Gaines Group Architects

32. Warehouse Renovations #105architecturalinspiration

32. Warehouse Renovations #105architecturalinspiration

Growing up in Roanoke before the downtown revitalization had begun I had big dreams. I often thought about taking one of the old downtown warehouse / office buildings that stood unloved and turning one into a home. These buildings have incredible architectural details. They were built when buildings were considered as a reflection of the person building it. They are structurally over the top by today’s standards and often were left to rot in place.


Now many if not most of these buildings have been renovated in downtown Roanoke. They are now beautiful office spaces or high-end condos with elaborate marketing portfolios that sell the history as well as the space. The buildings are once again loved.


Dreaming about renovating one of these buildings as a child was part of my inspiration to become an architect. I did not understand sustainability at the time. It was not discussed even in the industry that long ago. We often got rid of old buildings that were in the way and built new glass boxes that reflected the modern style. I have never been interested in that approach. I strongly believe that the fabric making up a place that has developed over time is an important part of the context that needs to exist for a healthy community.


Losing even one of these buildings creates a missing tooth that cannot be recreated. I am not saying that new architecture should not be added to a city. New buildings have their place and should be built as time never stands still and communities evolve. However, we should be very careful when deciding whether to create new or revive existing. I was inspired as a child dreaming about what the old buildings of Roanoke could be just as our old buildings will inspire the next generation of architects. These existing buildings tell the story of our community just as the new creations will tell our stories for the future.


In my career so far, I have been part of several projects that saved old houses and one small office building. However, I have not done a large building that makes up the fabric of a community. Until now. I will share more soon as we get to renovate a historic office building and bring it new life – this is going to be one incredibly fun project!

#105architecturalinspirations is a collection of architectural details, buildings, and spaces that inspire me. I am taking on the challenge of finding two projects to spotlight each week in 2015. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and this process of discovery will push me to create better design solutions for my clients as I research and learn more about those projects I enjoy most. I challenge you to add your comments below about this project and to post your own inspirations for all to enjoy.  Full List of previous #105architecturalinspiration posts 1 – 20. First 20 architectural inspirations here21. Michael Graves 22. St. Augustine 23. Guggenheim Museum24. Ocho House25.Bjarke Ingels 26. WG Clark 27. John F. Kennedy Space Center 28. Akademie Mont-Cenis 29. Sustainability Treehouse 30. Porch Rail 31. Martin Lurther King Jr. Memorial