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Corporate modernist buildings increasingly popular fodder for adaptive reuse projects

Adaptive Reuse

Corporate modernist buildings increasingly popular fodder for adaptive reuse projects

Suburban office and retail complexes are targets for reimagined development


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | February 4, 2024
Image by Klaus Aires Alves from Pixabay
Image by Klaus Aires Alves from Pixabay

Beginning in the 1970s adaptive reuse projects transformed 19th and early 20th Century buildings into distinctive retail destinations. Increasingly, developers of adaptive reuse projects are targeting outmoded corporate buildings of the 1950s to 1980s.

The first wave of adaptive reuse projects focused on brick structures with long rows of identical windows paralleling a pier, a river, or a rail line. Modernist buildings, often boxy structures composed of concrete exteriors, present a far different aesthetic for designers.

Adaptive reuse brings new life to modernist buildings

A report by Bloomberg on the latest adaptive reuse trend includes a description of a Houston project that transformed a 550,000-sf former postal facility into a combination event space, food hall, and coworking complex. 

The project cut large holes in the roof for skylights. Other modernist building reformations cut giant holes in existing structures to bring in more daylight or create larger interior spaces. There were no outcries from historical preservationists over the drastic reconfigurations.

Despite the challenges, including the need to undo single-use zoning at many sites, the reimagining of the modernist era’s “hundreds of millions of square feet of outdated office parks, shopping malls, factories, distribution centers and their associated parking lots” is necessary for environmental reasons, the report says. Otherwise, millions of pounds of embodied carbon would be released back into the environment by demolishing them.

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Mixed-Use

A surging master-planned community in Utah gets its own entertainment district

Since its construction began two decades ago, Daybreak, the 4,100-acre master-planned community in South Jordan, Utah, has been a catalyst and model for regional growth. The latest addition is a 200-acre mixed-use entertainment district that will serve as a walkable and bikeable neighborhood within the community, anchored by a minor-league baseball park and a cinema/entertainment complex.




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