The idea of adaptive reuse is not a new one. Many architects and builders found themselves without work after the 2008 recession and had to get creative. The term most commonly pops up when you read about historical restoration: an old mill being converted to a brewery or a former school turned into condominiums.
Commonly recognized as a highly sustainable option, adaptive reuse has become a widely utilized alternative to demolition and new construction and, as Blake Jackson points out in his article (see page 14), “Existing buildings already have sewer, utility, and transportation infrastructure connections to the broader community, greatly lowering infrastructure costs.”
Take a look at the vacant malls all across America. The days of brick and mortar retail are gone. These empty, often two-story, buildings sit abandoned, taking up space. Housatonic Community College (HCC) in Bridgeport, Conn. is the site of a former mall. In fact, the award-winning Lafayette Hall at HCC (designed by Amenta Emma Architects) is an example of how a once “tired mall” was transformed into a more welcoming open space that is now part of the city’s fabric.
The term “built environment,” which simply means human-made environment, was first coined in the 1990s and has been widely used ever since. The idea that we are responsible for the environment we create makes sense. It puzzles me that humans (mostly of Western society) will spend money on organic food or clothing, yet are slower to consider the positive impacts of green building practices.
However, we as an industry are choosing to build better more often, using carbon-negative materials like cross-laminated timber (see page 5) and embracing net-zero and passive house technology. The idea that AEC professionals play a significant role in contributing to our society’s resiliency has definitely sunk in. It is truly the professionals in our industry that are taking the biggest steps to ensure a better future for our planet and generations to come.
I’m proud to share this green supplement with you.
Enjoy the read!