Sustainability is a word that has been around for a while but has become a current buzzword in many fields, not the least of which is architecture.
Sustainability is a word that has been around for a while but has become a current buzzword in many fields, not the least of which is architecture. The practice emphasizes energy efficiency and health and also benefits the planet by reducing reliance on non-renewable resources such as coal and oil.
Green architecture can promote and maintain a cleaner environment. With so much evidence of climate change upon us, practicing sustainability can help us create healthy and productive environments.
I opened my interiors firm in 1986. At that time, the term “adaptive reuse” was not heard very frequently in the architectural world.
Now, however, the practice has since become one of the key ways of promoting sustainability. Adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an existing building for a purpose other than which it was originally built or designed for, and it is an effective strategy for optimizing sustainability efforts.
One of our earliest commissions was the adaptive reuse renovation of Krisheim, the Tudor-Jacobean mansion of the George Woodward family in Chestnut Hill. Built in 1912, it served as the family residence for nearly 50 years. After a brief period as a religious retreat, the owners decided to create several individual residences within the mansion. Retaining the original first-floor layout as public spaces, the second and third floors were remodeled into twelve individual luxury apartments.
The most important aspect of the project was the meticulous maintenance of intricate moldings and architectural detail that was preserved and reused throughout the new spaces. The renovation won much acclaim as a prime example of an adaptive reuse project that not only saved a historically significant residence but became an early example of the importance of “green” design in sustainability.
We have continued to be very lucky in our practice, emphasizing that not only can adaptive reuse be an environmentally sound practice, but it can also produce some of the most unique, intriguing, and historically fascinating interiors.
We were so lucky to be retained for one of our favorite projects, which was the adaptive reuse of an original carriage house on Moreland Ave. Lucky, because all of the original architectural features were still in place; the original tin ceiling and window configuration of the tack room, the solid wood beams and columns of the carriage room, and most significantly, there were several original horse stalls with their mahogany rails and rolling doors still in place.
It was such a joy to imagine how these all-important features could be incorporated into a finished design. The project became one that, again, not only saved a historically significant structure but created a unique residence, utilizing original materials and architectural details that could not even be imagined, let alone economically feasible, in “new construction” today.
So, if you are considering a new residence, a new business location, or are just looking for an interesting renovation project, keep sustainability in mind, and look for that unique adaptive reuse opportunity. It could be as fascinating as an original carriage house, or as complex as a 30,000 square-foot Tudor Jacobean mansion, but, as long as you are thinking about sustainability, you will end up with a building like no other, and saving the planet at the same time.
Patricia Marian Cove is the principal of Architectural Interiors and Design and can be reached through her website at www.patriciacove.com.