Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



An active campaign must be waged to save many of the old buildings throughout the country. Not only are the bulldozers and wrecking balls tearing great holes in our past, but they are destroying an extremely valuable natural resource. In city after city, it has been clearly shown that without the efforts of concerned individuals the buildings come down. In recent years the record has become equally clear in regard to the benefits of reutilization. Throughout the country citizens are looking with pride and a sense of rekindled ties with their past at areas that were, but a short while ago, considered blighted. Many of these projects have become major tourist attractions. They are successful economically, both in terms of their impact on the community and as private ventures. Reutilization is not limited to buildings of major historical significance. Many buildings of marginal significance are solidly built and retain good economic potential for the future. In addition their link to the past helps give both spirit and a sense of place to a growing, thriving city. Instead of robbing the future to preserve the past, reutilization gives us the opportunity to use the richness of the past to finance the future. This thesis examines reutilization in several different lights. First, it is compared with two traditional solutions to the problem of abandoned buildings; the demolition and clearance techniques of urban renewal, and the attempts to create "house museums" from many old buildings. In the first case, reutilization has the advantage of preserving the building as an asset to the community, and in the second, it maintains the building as an economically productive element. Secondly, reutilization is examined in terms of its impact in three major areas. The psychological impact of the building's presence or absence is considered both in terms of the community and the individual. The environmental impact of reutilization is compared with that of new construction. Finally, the economic impact is discussed. Several examples from around the country are cited to illustrate these points. Next, the question of which buildings should be reutilized is considered. A criteria for determining whether any given project is feasible is established. This proposes that each case be investigated in terms of its structure, usefulness, location, availability, and history. Special emphasis is placed on the economics of reutilization. This is, perhaps, the most critical factor in the success or failure of any project. Comparisons between reutilization and new construction are discussed and some of the problems with commonly used methods are dealt with. Techniques for determining the value of commercial projects and for determining the expected rate of return are presented. The final section of the thesis is devoted to the examination of an actual attempt at reutilization. This concerns the efforts to prevent the demolition of the Ilfeld warehouse. The project is first examined in terms of the criteria established earlier in the thesis. A chronology of the project is then provided to demonstrate the actual workings of a reutilization attempt.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Michel Louis Roger Pillet

Second Committee Member

Bainbridge Bunting

Third Committee Member


Included in

Architecture Commons