History and Invention: Adaptive Reuse for an Urban Future

Antony Wood
Chief Executive Officer
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Chicago



Our cities are at a crossroads for climate change. Urban growth has outpaced suburban growth for the first time since the mass production of the automobile and with two-thirds of the global population expected to live in urban areas by 2050, it is increasingly likely that the climate change battle will be won or lost in our cities. An increase in city living, however, is an increase in sustainable living, and an important step in mitigating climate change.

In this context, the practice of Adaptive Reuse—the preservation, renovation, and reuse of an existing structure for a new purpose—is an imperative urban development strategy for environmentally and economically sustainable future cities. It is uniquely situated to allow for increased urban density while avoiding the awesome costs and environmental impact of building new.

This presentation will exhibit a number of examples including the repositioning of a 2.6 million square-foot global financial institution, the three-year resurrection and transformation of the Waldorf Astoria New York and the revitalization of an iconic tower and plaza in downtown Manhattan. In addition, it will present other important urban infrastructural overbuilds such as the transformation of the James A. Farley Post Office building into the new Moynihan Train Hall, a 21st century transportation hub.

Both history and invention for the future, these projects propose sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing problems of our contemporary cities and provide an urgently needed roadmap for the future of urban development.

View the Session Report