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Giving old concrete buildings new life – Journal of Commerce

The Pacific Palisades twin concrete towers are being refurbished with a new exterior and interior to give the structures, built in the 60s, new life.

Vancouver architect Wing Leung calls it giving old concrete buildings new life.

Others call it renewing or recycling buildings.

While heritage buildings are often recycled, there is an emerging trend to reuse concrete buildings constructed in the 1960s and 70s.

“It will become more and more prominent in the future,” said Leung, who is spearheading the redesign of one of the largest such projects in Vancouver – the Pacific Palisades twin towers.

This trend is one that architects like Leung said he sees catching on as larger cities, such as Vancouver, become more concerned with sustainability and the environmental impact of removing large concrete structures from congested city areas.

It’s just not Vancouver that’s thinking this way.

In Toronto, the Mayor’s Tower Renewal project is a major effort looking at up to 1,000 buildings from that era and attempting to upgrade these older highrise residential concrete structures to become more sustainable.

A 2011 University of Toronto symposium on tower recycling focused on the Mayor’s project and the worldwide impact of this kind of activity.

The Pacific Palisades Hotel twin towers started out as apartments in 1966, but then became a 233-unit hotel and apartment complex.

They were recently acquired by Austeville Properties for conversion back to rental units.

“This is a very enlightened client,” said Leung, adding the work could have been phased in.

But, Austeville decided to strip the exterior and gut the interiors.

“It was also an interesting project,” he said.

Removing some finishes restored the era’s post-modernist design on exterior lower faces.

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