reIMAGINE: Creating New Uses for Old Buildings

  • Date

    Wednesday, May 08 2024-Thursday, August 29 2024

  • Time

    Multi-day event.

Every building represents an investment of money, effort, and materials. A building’s owners, users, and even its neighbors therefore have a strong interest in its continued viability. That is why any structure that survives long enough is likely to undergo regular maintenance, occasional restoration, or possibly comprehensive renovation. 

Even so, some buildings inevitably become obsolete due to changes in business practices, technology, demographics, or other factors. Fortunately, many structures facing obsolescence can be converted to purposes other than the ones for which they were designed—a process known as adaptive reuse. Essentially a form of recycling at a large scale, adaptive reuse offers numerous potential advantages over new construction, including:

Environmental benefits

  • Conservation of natural resources
  • Energy savings 
  • Reduced construction waste

Economic benefits

  • Cost savings
  • Increased property values
  • Opportunities for emerging businesses

Social benefits

  • Preservation of cultural heritage
  • Community revitalization
  • Neighborhood diversification

Adaptive reuse is already a cornerstone of the design and building industry. According to the AIA Firm Survey Report 2022, renovations of existing buildings accounted for 46% of architecture firms’ billings in 2021. The global consulting firm Deloitte has estimated that upwards of 90% of real estate development may be focused on renovation and adaptive reuse in the near future.

This exhibition presents 19 buildings in the Washington area that architects have recently reimagined, bringing new life to structures that might otherwise have been doomed to disuse, decay, and ultimately the wrecking ball. 

Select Images

A building with a glass roof

Description automatically generated   A group of people working at computers in a large room

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400 4th Street, SW, which was built as a warehouse,                        Press House, a former printing plant adapted as offices by Torti Gallas   converted into the Washington Design Center, and                          Urban with Hickok Cole designing the interior for its own office

then renovated by SmithGroupJJR as the Museum                         Photo © Garrett Rowland           

of the Bible. Photo © Alan Karchmer

A building with trees and plants in front of it

Description automatically generated     A building with glass doors and a walkway

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Chapman Stables, a residential complex                                Park + Ford, a pair of former offices

adapted from a historic stable and garage by                        converted to residential use

Studio Twenty Seven Architecture. Photo ©                          Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS

Anice Hoachlander                                                                    Photo © Anice Hoachlander         





Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners 
DPR Construction 
David and Patricia Haresign

Gilbane Building Company

Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS 
Eric Colbert & Associates 
Hartman-Cox Architects
Hickok Cole 
Studio Twenty Seven Architects 
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company 
Anice Hoachlander/StudioHDP 
Judy Davis/StudioHDP

Jon Hensley Architects
KUBE architecture

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Mary Fitch, AICP, Hon. AIA, District Architecture Center 
CURATOR AND SCRIPT WRITER: G. Martin Moeller, Jr., Assoc. AIA, Independent Curator and Writer/Editor of ArchitectureDC 
EXHIBITION/GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Jennifer Byrne, Live.Create.Play. LLC®
EXHIBITION AND PROGRAMS COORDINATOR: Molly Ford, District Architecture Center

DAC thanks David Haresign, FAIA, of Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS, who originated the idea for this exhibition series. 


INSTALLATION: Cross Museum Services