Adaptive reuse refers to repurposing a space for something other than its original design. This is frequently seen in urban areas where charter schools often repurpose defunct shopping centers for schools. The charter school comes to where the students are and saves money by not building a school from the ground up. There are many other examples of adaptive reuse spread across the United States.
The luxury Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas was once a brewery built in 1884. The brewery bottled beer (and juice during Prohibition) until 2001 when it finally shut down. Thanks to a local investment firm with vision and some excellent architectural planning services, the building was repurposed into a unique 146-room hotel on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Many details of the original space can still be seen by visitors and guests including a giant ammonia compressor in the lobby and fermenting tanks in the bar.
The High Line
Green space is precious in Manhattan and local Chelsea residents seized the opportunity to add a little bit more of it to their New York neighborhood with the adaptive reuse of an elevated freight train rail line in 2009. The public park in the sky features almost 1.5 miles of green space, walking trails, overlooks, lawns, seating, and wooded thickets. There are also food vendors and arts facilities in the shadow of The High Line.
Richmond Dairy Apartments
This funky space in Richmond, Virginia has had many lives beginning when it opened its doors in 1914 as the home of the Richmond Dairy Company. The red brick Tudor-style castle-like building is flanked by giant milk bottles meant to advertise the freshness of the product being bottled within. After the company closed in 1970, the building became a hub for artists until it was finally repurposed into the easily recognizable Richmond Dairy apartments.
Adaptive reuse is the ultimate recycling and upcycling. Instead of letting historically significant or interesting spaces turn into urban blight, innovative minds repurpose the space for its second (or third) life through careful architectural planning and creative vision.