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Heritage Conservation: Celebrating Culture and Designed Spaces Through Adaptive Reuse

When I saw this assignment in the DS106 bank, I immediately knew what photo I wanted to use. The challenge was to color change a photo, creating a new or different perspective on the environment. I lived in this building, the old Hot Springs High School, during the year I spent in Arkansas. President Bill Clinton attended high school here and graduated in the class of 1964. My studio loft was a largely unchanged classroom with massive windows and large cabinents that looked as though they previously held scientific equipment from a Biology or Chemistry class. As you walk down the halls of the building, rows of lockers remain, beckoning your interest as to the contents. Many are locked, but some of those unlocked still contained crumpled papers and discarded pencils. The hallways echo with the smallest sound, and imagining the sounds of a busy high school within them instantly transports you to a different world. Originally constructed in 1914 in a Late Gothic Revival style, the structure was named as a Historic Place in 1988. After discontinued service as a school it was converted to loft apartments, art galleries, and a performance art theater.

Adaptive Reuse of designed spaces allows us to celebrate and preserve the stories of our culture and past. When a structure or designed space is no longer used for it's original purpse, finding a new life for the space is essential in preserving our heritage. From the moment you see the building, a strong sense of place and time is commanded. The stories and characters of that place and time invite us to learn about them, and they live on through our connection with the space.

You can learn more about adaptive reuse and follow current projects on the blog over at We Are the Next. More on my work with this non profit in future blog posts. Stay tuned!

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