Adaptive Reuse


Since its inception, Silman has participated in thousands of adaptive reuse projects. We have participated in the conversions of industrial buildings to schools, office buildings to residential structures, historic houses to museums. These projects promote sustainable and environmentally responsible design, a principle our firm both excels in and promotes.

Adaptive reuse projects draw on all of our firm’s expertise. Preservation skills, design of sophisticated reinforcing systems, use of high-tech materials, sustainable design and even the most basic analysis skills available to us are employed to produce an integration of the existing structure with the proposed new use. Many times, the reuse question hinges on whether or not the existing structure is capable of carrying the newly imposed occupancy loads. Therefore, an accurate feasibility study is necessary early in the design process to assess the structure. If the structure is occupied at the time of a study, or not accessible, we may employ the use of non-destructive evaluation techniques to determine the structural characteristics of the building. If the structure is accessible, probes can be made to determine these characteristics.

Once the characteristics of the existing structure have been determined, our analytical process begins. Using high-speed computers, we are able to arrive at conclusions with speed, thoroughness, and accuracy. We temper the straight mathematical results with our experience on the actual behavioral characteristics of historic materials and building systems.

Our experience in doing this has allowed us to advise an owner quickly on the reuse proposal and to prepare preliminary designs that can establish an early budget. This is important to the viability of the project, particularly when the purchase of a building hinges on its potential for future use. If the project is to move ahead, we then can prepare a tight set of contract documents.