8 Stories of Architects Embracing Refurbishment and Adaptive Reuse

Established practices have continued to promote the transformation of existing structures over the past year. Adaptive reuse and renovations are becoming an increasingly important aspect of contemporary architecture. From the renovations of historic structures to the adaptive use of old facilities, the idea to give new life to buildings has been accepted as not only a sustainable practice but also as a way to strengthen the city’s cultural and urban identity. Explore 8 projects and designs that demonstrate a common practice for reusing existing buildings.

OMA/ Jason Long’s Adaptive Use of Historic Houston Post Office is Open to the Public

OMA / Jason Long's Adaptive Reuse of Historic Houston Post Office. Image © Leonid Furmansky

Jason Long and OMA New York transformed the old Post Office mail sorting warehouse to become a public destination and cultural center for Houston. They used precise interventions and adaptive reuse to transform the building into something that is both new and familiar. The Barbara Jordan Post Office warehouse, built in 1962, was used until 2015 by the United States Postal Service. In 2019, the site was redeveloped. The idea was to preserve the enormous building and integrate it into downtown Houston.

MVRDV Completes the Transformation of a Former Factory in Shenzhen Into a Creative Hub with a Green Roof

Idea Factory by MVRDV. Image © Xia Zhi

MVRDV recently completed the Idea Factory. This transformed a disused factory into an important creative hub with a community-oriented focus. The adaptive reuse project is located in Shenzhen’s urban area of Nantou. It refurbishes an existing structure and adds a layer of public space. This rooftop bamboo landscape is a hub of activities and amenities, creating a new space for residents in historically disadvantaged areas.

David Chipperfield Architects will Transform Historic Buildings in New York into Cultural Spaces

1014 Fifth Avenue . Image © Sebastian Kaempf KARO Architects

David Chipperfield architects won the competition to remodel 1014 Fifth Avenue. This historic 1907 townhouse was owned by the German government. It is used for cultural programming and as a place for dialogue and meeting. The project was titled “An Open House”, and it was developed in collaboration with New York-based KARO Architects, Patarus Group and Patarus Group. It reorganizes and creates a framework for cultural exchange and honors the building’s history.

Studio Gang transforms an old Chicago Post Office into a Garment Manufacturing Studio and Community Hub

Courtesy of Studio Gang

Studio Gang has unveiled 63rd house, the design for Blue Tin Production’s new manufacturing facility in Chicago’s southwest. The new headquarters is an adaptive reuse project built from Chicago’s 1920 brick post office. It will include a mix of artist and meeting spaces around a central community space, which “centralizes workers’ well-being and deepens connections with neighborhood residents and partners and builds long-term economic mobility across the city.”.

Marcel Breuer’s iconic Brutalist building is being transformed into an Eco-friendly Boutique Hotel

Marcel Breuer building to be converted into a hotel. Image © Becker + Becker

Becker and Becker are reimagining Marcel Breuer’s Pirelli Tire Building as a hotel. It is a landmark of Brutalist architecture in America. The structure, which had been abandoned for many years, was sold to Bruce Redman Becker, an architect and developer. He plans to make it a sustainable hotel with 165 rooms. This sculptural concrete structure is intended to serve as a model for passive design hotels by its unique architectural features, innovative adaptive reuse techniques, and other creative features.

GMP Converts Shanghai’s Steel Factory into Art Academy

GMP Converts Steel Factory in Shanghai Into Art Academy. Image © Willmore CG

Gmp won a competition to design a disused factory of stainless steel that would house the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts. The project preserves the core structure and ventilation towers of the 860 meter-long industrial building. This is in keeping with China’s renewed interest in adaptive reuse. It also redesigns the facade, accentuating the central axis with a mixture of social spaces. This design is part of an overall redevelopment plan that aims to transform the former industrial site in to an art district.

Herzog & de Meuron will convert the former San Francisco Power Plant to a mixed-use project

© Herzog & de Meuron. ImageStation A

Herzog & de Meuron began construction on the transformation of a San Fransico power plant building into a mixed-use development. The adaptive reuse of Station A was created in collaboration with Adamson Associates, a California-based firm. This project involves the redevelopment and extension of a 29-acre industrial property into a Dogpatch neighbourhood. Herzog & de Meuron’s design preserves and repurposes many features of the old industrial building, while adding a lightweight steel-framed structure to the top. This gives new life to one San Francisco landmarks.

MVRDV Starts Renovation of Shenzhen Tower

renovation of Shenzen Women & Children Centre. Image Courtesy of MVRDV

MVRDV has started work on Shenzen Women & Children Centre’s renovation. This mixed-use tower, which houses a variety of public functions, is now in dire need of a complete transformation. The building was built during the city’s rapid growth after the 1980s Special Economic Zone designation. MVRDV’s adaptive reuse project is a precedent in repurposing buildings with colour, greenery, and new public spaces.