Posted by: hick0188 | February 8, 2012

what’s the point…

As I prepare to present my project on Friday, I’m reflecting on the relevance of the overall scope of the problem.  In an attempt to clarify for others, and myself I’m going to hash out the basic crux of my position.

Currently there are a large number of buildings that sit vacant after living beyond there original intent.  Historically buildings of this nature would have been demolished and sent to the landfill.  This laissez-faire attitude towards buildings and waste is what needs to be addressed in our abandoned building stock.  Buildings contain a huge amount of embodied energy and to simply dispose of them is an irresponsible means of dealing with a changing need.  To rectify this trend, it is important to explore other options of use for these types of buildings.  By evaluating the structure and basic form and layout of a building, you can begin to think of alternative uses for the space.

In order to appropriately place new uses in a space, a close examination of future programming is necessary.  New program must be flexible enough to fit into the space literally and more importantly fit into the local context.  Land use and building use is pivotal in reprogramming a building.

In the school building I am working with, there is a general layout consisting of double loaded corridors.  The typical construction involves 60’ wide wings with some larger volume spaces that previously functioned as gymnasiums, a stage, cafeteria, and a cafeteria.  Previous classrooms are numerous and offer a flexible space for similarly proportioned spaces.  The elementary school is currently located in a low-density residential neighborhood.  This is of great importance as it limits the scale and use of future programs.  A close look at what can appropriately be added to a residential neighborhood will be taken to ensure cohesion with current neighbors.

In thinking of the community of Mahtomedi and some of its current needs, certain programs have been considered to be included in the reuse of the Wildwood Elementary School.  Through a series of site and community wide studies, three program areas have been selected.


Based on a need for additional community space, a senior center and recreational facilities, I will be working to combine these ideas to create a facility that can serve multiple purposes.  A critical aspect of this combination is fitting into the context of the neighborhood without destroying the fabric in which already exists.  Additionally, the site is currently linked to certain systems, such as parks and trails, which will be enhanced in ensuing designs.

There are minor obstacles inherent with the building, which were the cause for the initial abandoning of the facility.  Currently there are some water issues, which is understandable considering the site’s proximity to White Bear Lake and the level of the water table.  Although this creates challenges, I hope to find solutions to these issues in order to effectively repurpose this building.

To effectively understand the process of repurposing a structure, I will need to seek out precedents where this has already happened.  There are many examples of repurposing buildings, but I’m hoping to find relevant information about the specific programs that will be a part of this building.  Additionally, I will be looking at precedents based on recreational facilities and sustainable practices involved with their design and construction.

Oops, I accidently through out 500+ words in ‘hashing out’ my ideas, sorry.


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