Tag Archives: adaptive reuse

Portland on the Park, Courtesy of DAVIS

Concentrated Culture: The symbiosis of new-build and adaptive reuse

There are undeniable truths in commercial real estate. For instance — retail follows rooftops. However, when the right variables come together, the presence of retail can create a demand for mixed-use communities.

This is a phenomenon Michelle Schwartz, associate at RSP Architects, has observed in her firm’s recent work.

“Arizona has such a short history when compared with the rest of the United States and as such, we have developed around a more vehicular centralized  society,” says Schwartz. “When we look at new communities — and the desire for connection in neighborhoods — creating mixed-use flexibility where residents can truly live-work-play is unique.”

The Row, Courtesy of RSP Architects

The Row, Courtesy of RSP Architects

RSP Architects has designed The Row in downtown Chandler, a 60KSF two-story mixed-use development in the city’s newly designated entertainment district. The project’s anchor is Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, an Austin, Texas-based dine-in theater expected to bring 700 people to downtown Chandler four times a day.

“Today’s retail focuses on experience, which is exactly what The Row will bring,” Schwartz says, adding that many restaurateurs’ interest in the area has been piqued by the project.

Another rooftop project that has sought out a vibrant area in which to incubate is Portland on the Park, a 14-story luxury condo development by Habitat Metro and Sunbelt Holdings, designed by DAVIS Architecture. This project, jokes Habitat’s Timothy Sprague, has a three-acre front yard and 32-acre backyard, referring to the Japanese Friendship Garden and Margaret T. Hance Park adjacent to the site.

“The big different between suburban and urban environments is we’re able to do our own placemaking,” says Sunbelt Holdings President and CEO John Graham. “It’s critical to be near meaningful open spaces and more interesting amenities.”

Sunbelt Holdings, largely known for its master planned communities throughout Arizona, is stepping off the golf courses and bringing its suburban sensibility to the urban environment of downtown Phoenix. The company’s 149-unit Portland on the Park is also being constructed near the evolving Roosevelt Arts District. The cultural developments of the parks and Roosevelt Row were “absolutely critical” to the identity of Portland on the Park, Graham says.

He’s been following the development of the area for almost five years, since his eldest son moved into Portland Place. Through his son, Graham says, he watched and learned to understand the dynamics of the area, which has evolved over the course of the project with light rail and the growth of ASU’s downtown campus.

Graham says he’s seeing similar trends in Chandler, Phoenix and Gilbert and he has his eyes on Mesa.

“I think there’s a direct correlation between Marina Heights and Portland on the Park, Tempe Town Lake and Margaret T. Hance Park,” Graham says. The urban energy and urban vibes they share, he says, “is because of ASU students and the really fun, cool gathering places like The Yard.”

The Yard in Tempe

The Yard in Tempe

The Yard on 7th Street and Camelback Road was the shot in the dark heard around the Valley.

A former motorcycle garage was turned into a multi-tenant restaurant space that shares a patio and yard area. The Fox Restaurant Concepts design has since been emulated in what is Sam Fox’s largest project to date, The Yard at Farmers Arts District.

“When The Yard opened, it opened everyone’ eyes,” says Dave Sellers, president of LGE Design Build.

“The first Yard was very much an exploratory mission to see how successful it’d be,” says Brian Frakes, who worked on the first Yard with WDP Partners, and the second Yard with Common Bond.

“The Tempe one was different because it was west of the rail,” explains Frakes. “It was a dense, urban area. State Farm hasn’t even opened up yet, but there were a lot of good things coming. One-thousand multifamily units around us, and we noticed a strong southeast Valley group at The Yard on 7th. We wanted to capture the southeast Valley (at the new Yard).”
There were a lot of State Farm and multifamily conversations in the planning stages of The Yard in Tempe, says Frakes.

Marina Heights

Marina Heights

“I think it’s the sum of all the parts that makes these places so dynamic and interesting. I think restaurant and retail is the big driver because employers are looking for that amenity base,” says Frakes.

Sellers announced plans for The Colony, a similar concept nearby the original Yard development. He is also working in downtown Gilbert’s Heritage District on The Marketplace, which houses a Fox concept restaurant, among others, and office space. Since Gilbert doesn’t have the same kind of old buildings as downtown Phoenix, LGE Design Build built Marketplace to look like something that had been there much longer than it had.
“It is risky,” Sellers says. “It’s not your cookie cutter retailer. It’s not a power center where you have a Walmart. It’s not that. You’re developing what the clientele and customer kind of like, hoping the retailers believe in it.”

Retailers acclimate, he adds.

“What’s neat is we have projects that are larger retail, national users trying to fit into a space that isn’t a typical space,” he says. To Graham’s point, Sellers says his company is looking to develop before big projects come through the pipeline.

Rivulon, for example, is a $750M mixed-use business park that broke ground in 2014 on Gilbert Road and the Loop 202 in Gilbert.

Gilbert’s Economic Development Director Dan Henderson sees a symbiotic relationship between developments such as Nationwide Realty Investors’ Rivulon project and the Heritage District.

Zinburger at Heritage Marketplace

Zinburger at Heritage Marketplace

“Candidly, you need both (types of development),” says Henderson. “You can’t have one without the other. These things work with each other and are in some ways the defining element of opposites attract. People will be attracted to both areas for different reasons.”
He refers to Heritage District as the “living room” of the community and Rivulon as the “family room” of Gilbert.

“What we’ve found in (Nationwide Realty Investors President) Brian Ellis and his team is a partner that is not looking at today, but at 20 years from now,” says Henderson. “It’s a similar partnership in the Heritage District.”

“The $64,000 question is: Is it a blip or shallow market?” Graham asks. “It’s not a blip. It’s a trend. The market is deeper than (people) think it is. A lot of people are thinking there’s a slowdown in master planned communities and that’s what’s driving apartment development, but it’s a modified business and trend that’s going to stay.”

“Three Birds” by contemporary artist Lauren Lee

Petitioners seek adaptive reuse of GreenHAUS boutique

Roosevelt Row is known as a hub for culture, food, and art, but plans for a new residential space could take away decade-old murals.

GreenHAUS owners Cole and Danya Reed closed their boutique at the end of last year and moved to Oregon in January to have more secure parental rights for the son they are expecting sometime in mid-March.

Since then, the fate of the local space has been uncertain.

Baron Properties received the deed to 222 E. Roosevelt last summer as well as the deed to the neighboring lot at 1002 N. 3rd St.

The City of Phoenix granted Baron a total demolition permit for both spaces Jan. 15, which expires March 15.

The argument of keeping 222 E. Roosevelt revolves around adaptive reuse, which is the idea of incorporating old buildings rather than demolishing them.

The building is home to decades worth of history. On the inside, murals by Ted DeGrazia that date back to 1950 decorate the interior. As for the outside, the mural “Three Birds” by contemporary artist Lauren Lee covers one side of the building.

Before the building was greenHAUS, it was home to 307 Lounge, which offered a place for the LGBT community of Phoenix to hangout.

Petitioners Pete Petrisko and Bob Diehl started a petition about two months ago on change.org when the preliminary site plans did not show the existing building anywhere in the plan.

Diehl said that the community did react when they heard about the fate of the building. Since December, more than 4,000 people have spoke out in one way or another, including 1,200 people who have signed the online petition.

Even if the building itself couldn’t be saved, efforts were being made to save the DeGrazia murals.

There are two murals inside the building, a 4 foot by 4 foot piece as well as another piece that stands about 6 feet tall.

The 4 foot by 4 foot piece is painted directly onto drywall. A Tucson Museum agreed to cut the piece from the drywall.

The other piece, however, was painted directly onto the plaster on the mason reconstruction of the original building. Diehl said that multiple experts have looked at the situation.

The experts reported that cutting into the plaster would atomize the mortar holding the bricks together. In turn, it would ruin significant portions of the painting. It would also cost more to do this than to move the entire building, which was one of the options.

There have been no moves to revise the plans for the new residential complex by Baron.

Adaptive reuse is a growing concept that aims to incorporate older buildings into a modern landscape.

“There has to be a different approach to the destruction of buildings that have survived fifty years and are still intact, at least in downtown Phoenix. They do make a difference in the sense of place, continuity, and the sense of a city being lived in, loved and hated,” Diehl said.

Centrica, Courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

Phoenix Rising Investments starts Centrica redevelopment in Mesa

Phoenix Rising Investments, LLC has begun redevelopment on Centrica, an up to 140KSF, class-A office building at 1550 W. Southern Ave.

The adaptive re-use project located near the US 60/Loop 101 interchange in the Southeast Valley will turn three former big-box retail stores into an ideal location for companies seeking modern office space that offers abundant parking (7:1000) and a direct fiber optic backbone connection.

“We are excited to break ground on Centrica,” said Mike Hsiung, Managing Member of Phoenix Rising Investments. “Centrica is one of the few office properties in all of Metro Phoenix with the ability to offer more than 100,000 square feet of contiguous space.

“With nearly 110,000 students within 10 minutes of Centrica and more than 3 million square feet of restaurant and retail amenities within walking distance, we believe Centrica is the ideal property for any company,” Hsiung said.

Handling the leasing assignment is the Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona team of Director Matt Coxhead and Associate Director Ryan Bartos. Willmeng Construction is the general contractor and Nelsen Partners is the architect.

With demolition already underway, ’s redevelopment includes the retail pads formerly occupied by Bed, Bad & Beyond; Toys ‘R Us; and Circuit City.

“This is such a unique project for the market,” Bartos said. “Twenty-three-foot-high exposed ceilings, wide open floor plate, and access to an outstanding talent base make Centrica a highly desirable location for users.”

Mesa officials said they have been hoping to revitalize the Fiesta District, and Centrica is one of a few catalyst projects that would create additional momentum for attracting high-tech companies to that part of the city. Already in place is an infrastructure that features high-speed fiber optics.

Other amenities:

>> Employers within close proximity such as Esurance, Boeing, Banner Health and SRP;

>> Mesa Community College, one of the nation’s largest community colleges with an enrollment exceeding 25,000 students, sits directly across Southern Avenue from Centrica;

>> More than 3 million square feet of restaurant and retail amenities within walking distance to Centrica;

>> Less than half a mile from the Loop 101 corridor, US 60 and Metro Phoenix;

>> Two bus stops within 50 feet of Centrica that serve seven bus lines and a new Metro light rail station currently under construction within one mile of Centrica.

“Mike and his team are great to work with,” Coxhead said. “They have a unique sense of design and are extremely creative. We are excited for the project to get started.”


Luhrs Building: Iconic building towers over important adaptive reuse project in downtown Phoenix

The Luhrs Endures

Nestled among the steel and glass high rises in downtown Phoenix, the Luhrs Building stands as a symbol of the iconic brick-and-mortar structures that once graced the inner city.

As the City of Phoenix embraces the concept of adaptive reuse, the Luhrs Building, constructed in 1924 at a cost of $553,000, is part of this trend to repurpose existing buildings with retail or office additions.

According to the City of Phoenix website, the number of adaptive reuse projects – renovating buildings and turning them into new spaces – has increased since it started its adaptive reuse program in 2008. There were 17 projects in the first year. That number jumped to 48 in 2013.

“Historic, unique buildings are excellent prospects for adaptive reuse,” says Summer Jackson, associate director with the retail services division at Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, the brokerage firm handling the retail leasing assignment for the Luhrs Building.

“Many restaurateurs are taking advantage of these spaces to create new concepts that cater to the demand in the area. It’s an opportunity to do something innovative – something different,” Jackson adds.

One such establishment that has taken advantage of the opportunity is the Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, 1 W. Jefferson. Owner Ross Simon says he was looking for a space with a great history and some genuine “wow factor.” A space, he says, that had a real city feel for a concept that would be at home in any major city around the world.

“Also something that could lend itself well to the cocktail-centric concept,” Simon adds.

Adaptive reuse is evident elsewhere around Phoenix. Some of the more notable examples include:
» Culinary Dropout at the Yard, a former motorcycle dealership built in the 1950s on 7th Street.
» Taco Guild at Old School O7, the former Bethel Methodist church on Osborn Road.
» Southern Rail and Changing Hands bookstore at the Newtown Phx, the former Beef Eaters restaurant built in 1961 on Camelback Road.
» Windsor and Churn, which share a restored 1940s building on Central Ave.

“Consumers are looking for an experience,” says Courtney Auther Van Loo, Associate Director with the Retail Services Division at Cushman & Wakefield. “While maintaining historical architecture styles and a building’s unique iconography, developers and tenants have created one-of-a-kind experiences and breathed new life into these landmarks. This style of reuse combines a contemporary feel with a touch of the classic.”

When he was selecting a site, Simon says he wasn’t necessarily looking for a space in an adaptive reuse project. “But after I revisited the space and thought about the layout a bit more to know it would work, I was sold on it,” he says.

Bitter & Twisted, as well as Subway sandwich shop have become retail tenants at the Luhrs Building. “I had a real idea of what I wanted the overall place to look and feel like from an operational standpoint and from a guest experience point of view,” says Simon, who adds that Bar Napkins Production worked on the initial layout and all the architectural plans. Southwest Architectural Builders was the general contractor.

As the light rail whizzes by the Luhrs Building on Jefferson, it’s evident a sense of “newness” is also being felt downtown. An $80 million, 19-story hotel – the 320-room Luhrs City Center Marriott – breaks ground later this year at the northwest corner of Madison Street and Central Avenue.

The project is being developed by the Hansji Corporation of Anaheim, Calif. It’s the same family-owned company that purchased the “Luhrs Block” in 2007. For the past 38 years, Hansji Corp. has developed more than 2MSF of office, retail and hotel space.


“It (the Luhrs Block, which also includes the Luhrs Tower) was really our first historical building,” says company President Rajan Hansji. “We knew it was something special. You can’t recreate this. It’s history. It gave me a new appreciation (for historical properties).”

Hansji says he is pleased with the outcome of Bitter & Twisted and its historical feel, including exposed original walls and beams.

“That corner is going to define the block,” Hansji says. “It (Bitter & Twisted) will be the catalyst for the rest of the block. It’s an amazing and unique space. The hotel’s exterior will utilize different brick colors and utilize the Luhrs’ history.”

The Enclave at 32nd

Watt Communities announces multifamily, in-fill projects

Watt Communities of Arizona has doubled its Phoenix project pipeline and brought its total local construction commitment to more than $21 million with the announcement of two new urban infill communities: The Enclave at 32nd Street and 16 Ocotillo. The move grows the company’s local presence and expands its product offerings to include single-family detached homes and urban townhomes in close-in suburban neighborhoods.

“We now have four flags on the map representing two concepts that we are extremely proud of and excited to bring to Phoenix,” said Steve Pritulsky, President and CEO of Watt Communities of Arizona. “They are all decidedly infill locations and will feature innovative indoor-outdoor living styles that today’s buyers are looking for.”

The Enclave at 32nd Street is located on 3.46 acres just south of the southwest corner of 32nd Street and Cactus Road, in the Paradise Valley Mall area of North Phoenix. The community is directly off of the 51/Piestewa Freeway and immediately north of the highly acclaimed Basis Charter School. It is also situated less than one mile from the Phoenix Mountain Preserve recreation area.

Scheduled to break ground in late 2014, The Enclave includes 31 two-story, single-family detached homes ranging from approximately 1,700 to 2,200 square feet. All homes deliver a welcoming front porch concept, creative side patios, builder-installed front yards and common area landscaping, walkable interior courtyards, and private rear-entry, two-car garages.

“This development is based on a private drive design developed by our partners in California, and is a unique concept here in Arizona,” said Paul Timm, COO of Watt Communities of Arizona. “Having just one point of entry for the community adds a level of privacy and allows residents to own a small oasis within a bustling urban corridor. It is innovative housing in and active location, but also peaceful.”



The second community, 16 Ocotillo, sits on 2.8 acres at the southwest corner of 16th Street and Ocotillo Road, between Maryland and Glendale avenues in North Central Phoenix. It is within walking distance to the area’s burgeoning 16th Street “Restaurant Row,” a Sprouts grocery store and diverse retail services. The community is being designed as a gated, single-family detached home community and is located near Piestewa Peak, which sits just one half mile away.

The Enclave at 32nd Street land acquisition closed escrow on May 13 for $1.275 million. Timm of Trust Realty Advisors represented the buyer, Watt New Leaf-Cactus LLC. John Werstler of CBRE represented the property seller, The Northern Trust Company as Trustee of the Edmund P Mell GST Trust. The 16 Ocotillo land acquisition closed escrow on May 8 for $1.6 million. The buyer was Watt New Leaf-16 Ocotillo LLC. Ray Cashen of Cashen Realty Advisors represented the property seller, The Estate of Mon Jame Lee and The Lee Living Trust.

In late 2013, Scottsdale-based New Leaf Communities and Watt Communities of Santa Monica, Calif. announced their joint venture (Watt Communities of Arizona) and entered the Phoenix market with two inaugural projects: Dorsey Lane, a 51-unit townhome project located in central Tempe (just south of the southwest corner of Broadway Road and Dorsey Lane), and Biltmore Living, a 40-unit townhome project located in the Camelback Corridor (less than a mile south of 24th Street and Camelback Road).

Those communities will provide contemporary, three-story urban townhomes ranging in size from 1,400 to 1,800 square feet. Amenities include gated entry, private two-car garages and common areas with a pool/ramada/sundeck, outdoor poolside kitchen and landscaped paseos.

“These are urban locations within established employment cores,” said Pritulsky. “They match the quality and vibrancy of their neighborhoods, and will allow residents to move from renting to owning without giving up their urban lifestyle.”


DOXA Redevelopment Project Receives LEED Gold Certification


With 17.8% of the total building materials content, by value, manufactured using recycled products, DOXA was pleased to accept the LEED Gold level certification this month for its newest Phoenix adaptive reuse development project.

Located at Buckeye Rd. and 16th St. and once home to the original Smitty’s Grocery store, the 60,000 SF refurbished building now houses the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ primary regional office.

An internationally recognized mark of excellence, LEED certification was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is verified and awarded by third party, Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

The designation provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Through the course of construction, DOXA diverted 96.64% of waste from landfills, using 11.97 percent of salvaged, refurbished or reused materials from the original building. The new building also utilized regional materials, totaling 33.1% of the total building materials, lowering the financial and environmental cost of delivery and stimulating the local economy.

In addition to sustainable construction methods, LEED certification emphasizes sensitivity to a building’s occupants. As such, DOXA has taken a number of measures to increase the health, safety and comfort level in the building, including the use of paint and interior materials low in Volatile Organic Compounds; heating and cooling systems free of dangerous chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) based refrigerants; and a redesigned building envelope which doubled the existing insulation.

The redevelopment also reduced potable water use by 54.6% through the installation of high efficiency water closets and urinals and low flow lavatory faucets.

“As landlord, our obligation was to obtain a LEED Silver Certification for the building,” said Dan Wilhelm, DOXA principle. “Achieving LEED Gold demonstrates our commitment to increasing measureable energy efficiency for this and all other DOXA buildings where the government is the tenant.”


Green Building - AZRE Magazine July/August 2010

Green Building Is A Smart Business Solution

Green building is inevitably a smart business solution.

When it comes to the bottom line, companies that want to be in the black — go green. As building owners, developers, brokers and designers, the industry is trying to re-define how they do business to stay in business, and it is vital that these efforts align with the paradigm toward green building.

Existing assets — empty buildings, existing properties with leases expiring, etc. — may be the most marketable commodity right now. Building owners should look at new ways to use this economic downturn as an opportunity, and not a road block. By incorporating four simple measures, owners and developers can reposition their real estate assets to be more marketable — a concept better known as real estate asset positioning (REAP).


Invest in sustainable strategies. A building that can call itself “green” is much more marketable than one that lacks environmentally conscious attributes. Leading organizations are demanding green designs, while employees increasingly view sustainability as a corporate responsibility. In fact, a Harris Poll found that 33 percent of Americans would be more inclined to work for a green company, than one that did not make a conscious effort to promote sustainable practices.

Daylighting, shading, varied glass types and occupancy sensors are just a few strategies that have demonstrated a quantifiable Return On Investment (ROI), and are proven to benefit occupant health and well-being. Furthermore, increased building value and elevated rents often have been cited as benefits of green buildings, according to Turner’s 2008 Green Building Market Barometer. Going “green” is a great way for building owners to leverage their assets for strategic market repositioning.


Incorporate measures to reduce consumption by investing in sustainable strategies that are efficient in their use of water, energy and other resources. Examples include using low-flow plumbing fixtures, high-efficiency lighting and air quality monitoring.
Out of 754 commercial real estate executives surveyed, Turner’s report found:

  • 84 percent of respondents cited lower energy costs in green buildings
  • 68 percent noted overall operating cost savings
  • 72 percent say green creates higher building values

Sundt Construction, currently in the process of realizing a lab building for an Arizona university, conducted energy consumption metrics showing the cost to provide occupancy sensors for a 294,000-square-foot building would be $15,598. The owner’s savings for the first year were estimated at $29,905 — a noticeably fast payback on an initial investment.

Building owners and some tenants also may receive tax deductions of up to $1.80 per square foot if they install energy-efficient interior lighting; upgrade the building envelope; and install heating, cooling, ventilation and/or hot water systems to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent, in comparison to meeting minimum ASHRAE 90.1 requirements.


Focus on looks and extras. When it comes to attracting the best tenants in today’s real estate market, there has never been a more prudent time to assess an existing building’s worth.

Upgrading and retrofitting 40-, 20- and even 10–year-old buildings during this economic downturn can result in significant cost savings, as the current market experiences up to a 30 percent drop in construction costs.

New lobbies and entries, updated restrooms and elevators will attract potential tenants and retain existing ones, who may be considering relocation. Providing additional amenities to elevate an existing building to Class A office space provides the competitive edge necessary to exist in the new, highly competitive marketplace.

In addition, envelope and exterior skin upgrades from Low-E insulated glazing units to new, longer lasting and maintenance-free, environmentally friendly materials will enhance the building’s appearance, as well as its internal support systems.

By incorporating aesthetic upgrades and modernizations to reposition assets, a building’s life can be extended well beyond its initial years.


Innovate. It’s easy to envision an existing historic structure retrofitted into a modern, trendy boutique hotel. However, it takes a creative mind to realize that a brand new, empty, speculative high-rise office building has that same potential.

The real estate is there — it’s a matter of incorporating flexibility into the process of assessing the market’s changing demand. Introducing a new function or use into an existing asset, based on what the market is saying, is a cost-effective way to extend the longevity of a building and exceed the ROI on existing real estate.

What better way to “go green” than to recycle and re-use an existing building?
As asset repositioning — or REAP — continues to catch on, the value of revitalizing existing buildings is becoming paramount to how the economy will affect the design and construction industry in Arizona for the next 10 to 20 years. Understanding the market demand and how it affects an existing asset is the first step. Secondly, developing an analysis of the property may be the most viable way to determine its future potential — whether it makes sense to update, retrofit or green-up, the possibilities are infinite.

This is not a new practice, just a smart one that will provide ongoing opportunity for those willing to take the plunge and invest in what already exists. Let’s REAP the benefits together!

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Martha Abbott is an architectural senior project manager for the Workplace Studio of SmithGroup’s Phoenix office, with 20 years of experience.



AZRE Magazine July/August 2010

Adaptive Reuse - AZRE Magazine July/August 2010

Waste Not Want Not – Successful, Sustainable Adaptive Reuse

Adaptive Reuse

In this economy, it isn’t surprising that everyone is looking to get more for less. Whether you are an owner, representative or a member of the commercial real estate industry, the importance of delivering value has never been greater. Naturally, clients are looking to reduce cost per square foot, but they are also searching for more value in that square footage by making their spaces more efficient and reducing energy costs. Adaptive reuse of an existing building can be a viable marriage of these philosophies, for companies and brokers alike.

According to the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2010 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report, projects of the future are trending toward “infill, urbanizing suburbs and transit-oriented development.” The populace is looking for convenience, shorter commutes and reduced energy expenses — at home, in their vehicles and in their businesses.


Tina Burger, a principal at Excel Commercial in Scottsdale, agrees with the report and points to the Scottsdale Airpark area as a good example of these trends, and how they can affect redevelopment and reuse. Burger is on the Scottsdale Airpark Advocacy Subcommittee, and assists both the Chamber and the City of Scottsdale with their General Plan on redevelopment. In the Scottsdale Airpark area, she says there is a vast amount of vacant, functionally obsolete space that could be sustainably adapted to accommodate a variety of tenants. The Advocacy Subcommittee is working toward a plan for the Airpark area that provides a roadmap for development.

Using an existing structure, as opposed to building new, is a sustainable solution. From an environmental vantage, there is an opportunity to reduce waste in construction and be more efficient with the space. This efficiency can be realized by utilizing sustainable design philosophies and innovative products.

Finding the Right Space

When exploring adaptive reuse, it is important to keep a few things in mind:

  • Appropriate space selection is vital to achieving success.
  • Warehouses and big box retail spaces can provide valuable flexibility, and accommodate a variety of functions and amenities.
  • Look for types of facilities that provide ample ceiling height and large floor plates.

From a design perspective, high ceilings allow for ease of installing and maintaining building systems by providing several feet of space above the ceiling. This extra space enables the mechanical ducts, plumbing lines and light systems to be stacked, instead of being packed into a more typical space of only about 18 to 20 inches. This allows for less expensive maintenance and increases the space’s flexibility.

Conversely, ceiling height may be an acoustical challenge for open work spaces, private offices or conference rooms in which noise will be a distraction. However, several design techniques are available to mitigate these issues. Interior designers and space planners work with individuals and firms to position heavily trafficked areas away from conference rooms and private offices. Individual work spaces can allay these issues by installing clouds, or lower hanging acoustical tiles, to reduce noise and increase privacy without compromising the collaboration that open-office plans seek to nurture.

Buildings that lend themselves to reuse:

  • Warehouses
  • Theaters
  • Cafeterias
  • Large retail centers

Property types with larger floor plates allow for greater flexibility, and the potential for a larger benefit from expert space planning. Work stations can be planned in the most beneficial and efficient layout for the client. Critical relationships between staff can be placed together in a neighborhood, while communal areas such as copy rooms, break rooms and restrooms can be centralized. These layouts reduce waste through unnecessary duplication of services, and allow for future office reconfigurations that do not require demolition.

Designing Spaces

When choosing to adapt a large space, it is important to create appropriate degrees of scale for the comfort of users. By designing and planning effective lighting, ceiling treatments, furnishings and color finish palette, these adapted spaces can provide creative, inviting, comfortable meeting and work spaces on an appropriate scale for large and/or small groups.

Lack of natural daylighting is an obstacle to overcome when adapting an existing space. Those concerned with energy efficiency and productivity understand the importance of natural daylight. To increase daylighting, additional windows, skylights or solar tubes can be installed. Solar tubes increase the amount of daylight that can be introduced deep into a structure’s interior. New technologies may also be incorporated into existing windows, to reflect light deeper into a space while avoiding glare. This technique’s effectiveness may be increased by incorporating a white ceiling during the conversion.

On the other hand, should the desired end result of adapting a structure be a computer training classroom, a worship center or a theater — the lack of natural daylighting available in a warehouse or large retail center may be a positive, money-saving advantage.

Another added benefit of big box retail and warehouse adaptation is the increased floor load capacity. This can provide for further flexibility, particularly for computer-intensive businesses, or the incorporation of amenities such as a fitness center or rock-climbing wall.

Green Spaces

Although some adaptive reuse spaces provide adequate electrical loads and HVAC capacity, it is not unusual to have to add additional capacity. This upgrade process is an ideal time to install equipment that will improve indoor air quality, increase electrical efficiency or add photovoltaic collectors. These steps can decrease energy expenses and, according to a response included in ULI’s report, will “’fetch a bigger price than comparable space without green features” when owners choose to sell. Choosing to have an adapted space certified by the U.S. Green Building Council is objective verification that the space stands apart, offering energy efficiency and heightened productivity.

Burger agrees, adding, “The biggest reason for an owner to upgrade their property is to preserve the asset’s value today and in the future.” Many energy-efficient upgrades have reasonable payback periods.

An organization’s culture also is a significant factor in choosing to adapt an existing building. A site might be chosen for its historical significance, location or prestige. Other institutions appreciate the anonymity that an adapted building can offer, while other owners may need a larger space and chose to reuse rather than rebuild.

There are many reasons to choose adaptive reuse and, if done wisely in partnership with a design professional, such a choice can be cost-effective, sustainable and successful.

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Article written for AZRE by H. Joshua Gould, AIA, LEED AP,  who is the chairman and CEO of RNL; and Carl Price, AIA, LEED AP, who is a principal at RNL. www.rnldesign.com



AZRE Magazine July/August 2010