Adaptive reuse in architecture has its twists and turns. While it creates an opportunity for a lesser carbon footprint and innovative use of existing buildings, it also poses constraints for the architects to wrestle and find a creative solution from the ashes of the past. In this sense, Atlanta-based firm BLDGS has successfully paved a new way through their projects. Being a pioneer in this typology was not an easy task. At the crossroad of old and new, their exploration into history has found a new voice in these buildings.

Below is the list of 15 Projects by BLDGS:

1. Congregation Or Hadash Synagogue

An abandoned automotive repair facility was transformed into this synagogue. This adaptive reuse kind of symbolizes the congregation’s motto- ‘Tikkun Olam’ or ‘repairing the earth’. A one-story steel frame building turned into a permanent home of the congregation with the main sanctuary, social hall, chapel, classrooms, administrative wing, and open courtyard. The present permeable landscape has created a bridge between the new multi-functional use and the old asphalt surrounding.

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Permeable Surface, ©
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Top View, ©
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Plan, ©
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The Courtyard, ©

2. Villa de Murph

A 1947 automotive electric parts warehouse was abandoned after 1992. In early 2000, it caught the eye of the architect, and later after a grueling journey of demolition and rebuilding, the firm’s first work emerged as a home plus a working studio. From outside, the center courtyard seems almost invisible, which gradually transcends into the studio and naturally skylighting the inner living area.

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The Open Courtyard, ©
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Plan, ©

.View of Courtyard from Studio, ©

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The Living Area, ©
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The Studio, ©
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The Entry Canopy, ©

3. Ansley Glass House

This project is essentially an addition to a 1910-era house. The design explores the various opportunities of living within nature in this dense neighborhood. What started as mere requests to the architects like a second stair and kitchen lighting gradually progressed into a context-sensitive living environment, taking the inhabitants close to the Piedmont forest and utilizing the interconnected space inside.

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Third Floor Plan ©
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Second Floor Plan ©
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First Floor Plan ©
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Site Plan, ©
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The Dining and Kitchen Space, ©
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View to the Surrounding Forest, ©
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The Staircase, ©
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Living Room, ©
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Perspective from the Courtyard, ©

4. Van Leer Inter-Disciplinary Commons

This vibrant student makerspace is a testament to how spaces can help foster creativity and openness. It is hard to believe that this light-filled space is a transformation from a 1961 windowless auditorium. Keeping the architectural beauty of this rotunda intact, this project creates connectivity with the surrounding campus in an unprecedented fashion.

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Circulation and Punches in the Original Drum, ©
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The central space, ©
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The Rotunda and Surrounding, ©

5. John and Joyce Caddell Building

This academic and administration space was transformed from a 1950s structure. It is also a climate-responsive building, where the piece-de-resistance is the massive 28-feet cantilevered canopy with parametrically designed louvers. The facade and canopy interact with the pedestrian in an innovative sustainable way creating a profound presence on the campus.

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Upper floor Plan ©
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Ground Floor Plan ©
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Previous condition ©
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Entry Canopy ©

6. Georgia Tech Campus Center

This unbuilt project is a collaboration with two other firms, proposing a mix of adaptive reuse space and new construction. It proposes a dynamic connection through creative and climate-responsive zoning of its two approaches.

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Approach 2 ©


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Approach 2 ©
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Approach 1 ©
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Approach 1 ©
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Site plan ©
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Program Distribution ©
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Site Analysis ©

7. Atlanta Contemporary Art Center

Built between 1920 and 1950, this space was renovated by honoring its context and geometry, something that was absent in its 1990 transformation. Thus, the galleries and studio spaces make a connection among the visitors, the art community, and the rich uniqueness.

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Proposed Plan ©
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Existing Plan ©
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8. Boundary Issues

It is a commission installed in 2008 in ACAC. The aim was to create a dialogue between past and present through the opening of a blocked-up window and revealing the original masonry underneath the finished surface of the interior.

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The Progress of Past into the Present ©
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Outer Condition ©
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Installation Perspective ©

9. Whitespace Art Gallery

An 1893 carriage house emerged as one of the best contemporary art galleries in Atlanta in 2006. The interior enhances the existing raw structure, creating a stark contrast between the exhibition and its surrounding. The three exhibition rooms, all accessed through different paths, make the most of the space, taking the visitor to an exquisite journey of arts.

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10. Steelcase Worklife Showroom

The interior renovation of the space effectively portrays the holistic approach of the workspace design of Steelcase. The interconnection of space through the glass walls, exposure to the different levels of floors, and the revealing structure above creates a unique working atmosphere.

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11. Burned House

In a neighborhood ravaged by the 1917 Great Fire, this single-family residence creates a wonderful solid-void relationship of the masses. With the constraint of a small land area, the four stories are stacked without deteriorating the inner privacy. The unique aspect is its exterior panel’s dark color coating; the various layer of coating are hoped to erode itself, revealing the changing decomposed outlook which reverberates the history of the neighborhood.

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Interior ©
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Section ©
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Plan ©
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Discoloration of Exterior ©
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12. Bloomberg News Bureau

The exposed raw concrete interior creates a natural environment on the 26th floor with the view of the open city below. The baffles in the ceiling create a sound-absorbing plane hiding the mechanical and HVAC components above. The interior creates a vibrant working environment and a connection to the surrounding context.

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Plan ©
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13. Octane Coffee Café

The narrow and tall space was renovated to create a cozy, comfortable environment. The customized neon lighting and furniture transform the former box-office space of Woodruff Arts Center into a vibrant hangout space.

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14. Ferst Center for the Arts

The conceptual design study of the renovation of this facility creates some new frontiers to explore the possibilities of the surrounding landscape of the current center. Because of the location of the facility, its activities often go unnoticed. This proposal creates a more engagement scenario for a vibrant cultural atmosphere.

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15. Museum of Art Lima

This unbuilt museum addition amplifies urban density in an area consisting of a historic museum building, city park, and an underground metro station by taking the complete functions below ground. The high roof, creating shade for the plaza, also invites daylight in the subterranean museum space below. As the place invites a lot of urban people, this addition has rather become a catalyst for activity without hampering the landmark view.

Atlanta’s rich history provides a unique opportunity for adaptive reuse, which BLDGS has been exploring quite innovatively. The dialogue posed before us is quite thought-provoking, like how we can connect to the past and fulfill our present need at the same time. Although this work has its own grueling moments, these moments also at the same time creates magic in the spaces, making us wonder about the time that was once forgotten. This sensitivity is also seen in their other projects of different typologies, making their work vibrant and engaging.

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Fascinated by the enigma and stories around us, Raquibul Hassan tries to understand the narratives of the city from its unheard whispers. He believes in change, however small or big, brought by those words. Often, he finds solace in his wanderlust, photography, reading and cinephilia.

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