Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

The Drivers Behind Adaptive Reuse

Our hometown is one of those cities that came of age during an industrial boom. Because of this, there is plenty of historical space in the CBD that is full of architectural details and prime for adaptive reuse. We’ve been a part of several of these projects. So the question I asked myself is, “Why has this initiative become a driver in the redevelopment of our core cities?”  A few thoughts:

Obviously, federal, state and local tax incentives have helped tremendously.

Another thought might be that these places remind occupants of the origins of their cities, a connect with the past?

Every existing building is unique and the design has to adapt to this existing shape, so maybe it’s the uniqueness appealing to our individuality that also might be a draw.

Or maybe people are drawn to the raw and exposed elements of the interiors in many of these buildings.

The answer is probably a mix of these elements. At any rate, it’s becoming clear that exposed brick, tall ceilings, polished concrete floors and large windows aren’t just for adaptive reuse anymore. The new multifamily units we are involved with incorporate many of these features. And while ground up construction may lack the tax incentives, it does bypass existing conditions, giving designers complete control over the finished product.

Designers are saying “Industrial Chic” style has the staying power of many of the classic building styles we see re-imagined time and time again. Via traditional adaptive reuse or new design, it seems that the trend of uniting industrial components with warmer design elements will stand the test of time.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.