Thursday, September 2, 2010

Adaptive Reuse

Did you read in the August 19th edition of the Southampton Press, that the demolition of the Hampton Road firehouse will cost $71,500!!!! Holy cow. We are spending $71,500 in order to make way for a green building. Does anyone else see the contradiction in that statement?

I'm okay with the new design for the firehouse except for the odd windows along the staircase that break some of the horizontal datum line features on the elevation. And I’m wary of all the green materials – that they’ll be too plastic looking. But I wish they had adaptively reused the existing structure instead of tearing it down to build something new.

There’s an old brick building on the northeast corner of North Sea Road and Prospect Street (pictured above) that has such wonderful character. It was built before 1902 and used to be one of the Suffolk Light, Heat & Power Co. locations. If you look closely, you can see the lintels in the brickwork identifying where the original doors and window openings were.

There’s another great building (not technically in the Village) on the southwest corner of County Road 39 and Magee Street (pictured above). It’s known as the Rosko Barn.

I often imagine both of these buildings wonderfully renovated and adaptively reused. They could be fire-stations, or an ambulance headquarters, or a grocery stores, or architect/construction company offices, or galleries, ………….Or how about a space for a year-round farmers market? Both properties seem to have ample parking area also. (The Rosko barn happens to be across the street from the proposed Tuckahoe Mall. Eek.)

Have you ever visited the company, Plain-T (interior photo above)? This is a local boutique tea company that imports the finest natural teas and then makes their own artisnal blends ( distributing them throughout the Hamptons. Anyway, they are located off of Powell Avenue, on the north side of the street, just east of Riverhead Building Supply. The area this business is in has a bunch of mechanical auto body shops. If you drive into the development, if you were to go straight, you would drive up a ramp and right into their showroom. This building used to be an ice warehouse (built before 1902), and Plain-T has turned it into a gleaming white and concrete floor gallery like space where they run their business, have tea tastings and host special events. This is a beautiful example of adaptive reuse!

Another great example is the Hamptons State Bank (pictured above) at the intersection of Windmill Lane and North Sea Road. It's a beautiful brick building that was built before 1909 which contained a carpenter's shop and cement storage. It was neglected for a number of years but has become a wonderful viable building today. Far nicer than anything new they could have built.

There are loads of possibilities for old structures in the village to be adaptively reused. Older buildings have great character unlike many of the newer commercial structures built today. I would rather see many of them reused than torn down, wouldn’t you?

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