All posts by Caroline Wilson

Adaptive Reuse is Better than New Construction

Adaptive Reuse is Better than New Construction.

With so many unused, abandoned, and historically significant buildings, why do we insist on demolishing them to build new ones? Today, there is an abundance of buildings including factories, houses, incomplete construction sites, stores, and ghost towns available to be re-adapted. Adaptive reuse is better than new construction because it is better for the environment, is an answer for poor living conditions, preserves the cultural energy of the place, and is an interesting design challenge for architects.

 

Environmental Benefits

Today, it is cheaper to demolish a building and create an entirely new project than it is to reuse a building that already exists. It may be monetarily less expensive, but at what cost to our living environment?

Demolition contributes heavily to industrial waste. Currently, waste generated from the construction and demolition industry is about 1.25 million tonnes per year (1 tonne is approximately 2,204.6 pounds) (Bergsdal 27). In past years, attempts have been made to start waste treatment, but these efforts are not enough. Approximately 44% of construction and demolition waste was sent to sorting, and of that 44%, 33% was recycled, 22% was energy recovered, and 34% was sent to landfill (Bergsdal 28). Even with the waste sent for treatment, 40% of that was unspecified. Some waste was sent directly to recycling companies while some of it was disposed of illegally (Bergsdal 28).

In addition to  the waste produced through construction and demolition waste, we must also remember that when constructing an entire building, materials do not magically appear. Materials need to be transported to the site and through the transportation, greenhouse gases are released into the air, harming our planet. In fact,  greenhouse gas emissions from transportation accounted for about 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions, making it the second largest contributor in the United States right after electricity in 2013 (“Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions”).  While, renovation does not completely eliminate the need for material, it can reduce it which in turn reduces the overall need to transport those materials.

In 2014, San Francisco based DPR Construction achieved the renovation of an office building that has reached net positive energy. This office produces as much, if not more energy than it consumes while also being a renovation project. The team researched, designed, permitted, and built the highly efficient 24,000 square foot space within 5 months. The building includes sustainable technologies such as 118kw photovoltaic system to produce renewable energy and provide power throughout the office, a rooftop thermal water heating system, solar powered automatic operable skylights, and nine eight-foot Essence and four “Big Ass Fans” that efficiently flow air within the office. Along with the addition of efficient technologies, the office completed a structural renovation to support the new photovoltaic array on the roof, three living walls throughout the building and a living wine bar, and many of the materials used in the project were reclaimed wood from nearby projects that had recently been deconstructed. DPR Construction in San Francisco is one of only twelve buildings in the United States that have been certified as net zero energy.

  • General Lobby with one of three living walls.

 

Low Income Housing Solution

Because it is less profitable, developers ignore the low income housing market and focus on the high end segment. Combine this with the fact that 200,000 rental housing units are destroyed annually. This adds up to a shortage in low income rental housing.

This is unfortunate because renting remains one of the most viable options for low income residents and many are stuck in older, lower-quality apartments close to the urban core (Joint Center for Housing Studies). This puts them farther away from well-paying jobs and other opportunities for advancement. Without more production of affordable rentals in the suburbs and community development in city centers, the economic prospects of the nation’s most disadvantaged are only going to get worse.

Albeit challenging, adaptive reuse is an option for this shortage because it provides financial incentives for developers and solves some issues for the residents (Joint Center for Housing Studies). Adaptive reuse projects usually are able to receive “historic rehabilitation tax credit” which would help offset the cost of reuse projects. If geared toward low income housing, they may also qualify for  “low income housing tax credit” and could double the tax savings (Schalmo 10).

Along with the benefits for developers, adaptive reuse projects, because they are often sited in older neighborhoods or even historic districts, can situate residents much closer to centers of employment (Schalmo 9). This would shorten residents’ commute to work and allow them to walk or take public transit to work which harkens back to the sustainable benefits of adaptive reuse. A good example of low income residential adaptive reuse is Grainger Place, by the Landmark Group completed in 2000. It was an old school that was converted into housing for the elderly that won awards for historical preservation and development. Compared to other new construction of a similar scale, the cost was about the same (Schalmo 10). This goes to show that successful projects like these are economically possible.

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 6.47.34 PM

 

Cultural Recycling

The very nature of adaptive reuse lends itself to creating an environment that has a sense of place and history. Demolition and construction waste “injures cities images and memories” and literally changes the way we see our world, wiping history clean and starting again (Cerkez 94).“When a building of historic merit is preserved or restored for adaptive reuse, its cultural energy is also recycled. Old buildings preserve the local culture and identity and create a sense of belonging. In a way, we recycle embodied human resource energy along with material energy. We bring alive the past to be a part of the future, creating valuable connections through time.” (Cerkez 94) When designing a building, architects have to consider the cultural and historical context. The identity of the place is then affirmed through the design. Unlike new construction, reuse projects don’t have to try and fit in- they are already part of the community.

There are times where renovations would have been a better option than new construction For example, the original Pennsylvania Station in New York City (1910) was demolished in 1963 and replaced with the modern underground structure that stands today. Much backlash was felt  when the building was demolished because it had stood as a historical monument. What is frustrating now is the difference in atmosphere and experience. The old building stood tall, above ground, and grand while the new one is underground, low, and oppressive.  

  • Interior view of Pennsylvania Station

Architectural Design Challenge

Using abandoned or already existing buildings creates interesting, compelling design challenges for architects. The constraint of an already existing building allows designers to become innovative and solve problems, while also respecting the history of the site. Architects give these buildings new life, new meaning, and a new function while respecting what had occurred before their project. This recycles the “cultural energy” of what was there before. This allows design to blend into the language of its surroundings, while still doing something new. This kind of work would not merely be a renovation, but the entire purpose of the building would be redefined to become whatever our society needs most.

 

Branded Buildings:

Branded buildings, such as McDonalds or CVS Pharmacy depend heavily on the shape and design of their building to reiterate the branding. Companies such as McDonald’s will demolish and rebuild for small reasons as simple as they are trying to update the look of their brand. Why do we allow for the pointless changes that create demolition and construction waste and so much more? Branded buildings can still be created and gain from adaptive reuse and renovation. Renovating, rather than demolishing, would allow for the business to stay open while renovations are being completed. It would also take less time to construct because there would not be demolition or construction from scratch.

Located in the Palisades, Washington, D.C. there is a CVS that defies the idea that branded buildings have to demolish and rebuild for their locations. This CVS is a converted old movie theater. The design keeps the integrity of the old movie theater while also having a recognizable brand.

CVS|Pharmacy, Palisades, Washington, D.C.
CVS|Pharmacy, Palisades, Washington, D.C.

Another, larger, example is the Bastard Store, located in Milan. Designed by Studiometrico, the shopfront, officers, warehouse, and skate bowl are located within a 1900’s cinema. It stays true to as much of the cinema as was possible, but also reflects the brand’s gnarly attitude toward snowboarding. The juxtaposition of the prior program and the current program is an idea that can be appreciated and is much more complex than if they had torn down the cinema and built a new, sleek, snowboarding headquarters.

  • Original Milan Theater

 

In Conclusion:

As sustainability is becoming a requirement rather than an option, we as designers have to ask ourselves if it is really worth building new. With a site that already has a building on it, there is no need for a new building because we can effectively reuse the building that is already there. Even without considering the environmental side of things, adaptive reuse presents many more benefits that new construction simply cannot imitate.

 

Bibliography

Baer, William C. “Empty Housing Space: An Overlooked Resource.”Policy Studies Journal 8.2 (1979): 220-27. Web.

Bergsdal, Håvard, Rolf André Bohne, and Helge Brattebø. “Projection of Construction and Demolition Waste in Norway.”Journal of Industrial Ecology 11.3 (2007): 27-39. Web.

Bullen, Peter A. “Adaptive Reuse and Sustainability of Commercial Buildings.” Facilities 25.1/2 (2007): 20-31. Web.

Power, A. “Housing and Sustainability: Demolition or Refurbishment?”Proceedings of the ICE – Urban Design and Planning163.4 (2010): 205-16. Web.

“47-2061 Construction Laborers.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

Joint Center for Housing Studies. “America’s Rental Housing: Homes for a Diverse Nation.” (Publication of the Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University). HARVARD JOINT CENTER FOR HOUSING STUDIES, 8 Mar. 2006. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.

Kellert, S. R. 2005. Chapter 4: Biophilic design in Building for Life: Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection.Washington, DC: Island Press. pp. 123-177.

Power, Anne. “Does Demolition or Refurbishment of Old and Inefficient Homes Help to Increase Our Environmental, Social and Economic Viability?” Energy Policy 36.12 (2008): 4487-501. Web.

SCHALMO, Barbara Elwood. “COVERING THE COST OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Exploring the Adequacy of the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit to Cover the Increased Development Cost of Adaptive Reuse

“Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Transportation Sector Emissions. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

Projects for Affordable Housing.” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, May 2008. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

Tränkler, Josef O.v., Isa Walker, and Max Dohmann. “Environmental Impact of Demolition Waste — An Overview on 10 Years of Research and Experience.” Waste Management 16.1-3 (1996): 21-26. Web.

Peer Design Review: Kate Stuewe

Designer: Kate Stuewe

Reviewer: Caroline Wilson

Preserved link

Project Description

Within Kate’s design, she has chosen to preserve the integrity of the old car wash warehouse on the site and use this skeleton as a bridge between the industrial area and natural landscape surrounding it. She has kept the north and south walls and has made perforations. This allows her to connect with the industrial buildings surrounding, while also allowing for design decisions of her own. Preserving the original walls recycles the cultural energy of the building, continuing to connect with the surrounding community. Kate has also chosen to restore the wetlands within the Bushwick Inlet and has designed an observation area where the wetlands will be able to be experienced without disturbing the habitat. The public space of her building is very flexible and based on the needs of the users.

My Two Cents

I love the concept behind Kate’s building. Reusing the skeleton of the old building is an incredibly innovative idea. Its also a great way to stay connected with the community surrounding it. My personal interest in adaptive reuse causes me to really enjoy this design. I am interested in the decisions that went into making the perforations within the original wall. I was in agreement with the jurors when they mentioned that the training room seems to be a little uncomfortable. I would advise perhaps moving this space to a different area in the building. I felt that the design lacks an exterior area for the public to really come together and enjoy being together. Perhaps adding an area for basketball or a playground for children.

Overall, I think Kate’s design is coming along well. She makes incredible improvements and takes the critiques of the jurors extremely seriously when revising her building. I admire that.

Presentation of Work

Kate was very confident in her presentation and got the point of her design across very well, and as simply as possible. She really cares about the site and that comes across while she is presenting. The research she has done on the site allows her to be knowledgeable about her design and the integration of her building into the site.

The drawings bring across her ideas well, showing the immersive experience into her plans and sections. I believe that more sections would do well in communicating her ideas. I would suggest a diagram explaining the connection points of where the original building meets the new.

Reviewer’s Critiques

The guest juror, Ross, had been on the jury for Kate’s previous review and commented that in his opinion, Kate’s organization of program has come a long way. He was very impressed with the improvement of the program. The jury agreed that the training area needs to be rethought. There is “something about the space that is uncomfortable” (quote from Christine Gorby).

The jurors also felt that there should be more difference between what is new and what is old. They commented that one way to achieve this is perhaps where the connection of a new and old wall was to have a strip of glazing. They encouraged her to appreciate the integrity of the old wall almost in the same way she is appreciated the the history of the site. Malcolm suggested looking into this wall detail more because it will really strengthen his concept.

A suggestion for a precedent was a project by Peter Lass where formal gardens were created, and were able to grow in polluted soil. They suggested that Kate could add formal gardens to contrast with the wild wetlands on the site. I believe this would also strengthen Kate’s concept because creates a parallel between her building and the site. Each preserves the history, while also creating a structured design element.

Another suggestion for a precedent was Casa Vecchio. These are roman sites that were used by people in the middle ages as villages. They suggested to look at this to have a cultural precedent for the reoccupation of ruins.

They also felt the public lobby space is a bit “labyrinth” like. Creating the spaces to enclose the antique fire engine creates many corridors and they encouraged her to look at this space and try to limit the corridors created. They wonder if the antique fire engine has to be enclosed or if it can be exposed in the larger area.

When Kate’s presentation was over, she and Ross talked over her drawings talking over ways to solve a couple of design problems, I unfortunately decided I shouldn’t interject/awkwardly eavesdrop on their conversation.

DD Design Statement: Caroline Wilson

The Engine Company 212’s new firehouse is located within Brooklyn, New York, specifically located in the Greenpoint neighborhood. This site is a beautiful contrast of so many different worlds. The surrounding buildings are majority industrial with a history behind them and tall, modern glass residential buildings. We are located on the North side of the Bushwick inlet. The city of New York has a park planned on the South side of the inlet extending to the North side, beside our site. Our site also looks across the river to the East to the Manhattan skyline.

My design is heavily influenced by sustainable building techniques such as rainwater collection, natural ventilation, green roof temperature regulation, solar panels, and so many more. The footprint of the fire station has been kept as small as possible. The different ceiling heights within the program create a series of levels, creating an interesting relationship of inhabitable roofs. There will be a pathway through the first level for the public. This pathway will allow for the public to interact with the interior of the apparatus bay and the Monitor Museum to pull in viewers, but with no need to go inside if time does not allow. It also frames the beautiful view across the East River of the Manhattan skyline.

Photo Cred: Barry Halkin

There is No Need for New Buildings.

There is no real need to build new buildings

Periodical Name: BLUEPRINT

  • Introduction
    • With so many unused and abandoned buildings, why are we still building new ones? Today there is an abundance of buildings including factories, houses, incomplete construction sites, stores and ghost towns available to be readapted. Adaptive reuse is better for the environment, is an answer to poor living conditions, is an interesting design challenge for architects, and preserves the historical significance of existing structures.
  • Environmental Benefits
    • Demolition & Construction Waste
      • Injures cities images and memories (Cerkez 94)
      • “Demolition waste is a major part of industrial waste. In general, demolition waste is heterogeneous and consists to a large extent of building materials but includes even small amounts of hazardous substances.” (Trankler 21)
      • “Current waste generation from the construction and demolition industry (C&D industry) in Norway is about 1.25 million tonnes per year.” (Bergsdal 27)
      • “A 2001 study of Norwegian waste treatment facilities reported that approximately 44% of C&D waste was sent to sorting, and of this 33% was materials recycled, 22% was energy recovered, and 34% was landfilled. The numbers do not include rocks, gravel, soil and the like. Furthermore, the results revealed that the treatment method for about 40% of C&D waste in Norway was unspecified. Some waste was sent directly to recycling companies, and therefore not registered in the statistics, and some waste was also disposed of illegally (Statistics Norway 2002).” (Bergsdal 28)
    • Shipping new materials
      • Depending on what is available locally, many materials need to be transported to the site. There is really no way to avoid this in general, but renovating rather than completely demolishing and creating a new building creates less need for new material.
        • “In 2013, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation accounted for about 27% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the second largest contributor of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions after the Electricity sector.” (“Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”)
    • Renovation Construction is much more difficult than new construction.
      • Take into consideration the cost of transporting the demolition and construction waste to a recycling facility.
      • The longer period of demo and construction time creates a longer period for laborers to be in work.
      • This longer period also creates more emissions into the atmosphere due to equipment used during demolition and construction.
    • Rich Clients who don’t care about sustainability
      • Sustainability is the “new”, “cool” thing in architecture. Even though sustainable techniques have been around for almost two decades.
        • The client’s building will be judged based on how sustainable it is.
          • If it does not use sustainable techniques, the client will be ridiculed for ignoring the need for sustainable strategies in architecture and ignoring the need for taking care of our planet.
        • Sustainable technologies are considered advanced technologies in architecture.
  • Economic Benefits
    • Less time under construction.
      • When demolition and construction are needed, a project will be under construction for a longer period of time.
        • labor costs. Approximately $35,000 salary per worker (47-2061 Construction Laborers)
      • There are certain historic rehabilitation tax credits offered to those who preserve the history of their site. This helps to offset the cost of renovation.
  • Low income housing
    • About 200,000 rental housing units are destroyed annually. Renting is one of the most viable options for low income people (Joint Center for Housing Studies).
    • “Unable to afford the higher rents for newer suburban units, many lowest-income renters remain stuck in older, lower-quality apartments close to the urban core with limited access to well-paying jobs and other advancement opportunities. Without more production of affordable rentals in the suburbs and expanded community development efforts in center cities, the economic prospects of the nation’s most disadvantaged are certain to worsen.” (Joint Center for Housing Studies)
    • developers continue to focus on the high end housing market segment, ignoring the many renters who are unable to pay (Joint Center for Housing Studies)
    • Albeit challenging, adaptive reuse is an option for the shortage of low-income housing.
    • Adaptive reuse projects, because they are often sited in older neighborhoods or even historic districts, can situate residents much closer to centers of employment. (Schalmo 9)
    • Adaptive reuse projects usually are able to receive “low income housing tax credit” and/or “historic rehabilitation tax credit” to offset the cost of developing low income housing. (Schalmo 10)
  • History Preservation/Respecting site
    • “When a building of historic merit is preserved or restored for adaptive reuse, its cultural energy is also recycled. Old buildings preserve the local culture and identity and create a sense of belonging. In a way, we recycle embodied human resource energy along with material energy. We bring alive the past to be a part of the future, creating valuable connections through time.” (Cerkez 94)
    • “Effective vernacular design requires consideration of the cultural and historical character of the places where buildings and other constructions occur…The distinctive identity of a place is affirmed by designing in relation to a place’s social and historical elements.” (Kellert, 165). The very nature of adaptive reuse lends itself to creating an environment that has a sense of place and history. Unlike new design, reuse projects don’t have to try and fit in- they are already part of the community.  
  • Architectural design challenge
    • Using abandoned or existing buildings creates interesting, compelling design challenges for architects.
      • This constraint allows designers to create new innovations and solve problems while also respecting the history of the site.
      • Architects give these buildings new life, new meaning, and new function while respecting what went on before their project. Recycling the “cultural energy” of what was there before.
      • This allows design to blend into the language of its surroundings, while still doing something new.
      • This kind of work would not merely be renovation, the entire purpose of the building would be redefined to become whatever our society needs most.
    • Branded Buildings (such as CVS or McDonalds) do not have to be created completely new.
      • An example: A CVS that was a converted old movie theater. It kept the integrity of the old movie theater while also still having its brand. Located in the Palisades, Washington, D.C.

        CVS|Pharmacy, Palisades, Washington, D.C.
        CVS|Pharmacy, Palisades, Washington, D.C.
      • Demolishing a branded building such as a McDonald’s
        • Renovating would allow the business to stay open while renovations are being completed.
        • Less time under construction, rather than taking the time for demolition and the construction of an entire building.
      • Branding can be created while also respecting the history of a building.
        • Take the CVS occupying an old theater as an example.
        • Or take a larger example of the Bastard Store, designed by Studiometrico in Milan. The shopfront, offices, warehouse, and skate bowl are located within a 1950’s cinema. It stays true to as much of the cinema as was possible, but also reflects the brand’s gnarly attitude towards snowboarding. The juxtaposition of the prior program and the current program is an idea that can be appreciated and is much more complex than if they had torn down the cinema and built a new, sleek snowboarding headquarters.

          Bastard Store, Studiometrico, Milan, Italy, 2011 Photo Cred: Giuliano Berarducci
          Bastard Store, Studiometrico, Milan, Italy, 2011
          Photo Cred: Giuliano Berarducci
  • Conclusion
    • Sustainability is becoming more of a requirement than an option.
    • There is no need for new buildings because we can effectively reuse the buildings that we already have.
    • Adaptive reuse projects are a better solution than new building because of… [summarize main points]
  • Architectural Examples:
    • 1. Residential
      • Grainger Place, 2000
      • The Landmark Group
      • Low income housing converted from an old school
      • won awards for historical preservation development
    • 2. Museum
      Photo: Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre Architect: Herzog & de Moren
      Photo: Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre
      Architect: Herzog & de Moren
      • Caixia Forum, Madrid, 2007
      • Herzog & de Moren
      • combined an old abandoned electrical station with new construction
    • 3. Commercial
      • Bastard Store, Studiometrico, 2011
        • 1950’s Cinema large enough for the store
        • They retained as much of the character of the old building as possible.

Bibliography:

Baer, William C. “Empty Housing Space: An Overlooked Resource.” Policy Studies Journal 8.2 (1979): 220-27. Web.

Bergsdal, Håvard, Rolf André Bohne, and Helge Brattebø. “Projection of Construction and Demolition Waste in Norway.” Journal of Industrial Ecology 11.3 (2007): 27-39. Web.

Bullen, Peter A. “Adaptive Reuse and Sustainability of Commercial Buildings.” Facilities 25.1/2 (2007): 20-31. Web.

Power, A. “Housing and Sustainability: Demolition or Refurbishment?”Proceedings of the ICE – Urban Design and Planning 163.4 (2010): 205-16. Web.

“47-2061 Construction Laborers.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

Joint Center for Housing Studies. “America’s Rental Housing: Homes for a Diverse Nation.” (Publication of the Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University). HARVARD JOINT CENTER FOR HOUSING STUDIES, 8 Mar. 2006. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.

Kellert, S. R. 2005. Chapter 4: Biophilic design in Building for Life: Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection.Washington, DC: Island Press. pp. 123-177.

Power, Anne. “Does Demolition or Refurbishment of Old and Inefficient Homes Help to Increase Our Environmental, Social and Economic Viability?” Energy Policy 36.12 (2008): 4487-501. Web.

SCHALMO, Barbara Elwood. “COVERING THE COST OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Exploring the Adequacy of the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit to Cover the Increased Development Cost of Adaptive Reuse

“Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Transportation Sector Emissions. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

Projects for Affordable Housing.” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, May 2008. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.

Tränkler, Josef O.v., Isa Walker, and Max Dohmann. “Environmental Impact of Demolition Waste — An Overview on 10 Years of Research and Experience.” Waste Management 16.1-3 (1996): 21-26. Web.

Viewing Sustainability: SD Project Statement

The Engine Company 212’s new firehouse is located within Brooklyn, New York, specifically located in the Greenpoint neighborhood. This site is a beautiful contrast of so many different worlds. The surrounding buildings are majority industrial with a history behind them. We are located on the North side of the Bushwick inlet. The city of New York has a park planned on the South side of the inlet extending to the North side, beside our site. Our site also looks across the river to the East to the Manhattan skyline.

My design is based upon the NYC park plan and appreciating each of these extremely different vibes, but also very heavily influenced by sustainable building techniques such as rainwater collection, natural ventilation, green roof temperature regulation, solar panels, and so many more. The design is also incorporates a courtyard, open towards the park to invite the public in to the firehouse, because community is so important to the firefighters. There will be pathways through the first level for the public. These pathways will allow for the public to interact with the interior of the apparatus bay and the Monitor Museum to pull in viewers, but with no need to go inside if time does not allow.

Photo: ZEB Pilot House – Snøhetta