Forum Connect

Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

  • 1.  Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-04-2018 11:59
    Hello All,
    I am approaching my capstone project for a MA at SCAD, studying a former natural gas and diesel burning electricity generating station in San Francisco. I've got good access to the site and  local background information.

    I'm looking for examples of power station reuse and resources on industrial heritage in general. In particular, The dichotomy between public distaste for hydrocarbon plants (the surrounding community worked for years to close the plant for health and pollution concerns) and request for public access as part of the development is very interesting. A site-wide interpretive program seems to be a way to reconcile public perceptions.

    Any links to industrial heritage sites and information about historic power plants would be useful.


    Susan McComb, AIA, LEED BD+C
    San Francisco CA

  • 2.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-04-2018 15:39
    @Caitlin Meives can give you info on a hydroelectric facility in Rochester, NY.

    ​I'd recommend looking at the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, specifically Carrie Furnace and comparing their heritage interpretation to Sloss Furnace. They both tell a specific story of iron/steel history... in very different ways.

    Sarah Marsom
    Heritage Resource Consultant
    Tiny Activist Project

  • 3.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-05-2018 12:27

    I think one of the most fascinating specific example of creating "public" access to a former industrial site is the redevelopment of the Bethlehem Steel industrial land in Bethlehem, PA, into a casino, mall, and arts center. The stacks themselves are primarily a backdrop for concerts, but what a backdrop!

    The Society for Industrial Archeology would be an excellent resource as well, as they work specifically with the interpretation and preservation of industrial sites.

    Finally, piggybacking on Sarah's recommendation, you may find additional examples of industrial reuse among the other National Heritage Areas, especially those in the Northeast.  Many of them were set up in large part to tell the story of a region's industrial heritage and encourage revitalization in the process.  I'm thinking specifically of Northwest PA's Oil Region NHA, West Virginia's National Coal Heritage Area, and Northeast PA's Lackawanna Heritage Valley, each of which deal directly with their respective hydrocarbon-producing past.

    Jeremy Ebersole
    M.S. candidate, University of Oregon
    Co-Vice President, Society for Commercial Archeology
    Portland, OR

  • 4.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-10-2018 14:44
    Thank you for the reference. The video documentary are particularity useful as are the National register documents. The reference drew my attention to the region of industry-and how important it is to view the site in a the larger context-as part of an historic supply chain.

    Susan McComb
    San Francisco CA

  • 5.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-05-2018 09:27


    I would highly recommend The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH) to you in terms of industrial heritage conservation.





    NEW YORK, NY 10004

    T. 212.941.1838 EXT. 212

    F. 212.941.1834




  • 6.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-06-2018 07:53

  • 7.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-05-2018 09:54
    Hi Susan,
    We have an example of a redevelopment of a former hydro-plant in Austin, the Seaholm Power Plant: Seaholm Power Plant Redevelopment | Economic Development | - The Official Website of the City of Austin

    If you have any interest in a comparative look at another country, Historic Environment Scotland has done a lot of research and studies on industrial heritage.

    Anna Nau
    PhD Candidate in Architecture & Historic Preservation
    The University of Texas at Austin

  • 8.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-05-2018 11:36



    Great project  The first thing with power plants and their rehab that always jumps up for me is Heritage Harbor in Providence, RI. This failed project had loads of issues but a fantastic power plant. You can find more online, but the company that did some of the master planning still has some of the information: (I was part of the attempt at the American Diner Museum at the time this was going on.) The project folded and they turned the financial remains into a foundation.


    Just up the road from where we are is the Hard Rock Café  and Barnes and Noble in the old power station in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. This old plant was for the trolley lines and is known as the Pratt Street Power Plant. I especially enjoy the large stacks and how they have reused them. The Cordish Company did the renovation. (I dislike their use of the word Live! all the time...)


    The other one I now is the Beloit College powerhouse. The video of the interior makes an industrial historian's heart skip a beat. I haven't been there, but I had someone who told me about it and it looks amazing.


    If we are willing to step away from power plants, Beth Steel's former plant in Bethlehem PA (or the Carrie Furnace as Sarah mentioned in Pittsburgh) is a great look at how this sort of interpretation works. This is a Smithsonian affiliated site.


    In a broader sense, have you talked with Michigan Technical University's industrial heritage program? It's the only one in the US and is really the leader in the thinking about issues like this. On their website is a great list of some publications.


    The topic of how heritage and health are connected are reaching new levels of attention. I know the professors at UMD are looking at this issue, but many others are as well. I can't be of too much help there since it hasn't been something I've tuned into as well as I should.


    Finally, your thought about a site wide interpretive program probably generates more questions than answers. Are you working on proposing a plan or just looking for HOW to do such a program? One thought is to look at this project from the perspectives of the High Line; Rails to Trails programs; or the Gas Works Park in Seattle. These sites are places where the bad parts have been turned into good things – healthy places from unhealthy places, places of music from places of noise, places of clean air from places of dirty air. 


    Good luck!



    Aaron Marcavitch, Executive Director

    Maryland Milestones/ATHA Inc.


  • 9.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-12-2018 23:28
    Thanks indeed for the direction-lots to follow up on. Especially the tip about the Beloit College Powerhouse. I like how they featured the control panel in the video, especially the "Trouble" button. I have a control panel too-albeit from the 1960's-the graphics and layout are priceless and I'm trying to figure out how to feature it. The downside is that some of the most interesting things to see really in my powerstation don't lend themselves to public access-up ladders, down narrow stairs or tucked into dark corners. It's going to take a while to figure out an interpretive tack.

    Susan McComb
    San Francisco CA

  • 10.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-13-2018 13:26
    What a fun problem to have. Is the issue that you want to showcase ladders/stairs or that you have space you want to feature but they aren't easy to access? Ease of access points to the need to an interpretive signage plan for the building. "Located above you in a hidden space is XXX. See this picture" type of thing. Might be worth creating a map key to go on the signs so that folks understand where they are in the structure if it were operating.


    Aaron Marcavitch
    Maryland Milestones/ATHA Inc.
    Hyattsville MD

  • 11.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-05-2018 15:50
    You might try:  and Society for Industrial Archeology:
    Sia-web remove preview
    Society for Industrial Archeology:
    Society for Industrial Archeology Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295 906-487-1889 Copyright © 2018 Society for Industrial Archeology. This site is hosted by Michigan Technological University.
    View this on Sia-web >

    both associated with Michigan Tech U.

    Patrick Hudson
    Kalamazoo MI

  • 12.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-06-2018 10:12
    I'll second, or third, looking at Rivers of Steel, Bethlehem, and Sloss - though these are all specifically iron/steel furnaces. To add an international perspective, you might also look at Fundidora Park in Mexico.

    As well, Gas Works Park in Seattle might share similarities with your project

    Charles Lawrence
    Architectural Conservator / Preservation Planner
    Lord Aeck Sargent
    Atlanta GA
    Chair, Board of Directors
    Historic Atlanta, Inc.

  • 13.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-11-2018 10:49
    Hi Susan,

    Several excellent examples have already been suggested, but no one has mentioned the granddaddy of all reused power stations: the Tate Modern in London in the old Bankside Power Station. Maybe it was just obvious!

    On a smaller scale, Gesa Power House Theatre in Walla Walla, WA is a pretty interesting project.

    Also, the Bolender Center, home of the Kansas City Ballet, is a really astounding reuse project which won an honor award from the National Trust back in 2012.

    Would love to hear what you end up looking into/researching. I also wrote about industrial architecture for my masters thesis.

    Jennifer Mortensen
    Tacoma WA

  • 14.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-11-2018 11:54
    Exciting stuff!  Definitely get your hands on a copy of The Works: The Industrial Architecture of the United States by Betsy Hunter Bradley.  Industry, Architecture and Engineering: American Ingenuity 1750-1950 is also a good go-to reference.

    I did my masters thesis on the adaptive reuse of a former hydroelectric power plant in Richmond, Virginia; there are some other decent examples there including the former Lucky Strike Power Plant:


    Mike Yengling
    Architectural Historian
    San Diego CA

  • 15.  RE: Industrial Heritage: Rehab of Power Station Site

    Posted 09-14-2018 14:37
    A small adapative reuse -- Coralville, Iowa, generating station converted to restaurant use:

    Jennifer Irsfeld James
    Historic Preservation Consultant