Adaptive Reuse & Sustainability


[image via Aaron Leitz Photography]

One of my favorite aspects of sustainable design is adaptive reuse of a building. For example, one of the internships I had was for an architecture firm whose workplace was in an old historic library. I love seeing the character of an old building combined with new and modern elements. It creates such a striking balance.

You could actually say that my excitement for sustainable design started sooner than this semester’s restaurant project which I talked about on Tuesday. It technically started (at least) last semester during the Leadership in Design class I am taking. We were asked to come up with a project for us to work on which obviously incorporated: leadership and design. I was really inspired by this talk by Project H, in part by the youth component and also because where I live in Pullman now, nearby towns are facing the “symptoms” that Emily Pilloton talks about. I proposed to the leadership class that we do something similar to Project H. People were enthusiastic about it, and so we have started really implementing it this month.

kolstrand building in seattle

kolstrand building in seattle

[image via Aaron Leitz Photography]

Our project consists of engaging local youth to be involved in the future of their communities. We suggest doing this by advocating for existing historic buildings of the downtown area to be adapted and reused for stores, restaurants, etc. rather than building new structures. We are fortunate to live in a community full of gorgeous buildings with a lot of history and character. Why not use them in a way that people can enjoy them instead of left vacant or used for storage? As designers and architects, we want to provide the community with ideas of how they can redesign these buildings and adapt them for new needed functions while still keeping their history in tact. At the same time, we hope to teach interested students about the process of design, getting them involved by letting them choose what these new functions for the building would be and showing them how they can take this idea from concept to reality.

I am really excited for tomorrow because we are taking some of the local high school students with us to measure one of three buildings we have to choose from to develop a prototype. It’s the first step for our design process where we really get down and dirty. I hope the students are as excited as we are to work together with the community. We already have several people who are helping us by providing access to some of the buildings and keeping us connected with the students.

By the way, the images on this post are taken by Aaron Leitz and show examples of how an old building in Seattle was transformed into a really cool studio workplace. I love how the building keeps its historical past evident for everyone to see but also has a modern edge with the glass addition on the roof. Eventually, I will try to share images from the process of our own local project!

Wish us luck that everything goes as planned for tomorrow!

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