Adaptive reuse projects can cause a lot of problems in the design and development phases, but the solutions are often awe-inspiring.

The projects below showcase some of the best adaptive reuse projects that have been submitted for MFE Awards in recent years. From a crumbling old facade left vacant for years to a freshly polished living space that brings back a bit of America's history, these developments prove how revamping an old building can literally turn around an entire neighborhood.

Once you've found some inspiration in these selected projects, don't forget to enter your own adaptive reuse projects (and others) in the 2016 MFE Awards!

Randolph Tower City Apartments - Village Green Builders; 2013 Adaptive Reuse: Grand

Randolph Tower City Apartments

For years, Randolph Tower blighted the block it occupied in Chicago’s business district. It wasn’t unheard of for pieces of the terra-cotta façade of the building, built in 1929, to chip and fall on pedestrians walking below. Then Village Green stepped in to rehabilitate the building to its old glory.

WinnDevelopment has converted two historic mill buildings in Lawrence, Mass., into 75 units of mixed-income housing.
Loft Five50 - WinnDevelopment; 2013 Adaptive Reuse: Merit

Loft Five50

WinnDevelopment used state and federal historic tax credits to transform two historic mill buildings into mixed-income housing, 95 percent of which has been set aside for workforce housing. Today, the 1860s-era buildings offer 75 apartment units that are twice the size of those in most modern communities, with large windows and 20-foot ceilings.

Foundry Lofts, Project of the Year: Adaptive Reuse
Courtesy Forest City Residential Foundry Lofts - Forest City Residential; 2012 Adaptive Reuse: Grand

Foundry Lofts

When Forest City Residential decided to take on a development project in the historic Washington, D.C., Navy Yard, it noticed right away that much of the construction around the site was brand-new. But the company wanted to preserve the history of Foundry Lofts, as a large-scale woodworking shop and pattern storehouse.

Harrison Station - Harrison Commons; 2013 Adaptive Reuse: Grand

Harrison Station

In 2006, Harrison Commons began remediation of a former industrial and warehouse site in Harrison, N.J. As the first building in a multiphase revitalization of the run-down area, the four-story, mixed-use property reflects the area’s industrial past, while showcasing contemporary architecture.

Troy Thies Photography ElseWarehouse - BKV Group; 2014 Adaptive Reuse: Grand


ElseWarehouse is a perfect example of the old adage TO not judge a book by its cover. Though the building exterior is plain, the inside is anything but ordinary. Renovation of a 1920s-era warehouse into a mixed-use community created a striking blend of modern features and original details.

Temple Art Lofts - Domus Development; 2014 Adaptive Reuse: Merit

Temple Art Lofts

When Vallejo, Calif. declared bankruptcy in 2008, two long-vacant, government-owned, landmark buildings—the original City Hall, built in 1872, and the Masonic Temple, built in 1917— slated for condo development went into foreclosure. However, Domus Development worked with the City to salvage and renovate the structures as the mixed-use Temple Art Lofts.

Harry Connolly Mount Vernon Mill No. 1 - Terra Nova Ventures; 2014 Adaptive Reuse: Merit

Mount Vernon Mill No. 1

The conversion of a shuttered Baltimore

cotton mill into a mixed-use community has helped preserve America’s industrial past.

Schmidt Artist Lofts - BKV Group: Grand Winner/Adaptive Reuse
Schmidt Artist Lofts - BKV Group; 2015 Adaptive Reuse: Grand

Schmidt Artist Lofts

It was no small feat for St. Paul, Minn.–based developer Dominium to turn this 147-year-old brewery into a live–work–play community that revitalized its surroundings, which also happens to be our 2015 Editors' Choice Winner.

The Melrose - Humphreys & Partners Architect: Merit Winner/Adaptive Reuse
The Melrose - Humphreys & Partner Architects; 2015 Adaptive Reuse: Merit

The Melrose

While most adaptive reuse projects aim to keep some of a building’s history intact, the redevelopment of The Melrose Theater managed to maintain the very essence of the 1940s movie scene.