Reflecting on Finegold Alexander Architects’ Trailblazing Role in the Adaptive Reuse Movement

Nearly 45 years later adaptive reuse has become a common industry approach, but that was not always the case...

January 26, 2022
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Since our firm’s origins, dating back to 1967, adaptive reuse has been a cornerstone of our approach to projects, understanding the opportunity to adapt historical buildings to fit modern needs while appreciating and preserving the historical structures. Our firms’ founders Timothy Anderson, AIA and George Notter, AIA were some of the first architects to conceive the notion of adaptive reuse, recognizing existing buildings not as constraints, but as opportunities. Early Finegold Alexander projects including the Prince Factory and 1976 AIA Honor Award recipient Old City Hall (both featured above respectively) are testaments to firm’s commitment to preservation and innovation.

These accomplishments did not go unnoticed as the 1977 American Institute of Architects Journal featured our firm in the article ‘A Boston Firm That Has Made A Specialty of Adaptive Use’.

Page 1 of the 1977 article.

Excerpt from the Article

The work of Anderson Notter Finegold of Boston underscores significant changes that have occurred within the American preservation movement in recent years, and has, at least in New England, served as a catalyst for these changes.

“I think the preservation people began to realize it isn’t economical to simply take museum-type buildings out of the mainstream and preserve them as they are. They began to look at the stuff we are doing in adaptive reuse as being a good economic engine to support preservation goals.” - Timothy Anderson, AIA

The “stuff” Anderson Notter has been doing consists mainly of converting surplus warehouse, factories, mill and schoolhouses to new commercial and residential uses.

“[Adaptive reuse is] turning a structural surplus to human service and thereby heightening the identity of places where people live and work.” - George Notter, AIA

Page 2 of the 1977 article.

As we look back nearly half a century later, we recognize the foundations laid by George and Timothy. 55 years later and adaptive reuse is just as prevalent in our work as we continue to find ways to give new life to the buildings around us. Recent adaptive reuse projects include: The Lucas, Eliot Innovation School, Salem Jail Residences, 260 High Park, Alice K. Wolf Center and many more.