How can contemporary architectural form, technology and structural systems
be integrated into existing industrial buildings to create a symbiotic hybrid of new
and old architecture? How can this implementation of new exploit and utilize the
existing beauty of the industrial language without taking away from its iconic status
and historical significance?
As industrial manufacturing gave way to a service-based economy, sprawling
factories and large warehouses were replaced with office buildings, condemning
these industrial structures, along with their surrounding areas to rust in a dilapidated
state. However, these structures remain important monuments to the economic
history and culture of the areas that they once served. In recent years, many of
them have been declared as “sites of historical significance”, in order to protect them
from demolition and create opportunity and purpose through new programming.
Rather than allowing a building sanctioned as “significant” to simply “exist”,
architecture has the opportunity to function as a catalyst to reinterpret and reuse
spaces in ways that would benefit the surrounding area and the community therein.
A neighborhood experiencing housing shortages has the potential to accommodate
more residents by repurposing an abandoned factory as loft space, just as a district
blighted by lack of cultural revenue might convert an unused warehouse into gallery
and restaurant space. By allotting new and relevant program to the unused spaces,
they should, along with the surrounding areas, experience economic and social
rehabilitation as people begin to inhabit the site once again.
In the past, there has been much debate about the advantages of adaptive
reuse over new construction in regards to practicality, functionality and cost.
However, currently, adding to or reusing existing structures is considered an
economic response to the issue of so many unoccupied buildings and the shrinking
availability of buildable land. And, whereas early adaptive reuse undertakings
focused on “filling the shell” of the existing structure with new program without much
architectural intervention, projects of this nature can offer a lot of creative freedom
for designers to create a visual attraction important to for the revitalization of a
It is the intention of this thesis to explore how contemporary architectural
elements (formal typologies, materials, technologies and construction methods) can
be integrated into an existing structure, blending the two languages and creating a
kind of “hybrid” building, in which both the new and the old systems work together
to create something interesting. The juxtaposition of “new” into/upon “old” will
emphasize the historical significance of the existing, celebrating the innate beauty of
the industrial architectural language, but also make a statement about the “here and
now” as well as the future.
Location: New Orleans, LA, US
My Role: Lead designer & researcher
Additional Credits: Cordula Roser-Gray- design advisor