Nothing says sustainability more than preserving, restoring and repurposing existing buildings. The greenest buildings today are those already built. Masonry is a sustainable, resilient material that can survive floods and fires. It is the oldest and most permanent building material, exuding a sense of permanence, longevity, quality, reliability and familiarity, yet it is forgiving and flexible. Many brick buildings that were built more than 100 years ago are continuing to fulfill their original purposes, while others have been adapted for new purposes.
Our firm, Croxton Collaborative Architects (CCA), a founder of the modern sustainability movement, recently completed the 21,000-square-foot international headquarters for Iredale Mineral Cosmetics (IMC)—manufacturers of jane iredale—in Great Barrington, Mass. A replacement for the company’s smaller home base nearby, the new structure represents the rehabilitation of the abandoned 1889 William Cullen Bryant School building (and its early 1900s addition), a Massachusetts Cultural Resource, as a 21st century center of operations.
Balancing preservation with modern functionality is not an easy job for any restoration project, but when converting a 19th century prison into a 21st century, luxury hotel, the situation is unusual if not unprecedented. In 2002, a design and construction team led by Cambridge Seven Associates began a five-year process to restore the defunct Charles Street Jail in Boston.