Saturday, March 31, 2012

Adaptive Reuse in Ft. Worth: T&P Terminal

     A successful example of an adaptive reuse project in Fort Worth, Texas is the Texas and Pacific Railway Terminal Building. 

Originally built by the Texas and Pacific Railway it opened on October 25, 1931. It was designed in the Zigzag Moderne Art Deco style popular at the time. The opulent lobby features marble floors, metal-inlaid panel ceilings, and nickel and brass fixtures, incorporating the zigzags and chevrons distinctive of the style. The terminal facilities also included the larger Texas & Pacific Warehouse one block to the west, built in the same style as the station.

     The station declined along with the rest of the Lancaster Avenue area when the elevated portion of Interstate 30 was built in 1958, effectively separating the area from downtown. The railroad vacated the terminal in 1967 when passenger service in Fort Worth ended and the Department of Housing and Urban Development became the exclusive tenant from the early 1970s until the late 1990s.

     The passenger area of the station, which had not been occupied by HUD and was virtually untouched since 1967, was restored to its former beauty in 1999 at a cost of $1.4 million. Passenger service resumed at Texas & Pacific station on December 3, 2001 with the TRE's extension into Fort Worth. 

     In 2002, the elevated portion of I-30 was destroyed opening the Lancaster Avenue area for redevelopment.  Shortly thereafter, plans were announced to convert the building to a 330 room, railroad themed hotel.  Ultimately the hotel proposal was scrapped over concerns about its feasibility,  Instead, developers converted the building into lofts. 

The Pool at Texas & Pacific Lofts The T&P Lofts opened in July 2006.  Comprised of 46 lofts with NY-Soho style interiors, the lofts start in the low $100s. A historic diner on the ground floor was converted into a bar called the "T&P Tavern," which is popular with residents and locals alike.  The lofts also feature 24 hour conceirge services, an indoor pool, fitness center, business center, media room, and a community club room.

Barriers to Adaptive Reuse

     Although there are several potential advantages to adaptive reuse for certain projects, there are also significant barriers that must be overcome to ensure the success of adaptive reuse projects.
Some barriers may be common to many projects, while other issues will be project specific.  Due to the age of many buildings, a host of environmental, building code, zoning and possibly even structural concerns can add significant costs to a project and be significant impediments to reuse.  

     Environmental Concerns:  Existing buildings and sites often have environmental concerns.  For example, structures built between the mid-1920's and the mid-1970's may contain aesbestos or lead paint that must be abated as part of a renovation.  Even buildings constructed before the 1920's may contain aesbestos materials that were added as part of later renovations.  Also, many older buildings contain underground fuel storage tanks that were utilized to power oldboiler systems.  These fuels oil tanks did not commonly leak, but such tanks needto be removed and the site verified to be "clean," before adapative reuse can be completed.

2003 ICC International Building Code (IBC) - PaperbackBuilding Code Issues:  Building codes have typically changed several times since most existing buildings were originally constructed.  It is not unusual for existing stairwells, exits, parking, electrical systems and other items to not be in compliance with current codes a d zoning ordinances. Depending on the terms and treatment of the proposed adaptive reuse, theses issues may need to be addressed to bring the building "up to code."  In other situations, such as where a building may qualify for historical preservation treatment, the building may be "grandfathered," so that some code variance may be acceptable and not require remediation.

     Potential Structural Issues:  Changes in building uses can lead to structural concerns if the new uses have higher structural load requirements than the original building structure was designed to accomodate.  This may limit potential resuses of the building or call for creative re-engineeering to reinformce parts of the building to allow for the desired adaptaion at an increase cost.   Additionally, age may have led to the deterioration of certain structural systems or elements in the building, thus requiring their repair or replacement as part of the adaptive use process. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Advantages of Adaptive Reuse  

  Many times, historical sites are locted in the center of large cities due to the spatial development of the area.  Sometimes these buildings can be heritage-listed and therefore sold as an entity, rather than just for the land the building sits upon.  If sold this way, new tenants are forced to retrofit the building for their particular purpose.  This helps preserve some of the character of these buildings which is evident in their detailing and joinery.  This grand character can influence the "feel" of a building and the surrounding community.  This is demonstrated in the below photo where an old, historical warehouse has been converted into comfortable lofts.

     Other benefits from adaptive reuse include the acceleration of the building process because it can take less time to retrofit a project than to demolish and rebuild from the ground up.  Special financing may also be available for certain categories of older buildings.  This can make projects more economically feasible and / or profitable.
History & Examples of Adaptive Reuse in US 

First Adaptive Reuse Project in US:  Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco was the first major adaptive reuse project in the United States, opening in 1964. Urban waterfronts, historically used as points for industrial production and transport, are now selling-points for home buyers and renters. In American city neighborhoods that have seen racial and ethnic demographic changes over the last century, some houses of worship have been converted for other religions, and some others have been converted into residences.

Projects in Northeast & Midwest:  A large number of brick mill buildings in the Northeast United States have undergone mill conversion projects. In the United States, especially in the Northeast and Midwest, loft housing is one prominent result of adaptive reuse projects. Formerly-industrial areas such as the Meatpacking District in New York City, Callowhill in Philadelphia and SoMa in San Francisco are being transformed into residential neighborhoods through this process. This transformation is sometimes associated with gentrification. Station Square in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania is an example of a mile-long former Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad terminal and headquarters being converted into a retail, office, hotel, and tourist destination. The Pratt Street Power Plant in Baltimore was converted to offices, retail, and restaurants.

From Industry to Art:  Other museums adapted from old factories include "MassMOCA," the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Watermill Center in Long Island, New York, and The Dia Art Foundation Museum in upstate New York.

There is Adaptive Reuse in Baseball:  As illustrated above, in San Diego, California, the historic brick structure of the Western Metal Supply Co. building at 7th Avenue (between K and L Streets) was preserved and incorporated into the design of PETCO Park, the new baseball-only ballpark of the San Diego Padres, and can be prominently seen in the left-field corner of that ballpark. It now houses the team's flagship gift shop, luxury rental suites, a restaurant and rooftop bleachers, and its southeast corner serves as the ballpark's left field foul pole.

*Links and information courtesy of Wikipedia

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Economic Considerations of Adaptive Reuse

     Many things must be considered in determining the economic feasibility of adaptive reuse at a specific site.  Factors such as the reuse of materials and resources as well as a lesser need to expend energy, both labor and machine powered, can effectively decrease the monetary funds needed for adaptation and reuse of sites.  However, there can be hidden costs in reusing existing structures such as; the possible unknown contamination of older sites, decay of parts of the structure desired to be reused and the possible need to bring the building being modified into compliance with current building codes. 

     As with all projects, a cost--benefit analysis must be conducted.  For adaptive reuse projects the analysis necessarily requires the comparison of the cost of modification / adaptation of a structure to the cost of constructing a new building on the desired site.  The analysis must also include the additional step of evalauting the intangible value to the project and community of site adaptation, which may include the preservation of historical value, economic revitalization or  maintaining a communal identity. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Criteria for Adaptive Reuse Projects   

     The decision to adaptively reuse a particular building is often made by companies seeking to establish a particular brand or presence.  Regardless, certain criteria should be considered in evaluating whether a particular building should be conserved, reused or simply demolished for the land upon which it sits.  Some applicable criteria are the following:

1.  The societal value or importance of a site.
2.  Potential for the reuse of a site; i.e., the physical 
     damage sustained to a site and the site's ability to support the
     proposed future use.
3.  Character of the existing site in terms of proposed reuse.
4.  Historical importance of the site.
5.  Natural economic conditions of the site --- whether it is suitable
     climatically and can support the environmental work needed for
     site adaptation.
What Is Adaptive Reuse And Development?
     Adaptive reuse and redevolpment can be accurately described as "architectural recycling."  Along with brownfield reclamation, adaptive reuse can be a key factor in land conservation and the reduction of urban sprawl. 

New law targets dilapidated commercial buildings

     As building structure preferences, community tastes, and markets change, structures or parts of structures may be adapted to be included into a new vision for a community.  Such adaptation may serve to preserve the character and history of an area, while removing functional obsolescence and inefficiencies.  

     Adaptive reuse can be defined as: 1) a process of adapting an old structure for new purposes; 2) a process of repositioning a structure for some use other than that for which it was originally designed; and, 3) the reconditioning of a current structure to meet current market demand and standards. 

     Often, the types of buildings most likely to become subjects of adaptive reuse include; industrial buildings, as cities become gentrified and the process of manufacture moves away from the city; political buildings, such as palaces and buildings which cannot support current and future visitors of the site; and community buildings such as churches or schools where the use has changed over time.