Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, is a rural agricultural borough situated in
the heart of Franklin County. There are several existing agricultural buildings
no longer being used for their original purposes, and the landscape is dotted
with these iconic structures. These buildings offer significant opportunities for
sensitive rehabilitation and sustainable upgrades. The historic Bowers/Reed
barn in Montgomery Township near Mercersburg is one example of sustainable
rehabilitation, fully incorporating the environmental, economic, social,
and cultural aspects of sustainability. Retaining the character defining features
maintains the barn’s social and cultural identity in the region. Keeping the existing
structure is a major step in environmentally friendly design. Introducing
a new business infuses an economic track into an already rich cultural landscape.
With increased awareness and concern about the environmental crisis,
there is data specific to the building industry’s substantial negative impact.
The environmental impact avoided by using an existing building is significant.
Embodied energy metrics are swiftly becoming a key element in determining
the costs of a building carried over its lifetime. This quantifiable data is
augmented by qualitative positive effects on the regional economic, social,
and cultural landscapes. Successive Life Cycling directly addresses modern
concerns by adapting existing buildings for new uses, integrating modern and
traditional building methods.
Research for this project began with a comparison of published standards
for historic preservation [Secretary of Interior’s Standards] and green
building [LEED]. Books, articles, and conference proceedings in both areas
anchor the project research, while interviews with architectural historians,
policy advocates, builders, and architects support the readings. Significant
discoveries about the original uses of the barn and adjacent land are identified
through regular site visits to thoroughly document existing conditions.
Further site analysis proved that some modern systems are better suited than
others for this particular project.
The research for this project shows that adapting this existing barn
for a new eco-retreat not only preserves the cultural significance of the barn,
but it also draws on the proven durability of the structure. Moving forward,
the fields of design and building will rely heavily on adapting existing building
stock to manage carbon emissions, preserve raw materials, and strengthen
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Masters of Arts
Corcoran College of Art + Design (Washington, D.C.)
Masters Theses from the Corcoran College of Art + Design
The Corcoran College of Art + Design has non-exclusive publication rights. Permission is granted to quote from the thesis with the customary acknowledgement of the source. Copyright for each article is retained by the author. Republication in any form requires permission from the author of the thesis.