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Unexpected Sustainability: Adaptive Reuse

Sustainability in construction is still something experts in our industry are working to wrap their heads around. Like the rest of the construction field, we’re always looking for ways to be more green with our practices. One of the most popular and innovative ways to put green practices into place is through what’s known as adaptive reuse. 

Adaptive reuse refers to repurposing buildings that have outgrown or outlived their original intended use and turning them into something else entirely. In many cases, every effort is made to maintain original historical elements and architectural details, too. It adds charm and character while maintaining the original integrity of a building. An old gas station might be turned into a restaurant. An office building might be repurposed as a hotel. A warehouse might become the next great food hall and tourist destination. 

Regardless of the finished product, adaptive reuse is an incredible way to save old buildings and give them new life while also conserving materials. The practice is inherently green, too. Imagine the cost, energy and material reduction when using the shell of an old building to create a new destination. 

In our hometown of Atlanta, adaptive reuse is becoming more and more the norm for architects and developers alike. And in a city that lost many of its original historic buildings, this trend is one that maintains Atlanta’s newer history. Some adaptive reuse projects around town include Ponce City Market, the former Sears Roebuck & Co. building turned shopping and dining destination and The Candler Hotel, a boutique hotel housed in the former Coca-Cola Headquarters. 

Evergreen has always proudly helmed renovation and adaptive reuse projects. One of them is the UGA Jackson Street Building at the College of Environmental Design at the University of Georgia. Originally constructed in 1962 and designed by seminal Atlanta modernist Joe Amisano, this landmark was repurposed to provide contemporary design studios, classrooms, lecture halls, offices, and the Owens Library. Conservation and rehabilitation included advanced chilled beam and water recycling system additions to achieve LEED Gold Certification, win the 2012 Georgia AC Chapter Award of Excellence Restoration Category and further exemplify the mission of UGA’s College of Environment and Design. 

Another project we spearheaded that showcased strides in adaptive reuse is Georgia Tech’s Caddell Building, a classroom and faculty office building adapted from a 1950s concrete and steel framed structure. It is a visible testament to the potential of creative reuse of existing facilities, an adaptive approach to the configuration of academic spaces, and the power that innovative sustainability strategies can have on the overall architectural presence of a built structure in an urban campus setting. 

Finally, the corporate headquarters for non-profit organization Global Ministries also comes to mind. We utilized the existing Grace United Methodist Church on Ponce de Leon Avenue and converted the building from a religious facility and classroom building to a thriving office space.

Like the buildings themselves, adaptive reuse is here to stay, and we’re ready to be a part of any future projects that embrace this model of sustainability. 

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