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  • 1.  Refurbishment?

    Posted 05-14-2018 14:32
    Has anyone heard the terms "refurbishment" and/or "building recovery" used to describe rehabilitation or adaptive re-use projects? I have heard preservation called "heritage conservation" in the UK, but "refurbishment" was a new one to me. I am thinking it must be an international synonym, but I would love to hear the community's thoughts.

    This question comes the very popular, well-read and international web publication ArchDaily. They have a new award and partnership with Mini (car company) on the subject:  Refurbishment in Architecture
    ArchDaily remove preview
    Refurbishment in Architecture
    The best selection of adaptive reuse and refurbishment architecture projects across the world.
    View this on ArchDaily >

    Olivia Tarricone, AIA
    Preservation Architect
    National Trust for Historic Preservation
    Houston, TX Field Office

  • 2.  RE: Refurbishment?

    Posted 05-15-2018 14:58
    Until you mentioned it last week, it was new to me as well. I look forward to hearing from anyone who is familiar with it. Thanks for including the link to the ArchDaily piece.

    Mary Lu Seidel
    Field Director
    National Trust for Historic Preservation
    Chicago IL

  • 3.  RE: Refurbishment?

    Posted 05-16-2018 11:47
    I haven't come across refurbishment. In Canada we also use "conservation" as an umbrella term that encompasses the three approaches of preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration.

    Michael Philpott
    Heritage Officer (Preservation)
    Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
    St. John's, NL, Canada

  • 4.  RE: Refurbishment?

    Posted 05-16-2018 12:14

    The nomenclature for rehabilitation could definitely use more clarity, especially when referring to older, non-historic buildings which may not have historic or landmark status but are nonetheless viable and stable structures that have been abandoned or are simply vacant.  Having a broader discussion about whether financial incentives, such as federal or state tax credits, should apply to these types of structures is really needed in the preservation community at large.  Terms such as "refurbish" could be a bridge to talking more frankly about the grey area these structures occupy in the marketplace for developers and municipalities alike that are struggling with how to bring these properties back into service.  Perhaps "refurbish" belongs in the category of rehabilitation terms that relate to repurposing structures for another function but, then again, the Cambridge Dictionary defines refurbish as "to make a building look new again by doing work such as painting, repairing, and cleaning" which would imply more of a cosmetic effort.  Whatever term is agreed upon and used commonly in preservation, there really needs to be a sharp distinction between bringing a building up to code versus a full-on authentic historic rehabilitation, for example.



    Carl Wolf | Policy Analyst, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
    P. 202.588.6254  


    The Watergate Office Building

    2600 Virginia Avenue NW  Suite 1100  Washington, DC 20037



  • 5.  RE: Refurbishment?

    Posted 05-25-2018 12:17
    Here is an update with the winners of the award:
    Refurbishment in Architecture Award 2018
    Using the dictionary definition that Carl provided above for "refurbishment",  I would argue that none of the three awardees are truly refurbishment. The dictionary definition implies no change in use, and other definitions I have found imply that the word is more about updating than change.

    That being said, the 1st place awardee is an amazing transformation of a grain silo into a Museum of Contemporary African Art in South Africa by Heatherwick Studio. It is a heavy-handed change in structure (there is a sphere cut out of the middle of the building, and prismatic window openings added to upper levels), and obviously a very big change in use -- but the industrial character is maintained, in my opinion. (I adore this project for other reasons that are less relevant to preservation, and I will spare you all on this forum!)

    Link to grain silo project: Heatherwick Studio | Design & Architecture | Zeitz MOCAA

    But since we're all here: What do you all think about assessing this particular grain silo project with regard to the SOI Standards for Rehabilitation?

    Olivia Tarricone, AIA
    Preservation Architect
    National Trust for Historic Preservation
    Houston, TX Field Office

  • 6.  RE: Refurbishment?

    Posted 05-27-2018 18:20
    Judging from the pictures only, to me it is an outstanding piece of architecture. It does a good job of preserving the form and idea of a grain silo complex while creating contemporary spaces suitable for contemporary art. It is clear what stood on this site in this neighborhood in this city before a contemporary art museum was developed there.  That said, I would describe it as repurposing or adaptive reuse. I don't see how refurbishment applies, so evidently I am not familiar with the term in this context.
    As for SOI standards for rehabilitation, I think their emphasis on preserving the details of a building instead of the form of a building make them incompatible with the potential that adaptive reuse holds.  For example, i have seen many school buildings repurposed into rental housing for the elderly and disabled that have interiors that are dim and oppressive due to adherence to the standards. Preservation is important, but so is the experience of a new generation of users of a building that served a previous generation well.

    Jim Sparks
    Sparks Architecture
    Glasgow KY