Posts Tagged ‘Adaptive reuse’

From power plant to luxury community

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

A master plan for London’s Battersea Power Station reads like a utopian post-industrialist fantasy and a developer’s dream: a power plant reborn as dense community center by 2020.

It’s a non-local story of adaptive reuse that should result in an interesting addition to London’s skyline.

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Beyond Pink Floyd

The power plant itself (you may know it from Pink Floyd’s Animals album cover) will serve as more than art deco centerpiece, with a new biofuel-powered co-generation plant in its basement sending water vapor through the 1933 plant’s chimneys. Other buildings of the plant will be converted to offices.

A transparent solar canopy will cover some of its buildings and plazas and, combined with an “eco-chimney,” will reduce the need for air conditioning.

The master plan, conceived by Rafael Vinoly Architects and Real Estate Opportunities Ltd., also features luxury apartments, a waterpark and connections to the tube. (Rendering shown above is by Rafael Vinoly Architects)

The relics of industry can tell a very important story about a city’s past glory and gloom.

Seattle’s Gasworks Park was landmarked, letting us marvel at its grotesque beauty without condos or a waterpark ever competing for our interest (though free concerts there by local legends like Pearljam have offered some distraction).

It’s interesting to look at the different tools cities employ to keep these industrial beasts alive.

The greenies v. the preservationists

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Crosscut’s Knute Berger wrote an interesting column today about the animosity between historic preservationists and green building proponents.

Too often, he says, green building techniques and density goals are used as justification for tearing down Seattle’s usable buildings and squandering their embodied energy and inherent greenness.

Meanwhile, historic preservationists get sidetracked by the historic and architectural significance of the buildings they are trying to protect. They don’t put that same effort into making a sustainability case for keeping those buildings.

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Adaptive reuse in Portland's Pearl District

If Seattle really wants to be sustainable, Berger says, the two groups need to form an alliance. Both need to embrace the environmental value of the existing building and build from there.

I think things get complicated when density concerns are added into the mix.

But some cities, like Portland, have done a great job of encouraging adaptive reuse of historic building stock. These aren’t the landmarked buildings that allow only minimal changes, but the buildings that serve as mainstay to new floors of condos or offices above or around.

The federal government even offers a 10 percent tax credit for adaptive reuse of certain historic buildings. There are a few caveats, like making sure the addition can be removed and the historic building is left largely intact.

It could be painful for preservation purists to see some buildings getting such a drastic face-lift. It will likely be even harder for those greenies who like to start from scratch and leave their fingerprints.