Adaptive reuse re-creates unique opportunities

Jamie Hamilton, a designer at Kahler Slater, said a tremendous amount of opportunities and challenges present themselves in adaptive-reuse projects that just don’t arise when working on a standard hotel project.

The metal railings throughout the former office building in Milwaukee and high ceilings in what will be converted into Hilton Garden Inn guestrooms are features that are not found in new-build hotel construction these days, Hamilton said. “They just don’t make it like that anymore.”

Historic tiles on the first floor and an old bank vault also will remain as the building is converted into a hotel, Plank said.

Incorporating those unique features allows the designers to preserve the building’s previous life while still maintaining the brand’s identity.

Surprising opportunities also come up during the demolition phase of adaptive-reuse projects, Hamilton said. In the case of the Hilton Garden Inn Milwaukee, the team uncovered a skylight they were not expecting to find.

“In 1886, it was a great way to get natural light,” Plank said. “It’s really just reflective of the building design.”

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