their long-term sustainability. Buildings – all buildings, regardless of heritage status – must adapt to survive, just as they have always done. Historic houses are often displayed and interpreted as if frozen in time – but the truth is that the buildings we see now are the products of centuries’ worth of retrofit. Take lighting. It’s progressed from candles to electricity, involving the embedding of wires and cables in precious historic fabric. Heating, meanwhile, has developed from wood and coal to oil or gas. Buildings have to adapt to survive. And with 3% of Grade I and Grade II listed buildings in England at risk, sensitive retrofitting might be their only chance to do so.
The Churches Conservation Trust is doing exactly that with All Souls [pictured], a redundant Grade II-listed church in one of the poorest parts of Bolton, Lancashire, which is to be reborn as a community centre. Its pews and floor are being removed to make way for separate pods to create a ‘building within a building’. The design leaves the historic fabric untouched, while enabling huge savings by heating individual pods as needed, rather than the whole interior.
Such radical transformations can be controversial, and there is a balance to be struck in maintaining what makes an historic building special and what can be done to ensure its long-term sustainability. READ MORE >>
The New Buildings Institute (NBI) recently hosted the 2011 Deep Savings in Existing Buildings Summit, gathering more than 80 innovative thinkers on energy savings and the built environment. Held in Boulder, Colorado, the three-day event was organized as part of NBI’s ongoing work to facilitate wide adoption of deep energy savings across existing U.S. commercial building stock—roughly 71.6 billion square feet of space.
To meet national goals for reduced energy use and climate impact, it is imperative that much of our existing building stock be significantly upgraded over the next two decades. While 50% or greater savings has been demonstrated, this level of savings isn’t the prevailing trend. There is a higher need to go beyond individual efficiency measures with relatively short payback periods (frequently two to three years) and to strategize how to bring replicable system upgrades to existing buildings with deeper, more long-term solutions.
NBI’s existing buildings work, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, seeks to drive the market for energy efficiency through development of key tools and informational resources. We have been expanding a set of deep savings case studies (view the 11 Deep Energy Savings case studies and Getting to 50 Database) and optimizing two simple and intuitive tools (First View and Multi-Measure) for building designers, owners, operators and others to provide a better understanding of current energy performance and potential solutions. Additionally, we have supported Preservation Green Lab’s work to research and characterize the prototypical building types, or “typologies,” that represent significant numbers of existing buildings. READ MORE >>
See our Summit “Snapshot” for a preliminary list of takeaways and brief working group summaries from the event.