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Document Type

Campus Access

Degree Program

Architecture

Degree Type

Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

Year Degree Awarded

2009

Month Degree Awarded

May

Keywords

Sustainability, Preservation, Historic preservation, Adaptive reuse, Sustainable development, Data mapping

Abstract

Sustainable development practices and historic preservation efforts are imbued with contradictions, overlappings and shortcomings. Adaptive reuse is a tool for the sustainable preservation of existing building stock that bridges these approaches and more appropriately addresses the values of time, energy, place and community with respect to the built environment. Destruction of both material and abstract qualities can be circumvented by actively engaging a site, landscape or context through revealing and crossbreeding complex patterns, traces and perspectives. The value of a datascape is optimized when such a re-contextualization consists of both additive and subtractive manipulations and is flexible, continuous and regenerative.

To avoid demolition and severing connections to the past and to extend the potential success of the development of the former Belchertown State School for the Feeble Minded in Belchertown, Massachusetts, I investigated ways by which the existing Auditorium Building and its relationship to the site could be re-contextualized. Since 1992, this defunct state-operated facility has been closed, transferred to the town and considered for economic development. Within the one hundred fifty-five-acre parcel that remains to be developed there are approximately sixty acres of forested areas and wetlands, a freshwater pond, and numerous abandoned school buildings in poor condition. The Auditorium Building, centrally located within the buildable area of the state school parcel, acted as a gateway into the campus and historically served as a gathering, performing and learning space for both school and Belchertown residents.

In conjunction with precedent and programmatic research, I mapped patterns of State School site data which included not only existing, visible data but that which is historical, potential and invisible. The interpretation of these vectors, connections and boundaries served as a framework for re-contextualization and aimed to identify contextual attributes that require preservation, accretion or removal. The grafting of this data to the Auditorium Building and its surroundings exposed and affected various patterns of behavior that ultimately impacted its form, program and relationship to the landscape.

First Advisor

Skender Luarasi

Second Advisor

Sigrid Miller Pollin

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