Group Title: An Adaptive use study for Wilson's Department Store, 22 East University Avenue, Gainesville, Florida
Title: Adaptive use : a survey of construction costs
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 Material Information
Title: Adaptive use : a survey of construction costs
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Mills, Jerry W.
Publisher: Jerry W. Mills
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Copyright Date: 1976
Subject: Historic preservation
Architecture -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Architecture -- Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00099616
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text


Special Issue
Advisory Council
On Historic Preservation
1522 K Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
JUNE 1976
Volume IV, Number 4


Adaptive Use:

A Survey of Construction Costs

The concept of historic preservation has gained broad popular support
over the last decade, but, in a society oriented toward profit-making,
the conservation of historic buildings cannot have the far reaching
acceptance envisioned by its supporters unless it can be made econom-
ically feasible. To have the greatest impact, the reuse of historic
buildings must be accepted and adopted by those responsible for shaping
human settlements -- the architects, planners, city officials, real
estate developers, and investment bankers. Various proposals designed
to make preservation profitable have been suggested in the form of tax
incentives, easements, the transfer of development rights, and funding
assistance programs for historic properties, to name just a few.
Generally, such efforts have been directed at providing public support
or subsidy for preservation actions. However, one of the most successful
solutions to date has been to work within the existing framework of the
commercial real estate market and adapt vacant or underused buildings of
historical or architectural value to fit the needs of contemporary
tenants. Made marketable, these recycled buildings stay on the tax
rolls and return a profit to their owners, frequently at a better rate
than new construction.


The Council is an independent unit of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government charged by the Act of
October 15, 1966 to advise the President and Congress in the field of Historic Preservation.

The reuse or adaptive use of old buildings does not usually imply detailed
restoration of the building's original appearance, although, in some cases,
it may. More commonly, the practice is renovation or rehabilitation of the
structure for a use other than that for which it was first designed.
Regardless of how the project is carried out, the objective is the same --
to retain as much of the architectural integrity of the interior and
exterior as possible, while conforming space to current needs and intro-
ducing modern mechanical systems to provide contemporary levels of
comfort, convenience and safety for the new tenants.

Obviously, this is not a new idea; people have been "modernizing" buildings
for centuries, whenever the architectural fashion changed, and "adapting"
them to better serve new or added requirements of family or business.
However, it has been only during approximately the last ten years that
adaptive use has again become a real competitor to new construction,
encouraged to a great extent by the success of the conversion of Ghiradelli
Square in San Francisco. Once an obsolete and vacant chocolate factory,
Ghiradelli Square blossomed into a lively and successful shopping complex
and one of the most frequently cited adaptive use projects in the United
States. With the growing concern for the natural environment in the late
1960's and early 1970's, the idea of recycling buildings took on new
significance, applying the conservationist attitude to the man-made
environment as well. But perhaps the single most important factor to
further the cause was the change in the state of the economy in the mid-
1970's. As fuel and material costs skyrocketed faster than labor costs,
new construction, being oriented to intensive use of new materials, and
heavy machinery, became prohibitively expensive for many.

Building permits were difficult to obtain in areas previously ripe for
intensive development. When construction was undertaken, building supplies
were not only very costly, but often slow to arrive. Rising costs of
demolition also discouraged land clearance activities. Environmental
concerns and "no growth" attitudes led to other obstacles such as suburban
sewer moratoria. The energy crisis and the related economic situation
encouraged many people to think about some of the long-overlooked benefits
of urban living.

About the same time, planners and city officials began to acknowledge the
failure of many of the grandiose schemes of urban renewal and slum clearance
programs of the 1950's and 60's, and started studying alternative ways to
deal with the problem. It was recognized that rehabilitation instead of
demolition of sound but decayed structures offered a more economically
and socially less disruptive means of renewing cities. Planners and city
officials were coming full circle and joining with the environmentalists
and the inhabitants of the neighborhoods that were originally slated for
destruction to come up with new ideas such as neighborhood conservation
and urban homesteading. By the mid-seventies, it became evident that
conservation of the built environment had become a basic tenet of many
community development programs.

By the mid-seventies, social policy, consumer tastes, and economics were
beginning to come together in a way that made many businessmen consider
recycled buildings as a viable alternative to meeting their space needs.
Compared with new construction, adaptive use offers many plusses. Not
only do recycling projects generally require less capital to start and
take less time to complete, meaning less money tied up for a shorter
period before rents start coming in, but they are by nature labor inten-
sive projects, relying less on expensive heavy machinery and costly struc-
tural materials. Beyond the benefit to the developer, these factors
produce social benefits by conserving resources and employing propor-
tionately greater numbers of workers, consistent with national policies.
This has been duly noted by the General Services Administration in
endorsing proposed legislation that would establish a preference for the
use of recycled buildings of historical or architectural significance for
Federal office space. In doing so, they noted that adaptive use projects
employ more laborers per structure than comparable new construction projects.

There are abvious benefits to reusing existent buildings, beyond pure
costs and broader social values. Older buildings are frequently better
built, with craftsmanship and materials that cannot be duplicated in
today's market. Late nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings
were constructed with care and lavish decoration, seldom possible in
contemporary buildings. These structures have thicker walls, windows
that open, higher ceilings, and other amenities not found in new buildings.
Also, these buildings were designed to use natural light and ventilation,
often being natural energy savers. In sum, old buildings provide more
interesting and varied environments for people to live, work, shop and

Adaptive use of historic buildings is finally being accepted by the
broader world of government agencies, national professional organiza-
tions, city officials and lending institutions. An example of this
occurred in the late 1960's by the movement of artists and sculptors into
unused warehouses in Soho, New York City's Cast Iron District in lower
Manhattan. These large spaces above ground floor loading platforms
provided excellent and inexpensive studio spaces for artists. Unfortun-
ately, certain zoning restrictions technically barred this activity.
The city authorities, after applying rather ineffective punitive
measures, finally accepted the situation, and changed the laws. Others
began to move to this area and it became a lively neighborhood, complete
with shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Eventually, through the
interest generated by the residents, and architectural historians, the
area was designated an historic district. What had been a neglected and
dismal part of the city is now a revitalized neighborhood and an asset
to the broader community.

In the Federal government sector, a number of recent programs and legis-
lative enactments reflect the awareness of adaptive use as a desirable
national policy. While the policy pronouncements of the National

Historic Preservation Act and Executive O 1593, "Protection and
Enhancement of the Cultural Environment," acknowledge Ue desirability
of making historic buildings serve a sound contemporary use, the first
program specifically directed at adaptive use did not originate until
1972. By an amendment to the surplus property transfer laws, the
General Services Administration was authorized to transfer surplus
Federal properties of historic value to State and local public bodies
for revenue-producing activities, as long as the historic or architec-
tural features of the building were maintained.

In 1974, the Housing and Community Development Act administered by the
Department of Housing and Urban Development, authorized funde f at
the discretion of the individual community may be nued fr- variety
urban programs including neighborhood conservation historigpreser-
vation and rehabilitation. Many communities have taken their grants to
fund wholesale neighborhood rehabilitation programs, often including
significant adaptive use programs. Also in 1974, the Amtrak Improve-
men t ,n-thorized demons ratios and planning funds for the adaptive
use of significant railroad stations.

The National Endowment for the Arts is one of the Federal agencies most
active in the encouragement of innovative neighborhood conservation and
adaptive use projects. In response to a 1972 White House directive to
the National Endowment for the Arts to review Federal architecture
guidelines, the Endowment created a Federal Architecture Task Force.
Significantly, one of the Task Force recommendations was that "Federal
agencies should give priority consideration to adapting existing
buildings for Federal use, particularly structures of architectural
or historic significance." Also, as part of this review, an excellent
special report was prepared, Federal Architecture: Adaptive-Use
Facilities. This report clearly presents adaptive use as a new oppor-
tunity to improve and conserve the urban environment through original
reuse concepts and, as such, gives a positive indication of what can
be done by and with the assistance of the Federal government.

A variety of Federal programs lend themselves to the support of adaptive
use efforts. In 1974, the Advisory Council published "Federal Programs
fo sssakeln --&scribing-
for Assistance in the Adaptive Use of Railroad Stations," describing
sources of assistance that may be used for a variety of adaptive use
efforts. Copies of this report are available from the Council on

While governmental recognition of and support for adaptive use is
encouraging, the real test is in the marketplace. If recycled buildings
cannot compete for tenants with new construction, only public (or private)
subsidy remains to finance the high cost of building operation and

maintenance. Fortunately, a well-conceived adaptive use project now
can stand on equal footing with new buildings. Businessmen and bankers
are realizing this and the results are impressive. In fact, the April
1976 issue of Preservation News was devoted to examples of banks,
factories, office buildings, even railroads and entire towns being
restored and recycled through the efforts of private corporations and

While not unusual in Europe, it is refreshing to see American businesses
* working with communities to help conserve neighborhoods and significant
urban landmarks. In 1976, a firm requiring additional office space is
as likely to think about moving into a recycled warehouse or railroad
station as to invest in a steel and glass structure that has just been
erected. Increasingly, developers and lenders are willing to invest
money into an adaptive reuse project such as recycling an abandoned
hotel or former piano factory into contemporary apartments. Experience
has shown there will be no difficulty in renting such apartments to
tenants eager to live in the center of the city in a soundly constructed
older building, with high ceilings, and unique architectural features,
where each living unit is distinct from its neighbor.

This burgeoning interest of the business community was a determining
factor in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's decision to
sponsor a conference on the "Economic Benefits of Preserving Old
Buildings" in Seattle during the summer of 1975. Co-sponsored by the
City of Seattle and the Historic Seattle Preservation and Development
Authority, and endorsed by the American Institute of Architects, the
American Institute of Planners, the National Association of Home
Builders, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment
Officials, and the Urban Land Institute, the conference was planned
to appeal to those groups outside the established preservation community,
with the intent of proving the soundness of financial investment in
recycling old buildings. While no one would argue that renovation of
an existent structure is always less expensive than new construction,
it was concluded by Mrs. John W. R. Crawford, a developer of Larimer
Square, penver's adaptive shopping complex conversion, that the cost
of renovation is usually one-third to one-quarter less than the cost
of new construction "and the quality of the projects is frequently

However, as Mrs. Crawford also noted, it is the actual statistics of
such costs that are necessary to have if the bankers, city officials,
and other decisionmakers are to be convinced of the real validity and
marketability of adaptive use projects. The Advisory Council hoped to
shed some light on this issue by providing cost figures for selected
adaptive use projects and the comparative costs of new construction.
The survey itself is prefaced by an explanation of the methodolcgy
employed, and followed by an analysis of the survey results. The
projects studied are described more fully in the appendix, and further
supported by a selective adaptive use bibliography.

The Survey: Methodology

The survey was undertaken in an attempt to provide factual data on the
costs involved in a selected group of adaptive use projects in the
United States, carried out within recent years, and how they compare
with new construction of the same general type. Although a great deal
of statistical information is available on new construction costs, this
same material is not readily accessible for adaptive use construction
work. Thus, the objective was to provide a comparison without under-
taking an extensive and lengthy research project.

In the initial phase of the study, it was decided to survey a broad
range of architectural firms known to have completed adaptive use
projects in various parts of the United States. Accordingly, a survey
form was prepared, and distributed to approximately thirty architec-
tural firms, requesting information on fifty reuse projects supervised
by these firms. A copy of the survey form is appended.

In devising the format, projects costs were categorized as follows:

1. Land and Building Acquisition

2. Building Construction (Hard Costs)

a. Demolition
b. Architectural
c. Structural
d. Mechanical

3. Miscellaneous (Soft Costs)

a. Architectural Fees
b. Legal Fees
c. Financing Costs
d. Developer and Real Estate Fees

Both new construction and adaptive use projects involve all three cate-
gories of the above costs. Because land and building acquisition costs
vary more from project to project than by class (new vs. reuse), compari-
son of these costs was determined to be least significant and, therefore,
not pursued. Similarly, the miscellaneous costs -- architectural and
legal fees, financing costs, and developer and real estate fees -- were
found not to vary on the basis of whether the project was new construc-
tion or adaptive use. Therefore, these "soft costs" were not included
in the survey. Thus, the survey was limited to collecting data concerning
Category 2, the building construction costs, or "hard costs."

These "hard costs" were explained to the architects surveyed as being
made up of the following four types of construction work:

1. Demolition includes structural demolition, removal of
unwanted partitions, mechanical equipment of electrical

2. Architectural includes construction of all new partitions,
wall and floor finishes, installation of elevators, exterior
wall treatments and roofing (movable furniture excluded);

3. Structural includes reinforcement of foundations, floors,
walls, and roof supports;

4. Mechanical includes installation of all electrical equip-
ment, lighting, heating, air conditioning, plumbing,
kitchen equipment, or fire protection equipment as

To further clarify the costs per square foot in each of the above categories,
the data form asked that the architect indicate the degree of work required
in the project in each of the above categories as being minimal, normal, or
substantial, to be based on the architect's past experience on other construc-
tion projects.

In order to qualify for this survey, projects were required to satisfy these

1. The project must have been completed, and the cost figures given
must represent all construction costs after total completion.

2. The adaptive use project must have involved construction largely
within the shell of an existing building. Projects that involved
construction of new additions to existing buildings were not
surveyed. This assured that the costs would reflect adaptive
use construction, not new construction.

3. The projects submitted must be included in a national
publication, easily available for those seeking additional
information on them.

Twenty-two architects responded to the questionnaire by providing infor-
mation on thirty-six adaptive reuse projects. Under the criteria estab-
lished, thirty-one of these projects qualified and were subsequently
incorporated into the survey. Upon receipt of the data forms by the
Advisory Council, all the costs submitted by the architects were updated
to reflect costs for January, 1976, using cost indexes prepared by Dodge
Building Cost Services, McGraw-Hill Information Services Company. The

projects were divided into five building types: office, retail, apartment,
museum, and theater. Inserted in each list of adaptive use project costs
are the costs for average new construction for similar building types
based on a national average (1975 Dodge Construction Systems Costs).

Regarding this "average new construction cost," it must be emphasized
that it does not mean this is necessarily comparable or equal construction.
Average new construction is frequently typified by eight foot ceilings,
painted gypsum board walls, acoustic tile ceilings, windows that do not
open, standard space arrangements, and minimal detailing. Any new
construction project which would come close to approaching the level of
amenities and comfort provided by many old buildings might be as high
as three times this average cost indicated. Thus, average new construc-
tion costs are inserted only to give context for the costs 66r the
adaptive use projects and do not reflect the actual cost of providing
space of similar visual quality and finish.

Also, on each cost data summary sheet are cost figures from the Robert
Snow Means, Company, Inc., which publishes annually the Building
Construction Cost Data, including data from over 7,500 building projects
nationwide. Included in this survey are three cost figures from the
Means book: the lowest per square foot cost for a building in a partic-
ular category; the median cost for all buildings in the category; and the
cost for the most expensive building in the category. There are, therefore,
five cost data summary sheets immediately following for each of the five
building categories. Attached to each are brief descriptive sketches
containing supplementary information on each project. These sketches are
listed alphabetically within each building type.

All costs are based on January, 1976 indexes and are shown in dollars.
The degree of work required in each category is defined as: (M) =
Minimal; (N) = Normal; and (S) = Substantial. These letters will
accompany each cost figure. Where data was not supplied by the
architect, the space has been left blank.

Building Type: Apartment
(Cost Per Square Foot)

Demo- Archi- Struc- Mechan-
lition tectural tural ical Total

Means Lowest 9.40

Chickering Piano Factory M N M N 11.87
225,000 sf

Means Median 21.11

Dodge Average 11.64 3.72 7.71 23.07

The Cast Iron Building S S S S 30.83
96,000 sf

Means Highest 96.66

Chickering Piano Factory, Boston

This masonry factory building was built in 1853 and included 220,000
square feet. No longer used for piano fabrication and $280,000 in
arrears in property taxes, the owners undertook an adaptive use project
to transform the space into 90 percent residential and 10 percent studio
space for the sum of $2.4 million. The project was completed in
December of 1974 by the architectural firm of Gelardin/Brunner/Cott, Jnc.,
of Cambridge. It is currently 95 percent occupied by the Piano Craft
Guild, an artists group which offered design suggestions during the
building's redevelopment, and now administers a screening process for
prospective tenants. (House and Home, February, 1975, p. 69-73.)

The Cast Iron Building, New York City

The McCreary department store was built in 1868 according to designs
of New York's famous 19th century architect, John Kellum. The original
building included 96,000 square feet, with a Renaissance facade of
modillions, corner piers, a myriad of arches and Corinthian columns,
all of cast iron. Damaged by fire in 1971, preservationists collab-
orated with the developer to find a feasible way to reuse the building
economically. This adaptive use project, by the architectural firm of
Stephen B. Jacobs and Associates of New York, includes 15 percent
retail and 85 percent residential space, totally 107,923 square feet.
The project was completed in June of 1974 for the sum of $3.2 million
and is currently 100 percent occupied. (Project Reference File,
Vol. 5, No. 7, April-June, 1975, Washington: Urban Land Institute,
1975, and Cast Iron Architecture in New York, Margot Gayle, p. 162.)

Building Type: Museum
(Cost Per Square Foot)

Demo- Archi- Struc- Mechan- Total
lition tectural tural ical

Clinton House .75 S 6.75 N 2.75 S 2.25 N 12.50
30,000 sf

Means Lowest 15.98
(for new library)

San Francisco Museum of
Modern Art 65,000 sf 1.34 M 12.67 N 2.47 M 8.85 S 25.33

National Museum of
Design 55,000 sf S S N S 31.81

Means Median 41.53
(for new library)

Dodge Average 16.66 13.28 18.75 48.69
(for library)

Jefferson Market Library
21,866 sf 3.50 N 49.00 S 7.00 N 26.25 S 85.75

Means Highest 104.76
(for new library)

Clinton House, Ithaca, New York

The Clinton House, built between 1820 and 1832 in the classic revival
style, was one of the first grand hotels in upstate New York. Of
stuccoed brick construction, the design features six Ionic columns
supporting a massive pedimented portico, centering the 120 foot facade
which is capped with a ballustrade. The building is listed in the
National Register of Historic Places. O'Brien and Taube, Ithaca
architects, working with Historic Ithaca, Inc., created 30,000 square
feet of space to be used for a museum, offices and retail use. Volun-
teer help was used, thus lowering costs. The $370,000 cost was raised
from local contributions, various foundations, and the National Trust
for Historic Preservation. (Historic Preservation, January-March,
1975, p. 38.)

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco

Arthur Brown designed this steel frame building in 1934 to include
160,000 square feet. The renovation of 65,000 square feet of the

building included 20 percent office, 10 percent restaurant and
70 percent gallery space. The architectural firm of Robinson and
Mills of San Francisco undertook the project which was completed
in August of 1975 for the sum of $1.35 million. (Architectural
Record, January, 1972.)

National Museum of Design, New York City

This 1901 steel frame masonry building was the mansion of the
Carnegie family and was designed in the neo-Georgian style by the
firm of Bass, Cook, and Willard, and is now listed in the National
Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. The
adaptive use project transformed the 55,000 square foot building
into museum space for the sum of $1.75 million. The project was
completed by the architectural firm of Hardy, Holzman and Pfeiffer
Associates of New York in early 1976. (The New York Times, April 1,

Jefferson Market Library, New York City

In 1875, the firm of Withers and Vaux designed this masonry court-
house building in a striking Victorian Gothic style. Using.a
variety of building materials, it features a nine-story tower which
has long been a landmark of lower Manhattan. The architect, Giorgio
Cavaglieri of New York, adapted this National Register listed
building for use as the Greenwich Village branch of the New York
Public Library, which included 21,866 square feet, for the sum of
$1.05 million. The project was completed in 1967. (Progressive
Architecture, October, 1967, p. 175.)

Building Type: Office
(Cost Per Square Foot)

Demo- Archi- Struc- Mechan-
lition tectural tural ical Total

- Webster House
31,800 sf M M M M 3.74

Bank of Newburgh Building
3,900 sf .53 N 6.57 N 1.06 M 3.50 S 11.66

Means Lowest 12.10

China Basin Building
500,000 sf .62 M 7.80 N .62 M 7.94 S 16.98

Butler Square 500,000 sf .26 N 9.48 N 2.90 N 6.12 S 18.76

Grand Central Arcade
80,000 sf .73 N 14.16 N .44 N 4.77 N 20.10

Pioneer Building
88,550 sf M N N N 23.89

Dodge Average 13.47 6.67 9.48 29.62

Teknor Apex Company
25,000 sf M N M N 30.06

Baltimore City Hall
203,000 sf 3.75 S 15.75 S S 13.50 S 33.00

Old Boston City Hall
40,000 sf 1.99 S 15.18 S 2.64 S 13.20 S 33.00

Actors Theatre
42,125 sf .54 N 18.76 N 2.14 N 12.06 N 33.50

Means Median 35.48

Saturday Review Building
27,657 sf 18.83 6.12 11.88 36.83

21 Merchants Row
25,000 sf 3.96 19.80 6.60 6.60 36.96

One Winthrop Square
105,000 sf 3.39 S 24.86 S 2.26 N 10.17 S 40.68

Blackwell House
6,348 sf .57 M 21.13 S 2.26 N 19.55 S 43.51

Means Highest 101.52

Structural costs included in architectural.


Webster House, Boston

\.i This masonry residence was built in 1872 and designed by John
-? Sturgis. This home, which was in excellent condition, was adapted
to office space for the sum of $90,000. The architectural firm
of Childs Bertman Tseckares Associates completed the project in
late 1972. The building is 100 percent occupied with a citywide
average of 85 percent. (Bainbridge Bunting, Houses of Boston's
Backbay, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967.)

Bank of Newburgh Building, Ithaca, New York

This 1821 combination bank building and residence is thought to
have been designed by Luther Gere, and features graceful Greek
temple front with pediment and four pilasters. The wooden building,
an important component of the DeWitt National Register Historic
District, was adapted to office space by November of 1974 by the
firm of O'Brien and Taube, Architects of Ithaca for the sum of
$45,000. (Ithaca Journal, December 2, 1974, page 3.)

China Basin Building, San Francisco

This 1920's concrete building was originally a food storage facility
with 500,000 square feet. The building was adapted to include
520,000 square feet of office space. The project, costing $1.7
million, was completed in late 1973 by the architectural firm of
Robinson and Mills of San Francisco. It is currently 65 percent
occupied, compared to a citywide average of 85 percent.
(Architectural Record, December, 1975, p. 90.)

Butler Square, Minneapolis

Originally a warehouse, this 1906 building appears austere and
simple, an effect produced by the skillful handling of scale and
proportion by designer Harry Wild Jones. The nine-story red brick
facade originally enclosed 500,000 square feet of space. Half of
the masonry building was adapted to include 83 percent office,
16 percent retail, and 1 percent restaurant space. The project
was completed in December of 1974 for the sum of $3.84 million by
the architectural firm of Miller, Hanson, Westerbeck, Bell,
Architects, Inc. of Minneapolis. The building, listed in the
National Register of Historic Places, is currently 60 percent
occupied. (AIA Journal, April, 1976, p. 42.)

Grand Central Arcade, Seattle

In 1889 this masonry building was built to include 80,000 square
feet. The building, listed in the National Register as part of
the Pioneer Square Historic District, was adapted to include
58 percent office, 29 percent retail and 13 percent restaurant

space. The $1.28 million project was completed by December of 1973
by the architectural firm of Ralph D. Anderson of Seattle. The
building is currently 95 percent occupied which compares favorably
to the city average of 85 percent. (Progressive Architecture,
August, 1974, pp. 46-48.)

Pioneer Building, Seattle

Elmer Fisher designed this beautifully scaled masonry building in
1892 after fire badly destroyed most of Seattle's docks and business
district in 1889. The Pioneer became the prestige address for the
new Seattle, and is the centerpiece of the Pioneer Square Historic
District, listed in the National Register. The building, which
originally was a combination of office and retail space, was
renovated to include 71 percent office, 12 percent retail and
17 percent restaurant space. The $1.872 million project was
completed in January of 1975 by the architectural firm of
Ralph D. Anderson of Seattle. The building is currently 95 percent
occupied, compared with a citywide average of 85 percent. (Fortune,
May, 1975, p. 196.)

Teknor Apex Company Offices, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

This steel frame factory building was built about 1900 and included
20,000 square feet. The building was adapted to office space
totaling 25,000 square feet by the architectural firm of Warren
Platner Associates of New Haven, Connecticut. The project was
completed in late 1974. (Architectural Record, January, 1975,
pp. 111-115.)

Baltimore City Hall, Baltimore

This 1875 masonry building, designed by George Fredericks, is an
early example of French Renaissance Revival in this country. Of
bluestone, faced with cut marble, it features an imposing dome
flanked by three-story wings detailed with elaborate pilasters,
window keystones and semicircular archivaults, all capped by a
mansard roof with marble dormers. The renovation of this National
Register property cost $6.7 million and includes 203,000 square
feet of office space. The project, to be completed by October
of 1976, is being undertaken by the architectural firm of
Architectural Heritage-Baltimore Inc. and Meyers and D'Aleo of
Boston. (Architectural Record, March, 1975, p. 37.)

Old Boston City Hall, Boston

This 1865 masonry city hall was designed by the firm of Bridley
and Bryant in monumental Second Empire style, resembling the

Louvre in Paris. The building's 10,000 square feet of space was
adapted to include 80 percent office, 10 percent retail and 20
percent restaurant space with a total floor area of 40,000 square
feet. The $2.25 million restoration of this National Historic
Landmark was undertaken by the architectural firm of Anderson-
Notter of Boston and was completed in late 1972. The building is
97 percent occupied when the citywide average is only 85 percent.
(AIA Journal, April, 1976, pp. 38-39.)

Actors Theatre, Louisville Warehouse, Louisville, Kentucky

Gideon Shryock designed this brick and limestone bank building
in 1836 in the Greek Revival style, which features an interior
skylighted eliptical dome. Together with an adjacent masonry
warehouse of Italianate design, the buildings have become the
new home of the Actors Theatre of Louisville, offering 36,000
square feet of versatile space. The adaptive use project,
totaling 42,125 square feet, includes 65 percent office, 5 per-
cent retail, 5 percent restaurant and 25 percent assembly space.
The architectural firm of Harry Weese and Associates of Chicago
completed the project, listed as a National Historic Landmark,
in late 1972 for the sum of $1.035 million. (AIA Journal, August,
1974, p. 52.)

Saturday Review Building, San Francisco

This simple masonry building was built about 1910 for use as a
Chinese cigar factory. The building was adapted to 27,657 square
feet of office space by the architectural firm of Bull, Field,
Volkman, and Stockwell of San Francisco. The project was completed
in February of 1973 for the sum of $736,200. (Architectural Record,
August, 1973, pp. 99-100.)

21 Merchants Row, Boston

This historically significant masonry merchantile building included
25,000 square feet, and is in the heart of Boston's historic water-'
front. The architectural firm of Childs Bertman Tseckares Associates
of Boston adapted the building to include 80 percent office space
and 20 percent restaurant. The project was completed in July of
1972 for the sum of $725,000. The building is 100 percent occupied
compared with a city average of 85 percent.

One Winthrop Square, Boston

This stone merchantile building was built in 1873 and designed by
the firm of Fehmer and Emers6n in the elegant French Second Empire
style. Originally a quality apparel store, until 1972 it was home

of the Boston Record American newspaper. It originally had
100,000 square feet, but with its adaptation to 80 percent office
and 20 percent retail space, the floor area totaled 105,000 square
feet. The $3.6 million project was undertaken by the architectural
firm of Childs Bertman Tseckares Associates of Boston and was
completed in August of 1974. The building is 100 percent occupied
compared with a citywide average of 85 percent. (Economic Benefits
of Preserving Old Buildings, Washington: Preservation Press, The
National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1976, pp. 75-80.)

Blackwell House Restoration, Roosevelt Island, New York

This 1810 wood frame farm house includes 6,348 square feet. The
adaptive use project transformed the building into office space
for the sum of $244,000 and was completed in late 1973. The
architectural firm of Giorgio Cavaglieri of New York undertook
the restoration of this National Register property. (Preservation
and Building Codes, Washington: Preservation Press, The National
Trust for Historic Preservation, 1975, p. 16.)

Building Type: Retail
(Cost Per Square Foot)

Means Lowest

Trolley Square
566,280 sf

Means Median

Exeter Street Theater
37,000 sf

Park Square Court
120,000 sf

Dodge Average

The Garage
55,000 sf

6,017 sf

Credit Union

Design Research
20,000 sf

Means Highest



2.62 N

2.28 S

1.73 N




7.86 N


19.72 S

33.91 N




3.39 N


4.56 S

1.88 N



t I


7.86 S


6.85 S

11.99 N

19.63 S

Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

The masonry and concrete car barns were built by E.H. Harriman in
1908 for the Salt Lake City streetcar fleet. In their 314,620
square feet, several competing trolley lines were merged under one
roof. The adaptive use project included 9.2 percent office, 69.3
percent retail and 21.5 percent restaurant spaces for the sum of
$5.81 million and was completed in September of 1975. The
building is 75.4 percent occupied. The project was undertaken
by the architectural firm of Architects/Planners/Alliance of
Salt Lake City. (Project Reference File, Vol. 6, No. 3,
January-March, 1976, Washington: Urban Land Institute, 1976.)













Exeter Street Theater, Boston

The architectural firm of Hartwell and Richardson designed the
Romanesque style First Spiritualist Temple in 1885. Used as a
motion picture theatre since 1914, the building was adapted to
include 33 percent office, 33 percent restaurant and 33 percent
motion picture theatre space by the firm of Child Bertman Tseckares
Associates of Boston for the sum of $800,000. The project, part
of the Back Bay Historic District listed in the National Register,
will be completed in October of 1976.

Park Square Court, st. Paul, Minnesota

This wholesale warehouse was built in 1885 and designed by a
Mr. Stevens, to include 120,000 square feet. It features many
fine masonry details including large arches at the entrance.
The adaptive use project includes 50 percent office and 50 percent
retail space. It cost $1.25 million and was completed in late
1971 by the architectural firm of Bergstedt, Wahlberg, Bergquist
and Rohkohl of St. Paul. It is currently 75 percent occupied,
compared to an average for the city of 80 percent. (AIA Journal,
January, 1975, p. 35.)

The Garage, Cambridge, Massachusetts

This masonry and concrete building was built in 1870 with major
renovation in 1924 and includes 55,000 square feet. The adaptive
use project, by the architectural firm of Architectural Design
Development, Inc., of Cambridge, was completed in January of
1974. The new work included 82,000 square feet with 60 percent
retail, 40 percent restaurant and entertainment space for the
sum of $2.4 million. It is currently 80 percent occupied which
equals the occupancy rate for the city. (Architectural Record,
December, 1974, pp. 110-111.)

Southbridge Credit Union, Southbridge, Massachusetts

This wood frame home was built ca. 1867 and included 6,017 square
feet. The architectural firm of Bastille-Neiley of Boston adapted
the building to bank space for the sum of $161,600. The project
was completed in late 1975. (Preservation News, August, 1975, p.12.)

Design Research, Philadelphia

In 1896 the firm of Peabody and Stearns designed the steel frame
granite Van Renssalaer House on Rittenhouse Square. An eclectic
collection of Georgian details, the building was adapted for use
as a retail store to include 22,800 square feet by the firm of
Architectural Resources, Cambridge, for the sum of $1.2 million.
The project was completed in October of 1975. (Architectural
Record, July, 1975.)


Building Type: Theatre
(Cost Per Square Foot)

Demo- Archi- Struc- Mechan-
lition tectural tural ical Total

Means Lowest 12.15

Center Stage
90,000 sf S N S S 17.77

Simons Rock Art Center
10,500 sf M N S N 23.64

Means Median 31.38

New York Shakespeare
Festival 63,280 sf 1.38 N 18.35 S 4.14 N 15.87 S 39.74

Good Shepherd Chapel
15,830 sf .51 M 23.69 N 5.15 N 19.05 S 48.40

Dodge Average 22.55 8.35 18.01 48.91

Means Highest 68.96

Exeter Assembly Hall
10.,350 sf N N S S 136.40

The Center Stage, Baltimore

The Loyola College and High School Complex, classic revival structures,
was designed in 1856 by Thomas C. Kennedy. The structures, in the
heart of Baltimore's Mt. Vernon Square cultural complex, were donated
to Center Stage for use as a theatre. The 90,000 square foot buildings
were adapted for use as a theatre by the firm of James R. Grieves
Associates Inc., of Baltimore. The project was completed in December
of 1975 for the sum of $1.6 million. (Preservation News, March, 1976.)

Simons Rock Art Center, Great Barrington, Massachusetts

This wooden hay barn, built ca. 1900, included 10,500 square feet.
The building was adapted for use as an art complex/theatre by the
architectural firm of Hardy, Holzman and Pfeiffer Associates of
New York for the sum of $126,900. The project was completed in
1966. (Architectural Forumf January-February, 1967.)

New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theatre, New York City

This project involved three adjacent buildings constructed between
1854 and 1884 which demonstrate the evolution of 19th century
building technique from solid stone to light iron. The-exterior
style is Italianate; the interior features elaborate cornice moldings,
cast iron columns, and ornamented skylights. The masonry buildings
were adapted to include 10 percent office and 90 percent rehearsal
space for the sum of $1.82 million. The project was completed in
late 1971 by the architectural firm of Giorgio Cavaglieri of New
York. (Architectural Forum, March, 1971, p. 49.)

Good Shepherd Chapel, Roosevelt Island, New York

This 1889 masonry church was designed by Frederic Clark Withers of
brownstone Victorian Gothic trim to be reminiscent of an English
Parish church. The architect, Giorgio Cavaglieri of New York,
adapted the building, listed in the National Register, to be a
community center for the sum of $750,000. The project was
completed in late 1975. (Preservation and Building Codes,
Washington: Preservation Press, The National Trust for Historic
Preservation, 1975, p. 18.)

Exeter Assembly HalZ, Exeter, New Hampshire

This steel frame building was built in 1915 as the Assembly Hall
for Phillips Exeter Academy. The architectural firm of Hardy
Holzman and Pfeiffer Associates renovated the building which
includes 10,350 square feet for the sum of $900,000. The project
was completed in late 1971. (Progressive Architecture, December,
1970, p. 62.)

Results of the Survey

A number of general observations may be made on the survey data. The
data confirm that, although adaptive use is not always cheaper than new
construction, the cost of adaptive use falls within the range of new
construction costs. It would seem, then, that adaptive use stands as
an equally feasible alternative to new construction to meet the space
needs of a tenant. Actual cost differences for any given project are,
of course, going to vary with the amount of work needed to adapt a
particular building to the desired use. The survey results provide
some insight as to the relative cost of various components of that
adaptation work.

The survey indicates that demolition costs inside the buildings being
recycled are minimal, normally only one to four percent of the total
project cost. Structural costs are also low, normally varying from
about five to twelve percent of the total project cost, which is less
than half the average expenditure for new construction. This reflects
the fact that little structural work is normally required when re-using
an old building. Architectural costs vary above and below the average
for new construction. Generally, in projects where the maximum effort
was made to re-use the existing interior and exterior materials, the
costs are substantially below those for new construction. Conversely,
where decisions were made to substantially alter the existing fabric,
the costs rose.

Mechanical costs, like those for architectural, were both above and
below those for new construction. Again, where the costs were low,
normally complex climate control equipment and fire protection systems
were not installed. Where the costs were high, extensive fire protec-
tion equipment was necessary due to the non-fireproof nature of certain
old buildings. In addition, because many old buildings do not easily
lend themselves to the installation of the tremendous quantity of
ductwork and chases normally required with sophisticated mechanical
equipment, mechanical equipment will likely remain an expensive item
in adaptive use construction.

Since the survey shows that demolition and structural costs are minimal
and represent areas where considerable savings can be made, it appears
that the real determining factors of the overall cost of adaptive use
construction will be in the architectural and mechanical work. Through
ingenuity and inventiveness by the architect, the costs may be kept down.

These survey results support the opinion of Hugh Hardy, senior partner
of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, that the key to successful adaptive
use is an inventive matching up of the new plan to the existing building.


This view is shared by the architect of the Cast Iron Building in New
York City, who noted the challenge and opportunity of adaptive use:
"Ultimately, the main difference between rehabilitation and new
construction lies in the fact that the developer working with an
existing structure must be alert for both unexpected and unique

While the survey, as expected, did not show a uniform cost advantage
for every adaptive use project over new construction, it does reflect
the ability to provide varied and interesting space for reasonably
comparable cost. In this regard, the reader is strongly urged to
examine some of the published accounts of the various projects
surveyed here. Appreciation of the quality of the finished product
is essential to place the comparative cost figures in perspective.
Amenities provided by these recycled buildings frequently produce
sound economic benefits through higher occupancy rates and rents.
George Notter, a Boston architect with an extensive adaptive use
practice, summarizes the real economic aspects of adaptive use:
" ... more often than not, the total dollar expenditure for preserva-
tion, including the acquisition of the property involved, is about
the same as new construction. Thus the plus factor is achieved by
developing the potential assets into a final project of greater
amenity -- one having the right location, more space in either height
or volume, more area or more character, materials of special quality
or a potential for time savings in construction."

So far the focus has been on the benefits of adaptive use for the
developer and the occupant. It is important to consider adaptive use
projects in broader policy terms, in their contribution to the urban
framework. Two of the surveyed projects, a retail shopping center and
an apartment complex, are particularly representative of the positive
effects adaptive use projects can have on a community.

The Trolley Square project in Salt Lake City was completed for less
than nineteen dollars per square foot and has rewarded the occupants
with a rich array of interior visual and textural delights. The
character and ambiance achieved there is the current goal of many new
shopping center developments. Trolley Square is successful because it
combines stores, shops and restaurants which appeal not only to the
casual visitor, but also provide a market for regular visits by the
residents of the neighborhood, The mix of retail stores and shops is
an important ingredient to this popularity.

In addition to the services if offers to those who visit it, Trolley
Square has stimulated the rejuvenation of the surrounding neighborhood.
Typified by deteriorating housing stock, the area is now experiencing

revitalization with new people moving in and renovating houses throughout
the area. The benefits of this project to the neighborhood and city as
a whole extend well beyond those measurable in dollars and cents.

The second project is the Chickering Piano Factory in Boston, now an
apartment complex with 116 studio and one-bedroom units, 52 two-bedroon
units and six three-bedroom units. This formerly rundown factory
building is now providing highly desirable housing for nearly 300
renters and was adapted for less than twelve dollars per square foot.

Thus, an urban commercial/industrial site, which was thought to be
nonfunctional in today's city, has found new meaning through conversion
to a new use as a housing project. One is only too painfully aware of
the numerous obsolete commercial and industrial structures that, in
disuse and decay, currently exert a blighting influence on our cities.
Such creative reuse can have an obvious impact on the whole urban fabric.

The broader benefits to society from various adaptive use projects are
just beginning to be felt. Fortunately, as public awareness of the
inherent qualities of old buildings heightens, the costs for such
projects seem to be becoming increasingly competitive with new construc-
tion. The entire construction market, which formerly encouraged the
destruction of these buildings, is now responding to both public and
economic conditions demanding the retention, development and resulting
conservation of these valuable urban resources. Bruce Chapman, Secre-
tary of State for the State of Washington, says,

"Urban conservation, then, is one of government's legitimately
expanding fields of endeavor. The value of beautiful wilderness
parks and scenic rivers is vitiated if our daily environment is
one of cancerous schlock. The economic benefits of spectacular
corporate monuments likewise are diluted when the American
economy simply discards old buildings and neighborhoods and
then finds itself paying the enormous costs of resulting social
problems. Urban conservation is not just romantic indulgence
in nostalgia. It is a physical restatement of long hallowed
American values of frugality, good craftsmanship and community

Therefore, although adaptive use projects can be undertaken and cost less
than new construction, the real bonus comes at the conclusion of the
project. There is no comparison to a project which creatively re-uses
and adapts an old building, rich in decades of character and life, to a
new building of only average construction. Adaptive use projects not
only reward the investors and the occupants, but also the community by
being the primary ingredients of an urban conservation scheme. This
fresh new look at the urban fabric has the potential of redefining and
re-establishing the promise of America's cities.

Appendix A

Project Data

Project Name

Data on Original Structure
Date Building Built
Original Architect
Type of Construction: Masonry

Data on Adaptive-Use Project
Building Classification: 1/
Office %
Retail %
Restaurant %
Residential %

Original Use
Existing Floor Area s.f.
Steel Frame Concrete Other

Site Area s.f.
Gross Building Area 2/ s.f.
Floor Area Ratio 3/

Date Project Completed

Total 100 %
Building Construction Cost:
Type of Work Degree of Work Required-/
Minimal Normal Substantial

Demolition 6/
Architectural /
Structural 8/
Mechanical -/

Square Foot

$ /s.f.
Total $ /s.f.

Jan 1976 5/

$ /s.f.
$ /s.f.

Building Construction Cost
Site Improvement Cost
Total Construction Cost
(Excludes building and
land acquisition)



1. Was the choice to adapt an existing building the client's prerequisite?
Yes No or the architect's decision? Yes No
2. Were considerations other than the absolute cost of the project impor-
tant in the decision to adapt the existing building? Yes No
What were some of those other considerations?

What is the occupancy rate for the building? %
What is the current average occupancy rate in the same city? %
How do the rental rates compete with rates in recently constructed
buildings? Above Nearly Equal Below

For Additional Information See:
Publication Name

Date Page



How to Complete the Project Data Form

1. The item, Building Classification, is to indicate the occupancy or
usage of the building. If the project is solely office space, then enter
100% in the blank. If it is multiple-use, indicate the approximate
ratio of each use as a percentage of the total.

2. Gross Building Area includes new-found floor area.

3. Floor Area Ratio is the gross building area divided by net site area.

4. Under the item, Degree of Work Required, please indicate with a
check ( ) your answer based on past experience with adaptive-use
projects. For example, in the category of mechanical work, minimal
work would indicate that many of the existing systems were reused;
normal work required would indicate the degree of work commonly
encountered with adaptive-use projects; substantial work would
indicate that highly complex H.V.A.C. systems, fire protection
systems, and/or intrusion alarm systems were installed.

5. DO NOT complete information under January 1976 cost.

6. Demolition includes structural demolition and removal of mechanical,
heating/air conditioning or other useable equipment.

7. Architectural includes all partitions, wall and floor finishes,
elevators and exterior wall treatments. (Moveable furniture

8. Structural includes reinforcement in foundations, floor and wall
systems and roof support.

9. Mechanical includes installation of all electrical equipment,
lighting, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, kitchen equipment,
or fire,protection equipment as applicable.

If information which you give needs additional clarification or
definition, use the space provided under "Notes" for applicable


Selected Adaptive Use Bibliography

Architectural Heritage-Baltimore, Inc., Baltimore City Hall: A
Feasibility Study, Architectural Heritage-Baltimore, Inc.,

Boston Redevelopment Authority, Recycled Boston, Boston: February,

Boyd, John W., "The Trains Don't Stop Here Anymore," Museum News.
52:3, November, 1973, pp. 16-20.

Cantacuzino, Sherban, New Uses for Old Buildings, New York:
Watson-Guptill Publishers, 1975.

Cavaglieri, Giorgio, "Design in Adaptive Re-Use," Historic Preservation,
Vol. 26, No. 1, January, 1974, pp. 72-77.

Costonis, John L., Space Adrift, Saving Urban Landmarks Through The
Chicago Plan, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974.

Dean, Andrea 0., "Adaptive Use: Economic and Other Advantages",
AIA Journal, June, 1976, pp. 26-38.

Educational Facilities Laboratory and the National Endowment for the
Arts, The Arts in Found Places, New York: Educational Facilities
Laboratory, 1976.

Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, Reusing Railroad Stations,
New York: Educational Facilities Laboratory, 1974.

Harney, Andy Leon, "Adaptive Use: Saving Energy (And Money) As Well
As Historic Buildings", AIA Journal, August, 1974, pp. 49-54.

Hieronymus, Bill, "Firms Renovate Buildings: Eye on History, Energy
Crisis", Preservation News, 14:2, February, 1974, p. 12.

Hoyt, Charles, "Sitting Ducks: Examples of Endangered Species Which
Should and Could be Saved", Architectural Record, December, 1974,
pp. 132-4.

Ketchem, Morris, Jr., FAIA, "Recycling and Restoring Landmarks: An
Architectural Challenge and Opportunity", AIA Journal, September,
1975, pp. 31-39.

Kidney, Walter C., Working Places, The Adaptive Use of Industrial
Buildings, Pittsburg: Ober Park Associates, 1976.



McLaughlin, Herbert, "Commercial Renovation Proves Its Worth", Historic
Preservation, October-December, 1975, pp. 14-19.

Mull, Jane, "Buildings Can Be Recycled Too", Fortune, May, 1975,
pp. 192-200.

National Trust for Historic Preservation, Economic Benefits of Preserving
Old Buildings, Washington: The Preservation Press, 1976.

Preservation and Building Codes,
Washington: The Preservation Press, 1975.

"Recycling", Architecture Plus, 2:2 March/April, 1974, pp. 36-87.

"Rehabilitation And Re-Use", Architectural Record, August, 1975,
pp. 67-82.

Robinson, Michael J., "Urban Rehab: $10.50 a Square Foot", House &
Home, February, 1975, pp. 68-73.

Shopsin, William C., AIA, Adapting Old Buildings to New Uses, New York:
New York State Council on Architecture, 1974.

"Six Architect's Offices in Recycled Buildings", AIA Journal, January,
1975, pp. 35-38.

"The Tax Advantages in Restoring Buildings", Business Week, August 18,
1975, pp. 91-2.

Uhlman, Wes, "Preserving Pioneer Square in Seattle", H.U.D. Chailange,
June, 1973.

Ware, Merrill, Federal Architecture: Adaptive-Use Facilities, Washington,
D.C.: The Federal Architecture Project, National Endowment for the
Arts, May, 1975.

I 1

This study was prepared by Baird Smith,
an architect, under the supervision of
the Office of Intergovernmental Programs
and Planning of the Advisory Council.
The project originated as a research
paper for the Graduate Program in
Historic Preservation at The George
Washington University, Washington, D.C.

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