Urban Living and Historic Rehabilitation in Richmond
The greenest building is the one that is already built.
Look out your window. If you’re in Richmond, chances are there’s an old or historic building within sight. Consider for a moment all the resources it would take to tear down that building and replace it with a new one. Rehabilitating what is already there is not only more efficient, but also helps maintain an area’s character, rein in urban sprawl, and forces a creativity of design that can result in some extraordinarily unique spaces that add to the overall feel of urban living.
As we set about to transform the four industrial warehouses of The Locks into modern, luxury apartments, we began by evaluating opportunities for the reuse of what already existed. Architect Walter Parks, whose team led the design for the renovation of these historically significant structures, has a wonderful maxim: “Let the old be old, and the new be new.” Essentially, he means we shouldn’t replace sound, 100-year old beams with new timber, nor should we try to make a modern apartment feel like it was built at the turn of the century. That’s why at The Locks, sleek, modern design is not mutually exclusive with exposed brick and original hardwood flooring.
Allowing the old and the new to complement each other in this way is not just clever design; re-purposing what already exists around us is an opportunity to create walk-able, diverse communities. Reducing the environmental footprint of a building reduces the environmental footprint of its inhabitants, and ultimately, of the entire city. At the heart of this perspective is a regard for sustainability as a lifestyle, not just as an occasional tree-planting ceremony or use of green products.
Preserving a building’s historical character does not have to mean sacrificing sustainable building practices or modern conveniences for urban living. The historic rehabilitation of The Locks is a salute to both.
“Consume less; share better.” ―Hervé Kempf