Detail of Roof Architectural Features Above Main Entry

How To Adaptively Reuse a Community Asset

Mark Brandt and Julie Harris Heritage Magazine | Spring 2006

Be Strategic – Develop an Action Plan – Find Experienced Help


Communities faced with the challenge of saving a cherished heritage structure, especially  one that has no immediately available use and is threatened with neglect or demolition,  usually have little idea where to begin.

Be strategic. Good organization and strength in numbers are key elements to a successful  action plan. Enlist all stakeholders able to join the effort. Choose a lead proponent  (usually an organization), and appoint a champion, a person who can build consensus  and lead the fight.

Developing a strategic approach for adaptive reuse will depend on the variables unique  to each circumstance, but usually there are a number of universal strategies that can  be applied.

Begin by performing a detailed building audit. Follow up with critical repairs to secure  and stabilize the structure to prevent any further loss of heritage fabric and to maintain  the building throughout what will likely be a multi-year process of adaptive reuse.  Meanwhile, identify possible sources of funding for the preplanning stage.


Why is the site important to the community?

  • Document its importance through a statement of cultural heritage value.
  • Seek opinions from everyone who has an interest in the property or a view on its future.

What is most appealing about the property? …