Recycled architecture

“I need an oil change and two tickets to Macbeth, please”

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:

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I love the trend of “recycled architecture”:  reusing and repurposing existing buildings.  I admire the creative minds that think up new uses for structures originally designed to be something else.  Turning old churches, barns, or industrial lofts into homes and condos, and converting railway stations or homes into restaurants are common examples of this, but there are lots of others.

photo of Pattaya Thai Restaurant, Penfield, NY, an example of recycled architectureFor example, a run-of-the-mill branch bank building in a neighboring suburb has been turned into a Thai restaurant. The first time I visited, it felt a little odd to be eating my Pad Thai near the location of the old bank vault. But the space has been beautifully adapted.

Another great local example of recycled architecture is SPoT Coffee, a popular coffee shop located in a classic Art Deco Chevy dealership. I can remember eyeing that location many years ago and thinking it would make a great bar or dance club — guess I was ahead of my time.photo of Spot Coffee in Rochester, NY, another great example of recycled architecture

photo of the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, now recycled as a museumIn Rochester, NY, where I live, we are blessed with many large, stately 19th- and early 20th-century mansions, remnants of Eastman Kodak‘s heyday, along beautiful East Avenue. Many of these old homes have now been converted into offices for doctors, lawyers, and professional associations, spas, and retreat centers. George Eastman’s home (photo above) is now the International Museum of Photography. Hard to believe that these were all once single-family homes!

Rochester really has some fascinating architecture, and the Monroe County Library has created a website chronicling a number of the adaptive reuse projects in the area which have helped preserve our beautiful and historic structures.

And now we get to the 3D modeling and rendering part of this post….

As a community theater afficionado, one of my favorite recycled architecture examples in the local area is the transformation of a sad, decidedly non-historic little building into a community theater rehearsal and performance space for Blackfriars Theatre.  The building most recently housed a used-car dealership, but looks like it might have started life as a gas station.  Here’s what the building originally looked like (image from Google Maps):

photo of a sad-looking building awaiting a new life as a community theater

In the initial stages of the conversion, I did a 3D model of the building and surrounding spaces for a client who was submitting a bid to do the landscaping for the project.  She proposed converting the corner section of the lot into a shared community space with a bench and plantings, and needed some quick graphics to illustrate her ideas. Rendering of a proposed landscape plan for the new Blackfriars Theater

Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, I don’t believe the developers hired her to do their landscaping.  But since I already had the building modeled, I decided to use it to do a little experimenting with lighting effects in a night rendering in Thea:

Photorealistic 3D Rendering of new Blackfriars Theatre at sunset

Since it’s not attractive, historic, or valuable in any way, this little building is exactly the kind of structure that, in the past, would most likely have been torn down to make room for new construction.  So I applaud the fact that these developers had enough creative vision — and a green enough conscience — to give it a new lease on life instead.

I’d love to hear about more examples of adaptive reuse.  What kinds of creative “recycled architecture” projects have you seen or participated in?


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One response to “Recycled architecture

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