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Adaptive reuse can mean a lot of different things, from reinventing an old school building to repurposing shipping containers as homes. At its core, the concept is about repurposing an old building into something new.
But adaptive reuse differs from renovation in one important way: Not only are buildings transformed, but this second life is drastically different in purpose from the first. Factories are converted into offices, warehouses into shopping markets. And in famous examples like the High Line, old, dilapidated railroads became linear parks that spark a newly revitalized neighborhood.
Adaptive reuse allows cities to take a second look at old spaces, especially those that are abandoned or located along struggling, industrial waterfronts. It can also be a key way to preserve historic spaces and reduce urban sprawl; why build a new office space or hotel in the suburbs when you could breathe new life into an old structure?
To see how different spaces are being repurposed in cities across the U.S., we’ve rounded up nine creative adaptive reuse projects. While in no way comprehensive, this list shows the diversity and architectural possibilities that come from repurposing things like old factories, wharfs, and power plants in new ways.