Graphic Design & Adaptive Reuse


Hello, everyone! This is my first post on here, nice to meet you all. 

So my question is rather complicated, at least that's how it feels in my life. I am a senior level graphic designer who has always wanted to enter into the historic redevelopment/adaptive reuse field. In fact, before starting my career in graphic design, which I sort of just fell into, that is what I wanted to do, but wasn't quite sure how to do it. Sadly, not much has changed. 

I would love to renovate old buildings for modern day use. Owning my projects, though expensive, would be my end goal. I am drawn to the idea of buying something old and forgotten, then renovating it while maintaining historic and cultural integrity to become a focal point in the community. I am also interested in combining adaptive reuse projects with graphic design, in creating branded in environments. One of my favorite projects like this is the Gilmore Gas Station in LA which is now a Starbucks. I do have a little background in branded environmental design, with a small handful of branding projects I have lead, but nothing that ever really came to see the light of day. 

Is it worth going back to school and earning my degree in architecture and taking a more tradition route (school -> internships -> full time work -> licensure) or is it possible, with my background, to get into that realm without being a licensed architect? I am completely open to starting small, if school isn't the right route, and building my portfolio from there. BTW, I have been saving for my first project since I was 14 years old, half of my life. 

Thanks for your help! 

Jul 28, 20 9:19 pm

Why not stay in your current field but specialize in graphic design/ environmental design and branded environments for historic renovation and adaptive re-use projects? 

We usually hire a signage consultant and are always so happy when they are good at their work and passionate about it because then we give them more room to do their thing within the project.

Jul 28, 20 9:55 pm  · 

Studying the long route sounds excessive - have you thought about buying something and joining up with a firm/person who can do the permit drawings according to your designs?

Jul 29, 20 5:16 am  · 
1  · 

I would not advise going the architecture school route.  It is lengthy, and it is not necessarily going to give you the skills or education you are looking for.  If you are dead set on getting any further education, I'd look to see if there are any preservation courses or programs in your area.  Even if you do decide to go the owner/developer route, it will be good to have some education under your belt. 

If you have the money, go the owner/developer route. Buy a building. Research.  Hire a preservation architect, or at minimum an architect with experience in working with historic buildings, and see what you can do. (I'm in preservation and we do walk-throughs with potential buyers all the time.  They want to know if the building can be rehabilitated for their budget or a ballpark estimate for construction costs. It costs them the few hours of our time at most and we get a potential job.)  If you are creating space for lease, look into taking advantage of the federal and local tax credit programs through your state historic preservation office. 

Jul 29, 20 2:58 pm  · 

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