Rather than demolish, these designers use neglected and forgotten architecture as a springboard for creative solutions.
Starting with an abandoned bodega on a Chicago corner, Matt Nardella and Laura Crip of moss Design Studio transformed the rundown building into a 6,000-square-foot complex called Logan Certified. The new space includes moss's design studio and offices, a showroom, a furniture and art gallery, as well as a personal apartment and a rental apartment. There's even a private courtyard with a custom pizza oven.
St. Louis architect William G. McCuen, Jr. passed a neglected midcentury gas station on the corner on his daily commute for eight years. Whereas neighbors saw an eyesore, McCuen saw potential. "It appealed to me that it was just so pathetic. Every time I’d pass it, I’d think, 'Man, that would just be a great house’," says McCuen.
McCuen converted the former brownfield into a three-bedroom home, perfect for large family get togethers and aging in place.
Ioa Studio revamped a 150-year-old pub with a funky layout into a warm and cozy home, using curved surfaces, textural elements, and a bright color scheme.
In 2014, Sandy Suffield bought a 100-year-old Victorian utility building in the English town of Bury St. Edmunds, then worked with designer and friend Michael Corsar to give the building a new life as her personal residence. The pair saved many elements of the original building that spoke to its history, such as the ceiling rafters and exterior brickwork, while modernizing it and gently expanding the footprint.
In order to transform a 990-square-foot motorcycle shop into a two-bedroom, two-bath home, Spanish architect Mariana de Delás first thought about the home's connection to the street. "As the existing ground-floor access door created a very violent connection between the road and the studio, it was essential to integrate an intermediate buffer garden area," says the firm.
The derelict McDonough School #30 sat empty in New Orleans’ Third Ward for decades, and would have been lost to time, if not for a recent renovation by Rome Office. Now, the former classrooms in the 1894 Victorian building contain minimalist apartments, their facilities (such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry) pulled from the external walls into "boxes for living," so as to preserve as much of the exterior character as possible.
A construction business run by a married couple, Constructions Boivin in Quebec, teams up with family to redesign a large historic church into a comfortable home, even keeping the bell tower and organ in place.
"Even after the transformation, we still feel the original acoustic in the building," says the owner. "It is majestic…The sound of the bell makes the villagers smile, and the sound of the organ makes the whole building vibrate, and there’s the incredible impression of living in a building that will last forever."
This space in a high-rise in the Ukraine had terrific bones, such as 20-foot-ceilings and full-height windows with 180-degree views, but had been underutilized as an equipment room. A renovation by the Kiev–based architecture and design studio 2B.group recasts it as a stylish penthouse.
After buying a 1923 auto repair garage in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood in 2011, Klari Reis and Michael Isard spent five years renovating it for the ultimate work-life balance, turning it into an art studio, gallery, and home.
In Melbourne, Robson Rak Architects reconstruct a decrepit cottage and dairy stable as a family compound, connecting the two with a modern glass addition and internal courtyard.
In an 1869 building in New York City’s Financial District, drab office fittings like dropped ceilings and a bland kitchen obscured dramatic city views and a top-notch brick and steel shell. When tasked with transforming the unit into a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment, StudioKCA asked: "How much can you peel away to get at the essence of what was once there?"
In a thoughtful remodel from Faulkner Architects, an old barn with a dirt floor becomes a well-appointed guesthouse, complete with a dreamy screened porch and its original framing.
"Everyone loves the idea of inhabiting a barn," Faulkner says. "But what generally happens is, the very things that make it a barn are diminished by the things that make it a house, like small windows and overhangs. Our tack was to return it to its barn vocabulary and stay away from elements that don’t contribute to that concept."