Want to Stay Relevant in Architecture? Become an Adaptive Reuse or Renovation Expert

Out with the new, in with the old.

Pascal Hogue Pascal Hogue

Browse the Architizer Jobs Board and apply for architecture and design positions at some of the world's best firms. Click here to sign up for our Jobs Newsletter. 

Few architectural design processes begin with a blank slate. Rarely is a plot of land as flat and featureless as the sheets of paper used to plan it. This is especially the case in our post-industrial cities, where something likely already exists on that plot. Perhaps a Victorian redbrick or a shingled house that has seen better days? These buildings generally have a host of structural problems that can cause headaches for architects and engineers. And the easiest solution always seems to be to tear it all down and start anew.

But demolishing and starting from scratch is also a lost opportunity to rehabilitate the history and character of a place. By destroying the ‘outdated’ buildings that seem to cause us so many headaches, we are erasing the cultural heritage of our neighborhoods. While preservation projects can be prescriptive, adaptive reuse invites architects the flex their creative muscles by finding a way to express the evolution of a building and neighborhood. Almost paradoxically, renovation projects rely on innovative thought and cutting-edge technologies. Meanwhile, to paraphrase form AIA President Carl Elefante, “the greenest building is one already built”. Retrofitting existing structures is a conscionable alternative to the carbon-intensive nature of new construction.

The Westmount Building, by Dubbeldam Architecture + Design, took home the Popular Choice prize in the 10th Annual A+Awards. The firm transformed a century-old, three-storey brick building — a patchwork of decades-old neglect with mismatched bricks and randomly positioned windows — into a vibrant, urban-oriented community hub.

More and more, adaptive reuse projects are being undertaken by a diverse range of firms — often, these projects are topping awards lists that were once reserved for ground-up constructions. For all of these reasons and more, we are highlighting architecture firms on this week’s job’s board who are willing to give old buildings a second chance. Whether with refurbishing projects or meticulous renovations, these firms are proving that the old can be a fertile source for reinvention. Not all ‘new’ buildings need to be completely new. Sometimes incorporating or preserving elements of old buildings serves as a gift both to the past and to the present.

Tyler Engle Architects — who are currently hiring a Project Architect for their Seattle studio — are no strangers to providing old buildings with a new lease of life.

Freyer Collaborative, an architectural design firm in New York City, also has a diverse portfolio of renovations that stylishly incorporate pre-existing buildings into their high-end residential projects. They are currently looking to hire an Intern Architect.

MJA+A Architects are hiring for an architectural drafter for their offices in New York City. The firm focuses on renovations and restorations for commercial and residential projects both big and small.

Browse the Architizer Jobs Board and apply for architecture and design positions at some of the world's best firms. Click here to sign up for our Jobs Newsletter. 

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