Breathing New Life into Old Spaces: The Advantages of Adaptive Reuse

What is Adaptive Re-Use?

Adaptive reuse is the process of reusing an existing building for a purpose other than for which it was originally built or designed. It is a design practice that often is employed when an owner has a building that has reached its end of useful life but the building itself is still in great shape. This could be due to the changing needs of the neighborhood, outgrowing the space, or consolidating operations to a more convenient location.

Reusing a building's shell and in-place infrastructure can provide many financial benefits as well as environmental. Not only can an adaptive reuse project be more cost-effective than a new construction project, but these projects can also help maintain the historic nature of a neighborhood and slow urban sprawl.

Advantages of Adaptive Reuse

Real-World Example of Adaptive Re-Use:

A great example of adaptive re-use is the Lincoln Schemmer office. Michael Sinclair, head architect of the Lincoln office, had this to say about the project.

“It was the fall of 2019, and as Schemmer’s Lincoln office outgrew the 11th floor of the Federal Trust Building in downtown Lincoln, the search was on for a space that would provide an opportunity for sustainable design by means of rehabilitation and adaptive reuse. As a core tenant of our design philosophy, the team immediately set their sights on existing buildings to satisfy this criterion.

Adaptive Reuse

A perfect location was ultimately found in the rapidly developing, vibrant Telegraph District located on the east edge of downtown and bordering Antelope Valley.

Making use of an empty 1950’s concrete and brick maintenance garage, the Schemmer team infused a creative vision into the raw space. The large, open area and flexibility of the layout made it extremely suitable for this endeavor.

Homage is paid to the textures and legacy of the space’s former use, by keeping the brick masonry walls, the large prominent concrete columns, and traces of signage exposed and unaltered throughout the new design. The concrete floor and its wonderful patchwork of aggregates were left exposed in all circulation areas and received a gentle polishing for its next chapter of life.

Expansive windows were added to the opaque walls to the north allowing for generous daylighting during prime studio hours. Furthermore, operable windows were a must, allowing for fresh natural ventilation on demand.

These very intentional design moves not only breathed new life into the empty shell but also preserved the character and history of the building, contributing to the overall cultural richness of the historic district all the while minimizing environmental impact."


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