Adaptive Reuse

Long Beach's Palace Hotel Reopens as Affordable Housing

Posted on: February 27th, 2012 by David Garber 1 Comment


Everyone loves a good preservation before and after. But for the community of Long Beach, California, the Palace Hotel (now just called The Palace)  restoration and reuse was about much more than the building. Last Wednesday, the community gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the renovated two-story building that now includes 13 apartments for young adults who have aged out of the foster care system.

The Palace as it looks today. (Photo: LINC Housing)

The renovation of the historic 1929 hotel was spearheaded by LINC Housing, a California statewide organization formed to preserve and create affordable housing. In addition to the 13 studio apartments, the building includes a manager's unit, common areas (like a great roof deck), and offices for program services. The ground floor retail space will be occupied by iCracked, a mobile phone and tablet repair service that will hire residents from The Palace.

The Palace Hotel, pre-renovation: old murals, boarded windows... (Photos: LINC Housing)

"It's been incredibly rewarding to watch the transformation of this historic building, and it will be even more rewarding to see these young adults successfully transition from foster care to independence," said Hunter L. Johnson, LINC's president and CEO.

The community gathered last Wednesday for the building's grand opening. (Photo: LINC Housing)

Like many adaptive reuse project across the country, this renovation includes a variety of green design features that up the building's efficiency and long-term sustainability. For example, the appliances are all Energy Star certified, there's a high efficiency HVAC system that services the building, and each apartment is fitted out with dual-flush toilets. Solar panels and fuel cell technology were also incorporated to help reduce utility costs. Although it's still going through the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED process, The Palace is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification.

David Garber is the blog editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Preservation Green Lab Releases New Report on the Environmental Value of Building Reuse

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


For a long time we’ve known that preservation helps create quality communities that are character-rich, vibrant, and dynamic places in which to live, work and play.  And there’s also been lots of good news over the years about the economic value that preservation brings – especially in tough economic times.  But today, with the Preservation Green Lab’s release of The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse, we have the most comprehensive research to date showing preservation is good for the environment too. The findings from this study offer additional compelling evidence that preservation makes sense for communities.

Each year, approximately 1 billion square feet of buildings are demolished. The Greenest Building explores the environmental impacts associated with the decision to demolish and replace existing buildings – and especially the carbon dioxide savings that might be offered by reusing and retrofitting these places instead of demolishing them. With generous funding from The Summit Foundation, this effort brought together a team of leading thinkers with unparalleled expertise in building and life cycle science.  The study team included Cascadia Green Building Council, Green Building Services, Quantis, and Skanska.

Using life cycle assessment, an internationally recognized approach to evaluating the potential environmental and human health impacts associated with products and services throughout their respective life cycles, this study compares the reuse of existing buildings to demolition and new construction.  Six different building types are examined: single family; multifamily; commercial office; mixed-use (main street style); elementary school, and warehouses converted to multifamily and commercial buildings.

Notable study findings include:

  • Building reuse typically yields fewer environmental impacts than new construction when comparing buildings of similar size, functionality and energy efficiency.  This result was found to be true irrespective of climate – though differences in climate can affect the extent of savings
  • The absolute carbon-related impact reductions can be substantial when these results are scaled across the building stock of a city.  Consider this example: In Portland, Oregon retrofitting just one percent of the city’s office buildings and single family homes that would otherwise be demolished and rebuilt over the next ten years would help to meet 15 percent of the entire county’s total CO2 reduction targets.
  • The study also explores how the reuse of an average performing existing building would stack up against a new, efficient building; it’s often assumed that a new, green building will rapidly compensate for any climate change impacts that occur during the construction process. The Greenest Building analysis finds that it can take 10 to 80 years for a new energy efficient building to compensate, through efficient operations, for the climate change impacts created by its construction.  The study finds that the majority of building types in different climates will take between 20-30 years to overcome the initial carbon impacts from construction.
  • The design of buildings matters. Those buildings that tend to use the fewest materials will have the most significant environmental savings – and in fact renovation projects that require many new materials can reduce or even negate the benefits of reuse.  It’s important to make sure buildings (whether new or existing) are designed to minimize material inputs -- and to make sure designers have the tools needed to select materials with the best environmental profile.

The bottom line:  As preservationists, the work we do to save buildings makes sense for our communities, our pocket books and our environment!  For more information on The Greenest Building, download the full report or see our report webpage.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Preservation Round-Up: Infill, Adaptation, and Discovery Edition

Posted on: November 17th, 2011 by David Garber


691 Massachusetts Ave. in Boston carries the rhythm of its older neighbors into a more contemporary look. (Photo: Chang Zhang of Urbanica, Inc.)

Contemporary building artfully fills a gap in South End neighborhood - The Boston Globe

"You might not even notice, walking or driving by, the new apartment building at 691 Massachusetts Ave. in the South End. That’s because it fits so beautifully into its historic neighborhood. But take a second look, and you realize that this building isn’t just deferential to its surroundings. It’s also fresh, inventive, confident, and contemporary. (So were its neighbors, long ago, when they were new.)"

372 Lafayette Street – Take Two! - Off the Grid

"Back in August, we wrote about 372 Lafayette Street, the proposed new building designed by Morris Adjmi that will – once given the go-ahead by the Landmarks Preservation Commission – occupy the site of the existing one-story garage on the corner of Great Jones Street in the NoHo Historic District. ... Today, the architect returned to the LPC with a revised design, which the Commission unanimously approved."

Details on Pearl’s hotel still sketchySan Antonio Express-News

A week after the Historic and Design Review Commission gave conceptual approval for a hotel at the Pearl, the developers are keeping the details close to the chest. According to preliminary plans submitted to the HDRC last week, the hotel is an adaptive reuse project of the Peal’s historic Brew House and Cellar buildings with selective demolition.

Jamestown Thought to Yield Ruins of Oldest U.S. Protestant Church - New York Times

For more than a decade, the marshy island in Virginia where British colonists landed in 1607 has yielded uncounted surprises. And yet William M. Kelso’s voice still brims with excitement as he plants his feet atop a long-buried discovery at the settlement’s heart: what he believes are the nation’s oldest remains of a Protestant church.

4 Groups Vying To Own Historic USS Olympia Pass Muster So Far - CBS Philly

The process of transferring the USS Olympia to a new caretaker is moving forward. Four of the six organizations that applied for ownership of the historic warship have made it through the latest phase of the transfer process. The Olympia, commissioned 116 years ago this month, saw action in the Spanish-American War as Commodore Dewey’s flagship, and after World War I brought the body of the Unknown Soldier back from France.

Lego Architecture’s Robie House: My Favorite Lego Kit Yet - Wired

"After opening the box, I was immediately drawn to the instruction manual with its thick and glossy pages. I had to get right to building, but I also wanted to read through the other information. In addition to the many, many steps for building this model, the manual includes plenty of history and background about the Frederick C. Robie House and about Frank Lloyd Wright to put your build in context. It includes some detailed description of the design and construction of the house, and plenty of photographs and copies of the house plans."

How times have changed in New York City! Extraordinary colour photographs reveal 1940s life in the Big Apple in all its glory - The Mail

It’s been 70 years since an Indiana photographer visited New York City and returned home with an amazing collection of holiday snaps. But Charles Weever Cushman’s pictures are even more impressive today, as they were taken on pricey colour Kodachrome and look far more recent than they actually are.

Images of America in Crisis in the 1970s - The Atlantic

As the 1960s came to an end, the rapid development of the American postwar decades had begun to take a noticeable toll on the environment, and the public began calling for action. In November 1971, the newly created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a massive photo documentary project, called DOCUMERICA, to record these changes. More than 100 photographers were hired not only to document specific environmental issues, but to capture images of everyday life, showing how we interacted with the environment and capturing the way parts of America looked at that moment in history.

 David Garber is a member of the Digital and New Media team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Re-Purposing Nebraska’s Early 20th Century Federal Buildings

Posted on: September 13th, 2011 by Guest Writer


Written by  Laurie Richards

Nebraska has some amazing examples of re-purposed federal buildings across the state.

Ariel shot of the Grand Manse in Lincoln, NE.

Ariel shot of the Grand Manse in Lincoln, NE.

In Lincoln, the Grand Manse is located in the 1904 federal building that housed the US Post Office and federal offices. In addition to apartments and offices, the building now houses The Blue Orchid restaurant and a grand hall for weddings and receptions. The original US Court Room, most famous for the 1973 Wounded Knee Trials, is also available for meetings and receptions.  The building’s tenacious private developer and management have saved a historic register property from the wrecking ball and made a huge addition to Lincoln’s economic and cultural vibrancy.

Another excellent example of adaptive use is in Kearney where the 1911 Post Office was re-purposed as the Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA).  The building was slated to be demolished by the city when a group of visionaries and arts supporters stepped forward and put a plan together to not only completely remodel the inside and restore the exterior, but to include a tasteful addition and sculpture garden on the site.

The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) in Kearney, NE.

The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) in Kearney, NE.

Other cities across the state that have re-purposed their historic federal buildings include  Fremont, which now houses the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, convention and visitor’s bureau, community foundation offices , and the Main Street office;  and Plattsmouth, where the historic Post Office building is now City Hall.

North Platte envisions their former Post Office becoming an arts center.  North Platte’s Creativity Unlimited Arts Council has an amazing vision for the historic 1913 federal building on the corner of Fifth and Jeffers downtown.  If they are successful, the new Prairie Arts Center will be a wonderful addition to downtown North Platte.

The old Post Office in downtown McCook is now an antique store and part of a cluster of historic buildings on each corner of the intersection with historic Norris Avenue, named after the founder of the Unicameral Legislature system (Nebraska’s legislative branch has only one house) and one of the founders of rural electrification through the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In Scottsbluff, the old Post Office in the Panhandle Community has been re-purposed as offices for an engineering and architecture firm.

Nebraska has been successful with re-purposing federal buildings statewide. Each one represents the stories of successful community projects and private development that preserve our heritage and tell our story.

Laurie Richards is the eastern field representative Heritage Nebraska, in Partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

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