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  • Writer's picturePhillips & Donovan Architects, LLC

A Tale of Ongoing Adaptive Reuse

As a community needs to grow and change, the buildings and sites within the community must also change to meet community needs and remain viable. The site at 3617 Route 202 in Buckingham Township occupies a prominent location at the intersection of Routes 202 and 313 and serves as a western gateway to Buckingham Township. The history and ongoing adaptive reuse of the site over time is as important as the architecture of the structures that have occupied it.

The site was occupied for many years by a gas station. This led to pollution of the surrounding groundwater and a long-term vacancy of the site during environmental clean up work. In 2008, a local community bank purchased the site and the modular gas station/convenience store structure that occupied it in order to adaptively reuse the building and site as a modern branch bank facility offering the opportunity to interact face-to-face with a teller to conduct business in a very personal and individual way. The existing steel frame modular building was modified and incorporated into the new and expanded footprint of the branch bank. The site was also modified to provide for the parking required by the branch bank and landscaped and signed to provide an attractive gateway to Buckingham Township.

In the late twenty-teens, with the advent, convenience, and popularity of on-line banking capabilities, the need to interact with a human teller and the need for physical branch banks greatly diminished. This led the community bank to close this branch.

After sitting vacant for a short time, the site and building were purchased by Visiting Angels in order to adaptively reuse them for their company offices. Once again, the existing building and site were modified and incorporated into the new structure. In this round of reuse, the building expansion was realized in the addition of a second story without the need to expand the existing building footprint or modify the existing parking and drives. Fortunately, the parking required for the previous banking use was sufficient to satisfy the requirement for the added business/office use. The entire interior layout of the building was modified to include first floor lobby, waiting, conference, scheduling, human resources, and marketing spaces, as well as a stair to the new second floor level. The new second floor includes private office space, open office space, and training facilities. The exterior of the building incorporated the existing first floor stone walls with the addition of a horizontally sided second floor and a shingled gable roof structure, dormers, and a cupola. The traditional building forms and traditional stone and siding materials integrate the building into its surroundings and community at large.

The evolution of this building over time shows one way to keep the cost of construction down, adaptively reuse a building multiple times so that it maintains relevance to the community it is situated in, and represents a sustainable choice in building practice.

The challenge for this particular project was to increase the usable office space on a compact and fully improved existing site. In order to meet the client's space and program needs, it was decided that a second floor addition constructed over the existing building footprint would be the best solution. This would effectively double the usable office space and provide for the client's space requirements. The parking required for the previous branch bank use was sufficient for the expanded office use. This eliminated the need for expensive site improvements and allowed the client to focus on their office space needs. The building addition was constructed using traditional forms and materials that allow it to blend with the traditional architecture that is prominent in the surrounding community, with the goal being to contribute to the community and not stand out against it as too unique or different.

If you are looking into staring an adaptive reuse project or would like to know more about the process of adaptively reusing a building Phillips and Donovan Architects, LLC would be happy to help. Our architects have worked on many adaptive reuse projects. Please feel free to reach out to us.


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