Theses Master's

Beyond Aesthetics: Evaluating Social Outcomes of Adaptive Reuse

Fricke, Allison

Both architects and preservationists seek to achieve social benefits through their work in the built environment. The architecture and preservation fields intersect when carrying out work on the existing or historic built environment, in which listing at any level of government indicates a historic, architectural, or cultural significance to the public. Design interventions in the existing built environment, therefore, offer a common ground for the paradigms of architecture and preservation practice—and implied social benefit agendas—that each field brings to the existing built environment. Adaptive reuse, for instance, offers a robust point of intersection of architect and preservation practices with the existing built environment. Work on existing buildings accounts for almost half of architecture billings. Since 2011, renovation, retrofitting, and adaptive reuse of existing buildings has comprised almost half of all architecture firm billings. Specifically, it has hovered between 43% and 45% of architecture work, according to a 2019 AIA report.18 The prevalence in practice and the particular mix of architectural practice, historic preservation practice, intended and claimed social outcomes, and the built environment, makes adaptive reuse a useful vehicle for exploring the impacts of social outcomes on the built environment. The process of adaptive reuse involves not only physical transformation, but programmatic transformation. Architects are tasked with solving that problem of transformation, while navigating the functional needs and the treatment of the historic building or site. The critical role of the architect is one of agency in framing projects and educating clients.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Avrami, Erica C.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 10, 2020