Two trends in building today are urbanization and a focus on sustainability. Concerns about sustainability, especially in building and city design, have been growing for decades now, and are being driven forward by fears over the effects of climate change. Urbanization is rapid population growth in many cities around the world caused by an influx of people from suburban, exurban, and rural communities. In some parts of the United States which experienced suburbanization during the middle part of the 20th century, this is a return of population to the city, or a reurbanization. This growth has led to a need for new development, with a focus on sustainability, in areas where past developments already exist. For these new developments to occur unused or underused buildings and sites are targeted for either adaptive reuse or slated to be demolished and replaced.
Whereas the environmental and financial sustainability of different types of building design and construction have repeatedly been the focus of studies, the effects on social sustainability have been, for the most part, neglected. This paper compares the effects of adaptive reuse development with new development on issues which pertain to the social sustainability of a community, specifically community identity and local pride. The goal is to better understand the effects of different types of development on the surrounding community to better direct future redevelopment in a socially sustainable way.
Research was conducted by surveying residents of Rochester, New York, on six selected developments, as well as their general impressions of the Rochester community. Data from the surveys was analyzed to better understand if, and to what extent, adaptive reuse and new construction developments have affected the community identity and local pride of the surrounding area. This research shows that adaptive reuse better establishes or retains community identity and does more to foster local pride than new construction, and therefore should be given extra consideration when redeveloping urban neighborhoods.
Department, Program, or Center
Julius J. Chiavaroli
Dennis A. Andrejko
Gauger, Ian, "Adaptive Reuse as a Means for Socially Sustainable (Re)Development: How Reuse of Existing Buildings Can Help to Establish Community Identity and Foster Local Pride" (2020). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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