Repurposing a historic building is an admirable goal, but it will require a great deal of preparation in order to succeed. Otherwise, the project will consume an enormous amount of time, and the cost will quickly spiral out of control. By implementing the following steps, though, you can successfully breathe life into an old building and preserve its past glory for future generations to enjoy.
Review the Historical Significance of the Building
It is important to determine the building's historical significance as it relates to the local community. Typically, such a building will fall into one of four categories: historic landmark, building of historical significance, architectural icon or building associated with a significant person. You may be able to get some help from past owners, community leaders, and local historians in order to make such a determination.
Decide on the Building's Future Purpose
Predetermining what the historic building will be used for will allow architects to retrofit it properly, a process known as an adaptive reuse. This process maintains the building’s historic character while meeting the needs of its current occupants. Adaptive reuse has many environmental benefits and is a key component in sustainable development.
To successfully repurpose a historic building, you will most likely need partners. A good starting point would be your local historical society. They should be able to give you the benefit of their experience and provide networking opportunities that put you in touch with the right people to make your project happen.
You may also be able to partner with your local Chamber of Commerce, various merchant associations, educational groups and neighborhood associations. Although it may take some time, it is important to build a coalition of support. You should also try to get the support of your local government. They could be a big help when it comes to navigating the various federal, state and local ordinances that deal with the repurposing of historic buildings.
Historic building restoration is costly, and you will most likely need to secure funding. Potential sources include state grants, tax credits, private funding, and donations.
Select the Right Architecture Firm
To successfully repurpose a historic building, it is vital that you select the best architecture firm for the job. Not every architectural firm has the knowledge and experience that you need. You want a firm that understands the significance of the architectural style and reuses as many parts as possible. One such firm is Artech Design Group of Chattanooga, Tennessee. With more than 30 years of experience, they have the ability to develop a new purpose for your historic building.