Civic

Historic Power Plants: A Tricky (But Rewarding) Resource to Adapt

Posted on: February 6th, 2013 by Michael R. Allen 1 Comment

 

This is the final installment of our guest series on the remarkable transformation of a hospital power plant in St. Louis. This week looks at other American examples of power plant reuse and examines what makes the City Hospital project unique. Read the series to date.

Seaholm Power Plant in Austin, Texas. Credit: Thelonious Gonzo, flickr
Seaholm Power Plant in Austin, Texas.

The Power Plant at City Hospital is the only historic power plant building in the United States that has been reused for a large-volume recreational purpose. Power plants remain difficult buildings to reuse due to their large open volumes, which have to be retained to some extent to qualify for historic tax credits.

A survey of adaptive reuse projects at historic American power plants shows that they tend to be used for office, retail and even residential space. It’s common for floors to be added in these configurations, making it even more significant that the City Hospital Power Plant retained its original space.... Read More →

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.

Michael R. Allen

Michael R. Allen is the Director of the Preservation Research Office in St. Louis, which he founded in 2009. Recent activities include learning video editing and naming his cat after Oscar Niemeyer.

"Shop Life": Exploring the Immigrant Entrepreneur at the Tenement Museum

Posted on: January 2nd, 2013 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Schneiders' Saloon, Tenement Museum. Credit: Keiko Niwa
The re-created Schneiders' saloon at the Tenement Museum.

Written by Annie Polland, Vice President of Education and Programs, and Kira Garcia, Communications Manager at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s re-created apartments at 97 Orchard Street never housed heads of state or celebrities. But these homes are extraordinary places, making history vibrant, exciting, and relatable.

On December 3, the Tenement Museum (a National Trust Historic Site) inaugurated Shop Life, a new exhibit that explores a century of businesses once housed in the historic Tenement. This exhibit is both an extension of the work we’ve been doing for nearly 25 years, and also entirely new: It includes a meticulously re-creation of John and Caroline Schnieder’s 19th-century German saloon, once located at 97 Orchard, as well as a self-guided exploration of history using objects and touch-screen technology.... Read More →

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.

Honoring a Small Bus Station for its Big Contribution to Civil Rights

Posted on: December 12th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Erica Stewart, Manager, Public Affairs


National Trust Trustee Sheffield Hale speaks to the Montgomery Bus Station/Freedom Riders Museum partners. Montgomery mayor Todd Strange (fourth from right) attended the celebration.

Last week, 57 years after Rosa Parks helped ignite the Montgomery bus boycott, National Trust Trustee Dr. Sheffield Hale of the Atlanta History Center traveled to the Alabama capital to help celebrate the preservation of a modest Greyhound bus station that made history and the creation of the Freedom Rides Museum that tells its story.... Read More →

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.

 


825 Washington in the Emily Kimbrough District.

In many ways, the picture of Muncie, Ind., is the picture of communities throughout the Rust Belt Midwest: a former boomtown chock full turn-of-the-century architecture largely neglected after suburban flight and the loss of manufacturing. But the sheer number of architecturally significant buildings, and the local university project to raise awareness for them, is what sets this city of roughly 70,000 apart.... Read More →

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.

David Robert Weible

David Robert Weible

David Robert Weible is an assistant editor at Preservation magazine. He came to DC from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

From Main Street: Will Lifestyle Centers Replace Downtown?

Posted on: November 19th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

This blog post was adapted and edited for length from an article on the National Trust Main Street Center. Read the original piece here by Michael Stumpf, consultant and principal of Place Dynamics LLC.

Lifestyle centers -- a new open-air retail format smaller than a regional mall and often unanchored by traditional department stores -- are developers' response to a changing retail landscape. These centers cater to the specialty retailers, restaurants, and service chains that continue to add new store locations. The open-air format, design and amenities, and concentration of entertainment uses seek to create a more exciting environment to attract customers.

Interestingly, developers of lifestyle centers looked to traditional downtowns as an inspiration in creating the new format. For example:

  • Buildings are often made to look like multiple storefronts that have evolved over time.
  • Shops open directly to the sidewalk. Cars have even been introduced into the center with streets and parking.
  • The center will usually have entertainment uses, such as theaters and fitness centers. Residential or office uses may also be incorporated into the mix.

The format also gives mall operators an advantage over traditional downtowns in that, as private property, they are able to better regulate many of the issues that present challenges for downtown programs, such as:

  • Location. A lifestyle center, as a new creation, can be located in the best place relative to population and transportation networks.
  • New design. Designed from scratch, it can also create a pattern of uses, circulation, common spaces, and parking that addresses the desires of tenants and customers alike.
  • Ownership. Owning the properties allows operators to approve or disapprove of potential tenants, determine where they can locate in the center, regulate facades and signs, and establish policies for hours of operation.
  • Available resources. Tenant fees, paid by all, go toward providing security, maintaining common areas, and promoting the center, without the need for a member-based organization or business improvement district.


Historic downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin.

But do lifestyle centers really succeed in recreating the experience of a true downtown? While there are some very good examples of lifestyle malls as “new town centers,” the majority fall short in their design, more closely resembling the open air malls that were built until enclosed malls became the norm in the 1960s.

Even the best of the centers, though, still miss the mark in a few key areas. Despite their design appeal, lifestyle malls are filled with the same shops selling the same merchandise and the same restaurants with the same food as every other mall in America. Although safe and clean, they may also appear a bit sterile.

A close look at the buildings reveals them to be large structures with tacked-on facades, rather than individual structures with their own history. In fact, it is history that is missing from the picture. A true downtown has a patina, a unique feel, a randomness that can’t be duplicated.

Downtowns will not compete by trying to be like lifestyle centers, even though there are lessons to be learned from their design and management practices. Instead, downtowns will succeed based on their ability to differentiate themselves from the homogeneous aspects of these malls. They will build on their history, promote their unique shops and restaurants, incorporate residential and employment uses, provide flexibility in design, and celebrate the quirks, scars, and oddities that have appeared over time.

All of these characteristics tell a story that can be compelling, if the district tells it well. These things have an emotional appeal. People will talk of loving their downtown. How many people love the mall?

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.