Legacy: Gas Works Park, Seattle, WA. Photo: Richard Haag Collection
Quality: REI Flagship, Denver, Co. Mithun. Photo: REI
Systems: Optimism Brewing, Seattle, WA. Olson Kundig Architects. Photo: Suzi Pratt / suzi-pratt.com
Creativity and Craft: Melrose Market, Seattle, WA. Graham Baba Architects. Photo: David Delfs
Durability and Sustainability: Fort Worden Building 305, Port Townsend, WA. Historic Photo courtesy of National Park Service
Fort Worden Building 305, Port Townsend, WA. Wood shop converted to art studios and gallery.
Fort Worden Building 305, Port Townsend, WA. Historic Photo from Coast Artillery Museum
Fort Worden Building 305, Port Townsend, WA. New covered outdoor gathering and studios.
Fort Worden Building 305, Port Townsend, WA. New covered outdoor gathering, loading dock, and studios.

Amplify Brand with Stories of the Past

Adaptive reuse of existing buildings can be a starting point for a brand, amplifying the power of place through material and form to lay the groundwork for experience. Perception of an old building made anew is sometimes untenable. Renewed light fixtures, ancient wood grain, layers of paint, and other characteristic marks embed the story of a building’s past into the new experience.

“Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings, new ideas must use old buildings.”

  • Jane Jacobs, American-Canadian journalist, activist, and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities

We believe in this idea and the experiential nature of adaptive reuse reinforces the power of place and brand experience. Old ideas and buildings offer a distinct opportunity for brands to integrate their new vision and create their own history while carrying stories of the past into the next generation.  


Old to new – adaptive reuse exemplifies resourcefulness 101. The building or place as a time-tested tool shows resilience – with a bit of polish and thoughtful space design, reuse of existing finishes and materials, and careful re-imagination of the things that matter, the place can become an embodiment of the brand, and the experience is one of a kind. A thoughtful analysis of the existing structure, with a focus on how it can exemplify the brand is critical in determining the project potential.   


Durable materials improve with age and as a result, the perception of the brand has and will age well. Adapting an existing structure for a new use can render a modern brand in a way that separates it from similar offerings. Design that builds upon, embraces, or creates contrast within a traditional framework can amplify the character and quality of products and visitor experience. 


Quality materials illustrate confidence and a visible process can build trust. Creating a visual story of how a product is created invites the public to share in the action and keep coming back for more. Thoughtfully exposing building systems, integrating lighting and services, and revealing structural systems can set a stage for experience and brand presentation. Collaboration between brand and building design can utilize the embedded character of an existing structure to highlight marketing attributes, resulting in a dynamic relationship between product and place.  

Creativity and Craft

Making old new again takes a creative vision, inspires nostalgia and creates a lasting impression. Nostalgia is personal, offering an analog to the connected world, rooting the experience in the now and future. Revealing the scale, proportion, detail, and materials present in existing structures can showcase the brand in a setting that is supported by craft and legacy through care and reuse of existing or historic structures.  

Durability and sustainability

Exposed wood, brick, timber, and steel are hallmarks to hard work, durability, craft, and longevity. Integrating these materials with textiles, programming, and light can exemplify a brand that is simultaneously approachable, real, and resilient.  

Our current project at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, WA has explored this strategy throughout its tenure as a military fort turned lifelong learning campus. Building 305 will become a catalyst in the Fort’s Makers Square development, converting the Quartermasters Warehouse to an art and education hub. Hosting arts classrooms, a gallery, and workshops, it will embrace its hardworking heritage and character to become an inspiring learning place that bridges the centuries. Makers Square will promote lifelong learning inspired by craft, the power of place, and new ideas in the Pacific Northwest.