Recycled buildings

Things don't always turn out the way they've been planned.  The buildings that were put up decades ago may no longer serve their original purposes. 

Converting old buildings into new homes
Barrie Davies with Nigel Begg ; photography by Nigel Rigden.
Ramsbury : Crowood, 2010.
Residential property prices have risen dramatically over the years, yet there are thousands of dilapidated and unused buildings which can present a much cheaper way of acquiring a home. In this new paperback edition for 2010, every aspect of converting types of redundant property is examined, including surveys, legislation and regulations, planning applications, professional help and advice, finance, budgeting, and insurance. The study also discusses evaluation and preparation of plans, briefing of professional consultants, design and location of various living spaces, external features, lighting, heating, ventilation, mains services, energy conservation, and acoustics. Guiding the reader through details such as tenders, contracts, specifications, and quotations, this guide also assists in choosing builders, timetables, and on-site operations. A number of case studies which demonstrate what can be achieved with different types of property are also included.
Brooklyn modern : architecture, interiors & design
Diana Lind ; photography by Yoko Inoue.
New York : Rizzoli ; c2008.
Aesthetic improvements -- Gut renovations -- New work.
Temple of invention : history of a national landmark
Charles J. Robertson.
London : Scala Publishers, 2006.
This richly illustrated volume traces the history of this landmark building, documenting its varied functions and evolving architecture with rarely seen photographs and architectural plans.
Minimalist lofts
[editorial coordination and text, Aurora Cuito ; translation, Bill Bain].
New York : Loft & HBI : Distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Watson-Guptill Publications, 2002.
Here is a resplendent selection of lofts that stand out for their pure lines and hard-hitting designs. See how today's leading architects converted industrial spaces into homes, offices, and shops. Filled with over 370 dazzling photos and detailed layouts. Copyright #169; Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.
Structural analysis of historic buildings : restoration, preservation, and adaptive reuse applications for architects and engineers
J. Stanley Rabun.
New York, NY : John Wiley & Sons, c2000.
For any building professional involved in the rapidly growing field of restoring, preserving, and adapting historic buildings, Structural Analysis of Historic Buildings is an invaluable structural handbook.

Imaginative reconstruction

Mary Engelbreit's colorful, whimsical drawings have grown into a business with over $100 million in annual sales.  In the business of creativity, Engelbreit was aware of the potential creative energy released by imaginative reconstruction.

When her business grew too large for her St. Louis home, Engelbreit moved it first to a converted firehouse, and later to a larger building that had started out as a Greek Orthodox Church. 

(Meet Mary Engelbreit)

An intriguing area of architecture and design is taken up with the recycling of existing structures, the giving of new life to buildings whose time has apparently passed. 

There are many reasons why this approach can be attractive:

  • Expense.  It can be significantly cheaper to rework rather than build new.
  • Quality.  Old buildings are often built more solidly and with greater craft than contemporary structures.
  • Possibility.  The spaces being reconfigured can be larger and more dramatic than they really need to be.
  • Virtue.  In a world of finite resources, it feels more responsible to adapt instead of replace.

The possibilities are endless.  Schools and churches have been converted to residential units.  Factories become lofts, for homes and for studios.  In 2005 the Archdiocese of St. Louis is presently marketed $30 million worth of church-owned buildings, making them available for new uses. 

In what was one of the largest-scale recyclings in the United States, St. Louis's gorgeous-but-unused Union Station was given a life after trains, when its space was given over to shops, restaurants, and hotel rooms.  Many other historic buildings in St. Louis have also been recycled.

New times demand new uses, and the only rule seems to be "Never say die."

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff