Connecticut Adaptive Reuse Architecture Specialists | Adaptive Reuse Architectural Designers

In architecture, Adaptive Reuse refers to the process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than which it was built or designed for. Adaptive Reuse is seen by many as a key factor in land conservation and the reduction of urban sprawl. However Adaptive Reuse can become controversial as there is sometimes a blurred line between renovation, facadism and adaptive reuse. It can be regarded as a compromise between historic preservation and demolition.

Imagine taking a derelict former automobile dealership and garage and transforming it into a striking and active performing arts center. That’s what Smith Edwards McCoy did for the University of Hartford in creating the Handel Center for the Performing Art, a 50,000 sq. ft. facility that includes two black box theaters, dance studios, musical practice rooms and faculty offices. This facility is now a beckon of light and activity on a former dark corner.

Our adaptive reuse work has continued to the present.  Or how about taking a former, abandoned firehouse and converting it into a light filled production studio and residence for the creator of the I Spy book series, or re-purposing mill buildings to apartments and office space, old schools to affordable housing, even early modern office buildings into a neighborhood health clinic. This is all work Smith Edwards McCoy does well and enjoys doing.

Re-purposing existing buildings, be they landmarks or structurally sound utilitarian buildings, has remained at the core of the practice of Smith Edwards McCoy since our inception in 1977.

We have a particular interest and skill in renovating and adapting former mill or industrial buildings so prevalent to New England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We see these magnificent structures, so solidly constructed with their stone or brick bearing walls and heavy timber framing, as our countries “architectural cathedrals”. These buildings, with their wonderful spaces, generous windows, high ceilings and appealing exposed brick walls and wood floors, can readily and successfully be adapted to a variety of contemporary uses.

In 1979, we completed Hartford’s first conversion of an abandoned factory into housing. The former Billings Forge factory complex was converted into 99 generous, high ceilinged, light-filled apartments of various sizes and configuration, along with supportive community and commercial space. Like so many other projects we undertook, we were able to help secure historic tax credits that helped make these projects attractive to developers and investors. Similarly, in 1984 we re-purposed more than 400,000 s.f. of space in three contiguous mill buildings into Class A office space for the then Aetna Life & Casualty Company. In 1994 we converted 13 industrial buildings concentrated in New Haven’s Ninth Square into 150 market rate apartments. For this effort we were co-recipients of the American Institute of Architects 1995 National Urban Design Award.