In Hard Times It's Time For Renovation and Preservation
It's tough getting something built these days
Times are tough for architects. But there is a little ray of sunshine that gets a bit brighter in every recession: renovation and preservation. It may be a bit like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, who said " I am big, it's the pictures that got small." But in fact architecture is getting small. And if we are going to survive this recession and reduce the carbon footprints of our buildings, we are all going to have to get small and fix what we have. This could be a good thing for the profession and the environment. And as Sam Lubell says in his editorial in the Architects Newspaper,
Maybe it’s not as sexy as a shiny new building, but these are not shiny times.
Even if you are a brilliant architect, you can't always get what you want.
He continues, saying much the same thing as we do when we say that the greenest brick is the one already in the wall:
But perhaps the more valuable—and procurable—new opportunities for architects in today’s economic climate relate to reuse. With new construction at a standstill, people are going to have to make do with the spaces they already have. That doesn’t have to mean no architecture. The way is paved for renovation, preservation, adaptive reuse, infill development, and interiors projects. And that’s a good thing. The truism is worth repeating: The greenest architecture is building from what’s already there.
He then reminds us that there is money out there to do this stuff:
In the stimulus package, there’s a lot of money headed to reuse and retrofitting. And that includes $6 billion for the renovation and repair of federal buildings, plus other grants, loans, and incentives for energy retrofits and green housing investments. For renovation and preservation projects, about $28 billion of the stimulus is aimed at the modernization, renovation, and repair of schools, and $2 billion has been set aside to help communities purchase or rehabilitate foreclosed or vacant properties to create more affordable housing.
This is an opportunity. Every time one comes up, architects don't grab it and the engineers or other consultants come and take another slice out of the profession. Don't blow it this time. More in the Architects Newsletter
More on the greenest brick:
The Greenest Brick is the One That's Already in the Wall
GreenBuild: Richard Moe Has a Tough Row to Hoe
Diane Keaton on How We Treat Old Buildings Like Plastic Bags
Big Steps in Building: Ban Demolition