Adaptive Reuse

Old structures with interesting histories give neighborhoods character and teach us about our past. Adaptive reuse is a great way to honor that past while meeting the needs of the present. In Potrero Hill, the warehouses standing in the footprint of a proposed new development date back to the early 20th century and are associated with what was once the largest steel production factory on the West Coast. These structures meaningfully link us to the industrial history of our neighborhood. As illustrated in the pictures that follow, many successful adaptive reuse projects are already flourishing throughout San Francisco and around the world. They provide thoughtful variety and texture to the city's evolving narrative and are a testament to the surprising delight of reuse over the sterile predictability of replacement. The warehouses on this site merit the same new lease on life, in honor of the place they've occupied in the history of steel production in California. (See "Romance of Steel in California", which you can find in two PDF parts here: Part 1, Part 2.)

Further Reading:
What's Old Is New Again (GreenSource)
Preserving New York's Industrial Past (The New York Times)
The Real High Line Effect—A Transformational Triumph of Preservation and Design (Huffington Post)
How Adaptive Reuse Can Catalyze Communities (SPUR)
Two Old Banks Stand Proud (Untapped Cities)
Gas Works Park (Preservation Seattle)
7 (More) Amazing Adaptive Reuse Architecture Projects (Web Urbanist)
Architectural sparks when old meets new (SFGate)
There's an art to converting an old building while keeping its soul (SFGate)
Pearl Brewery (Architectural Record)
Adapt, Transform, Reuse (SPUR)

California College of Arts, San Francisco Campus

  • 1111 8th Street
  • Former Greyhound bus maintenance facility
  • Originally built in 1951 by Skidmore Owings and Merrill Architects
  • Renovated in 1997 by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
  • Currently an art school

Southern Pacific Brewing

  • 620 Treat Street
  • Former machine shop (C. A. Kilger Machine Works)
  • Renovated in January 2012 by Boor Bridges Architecture
  • Currently a bar, restaurant, and full-production brewery

Mission Bowling Club

  • 3176 17th Street
  • Former electrical supply warehouse of corrugated metal construction
  • Adaptive reuse completed in 2012 by MH Architects
  • Currently a bar, restaurant, and bowling alley

355 11th Street

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Formerly a derelict turn-of-the-20th-century warehouse
  • Adaptive reuse completed in 2008 by Aidlin Darling Design
  • Currently shared as office space and the Bar Agricole restaurant

Villa de Murph

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Originally built in 1947 as an automotive electrical repair shop and used in the 1960s as a warehouse
  • Adaptive reuse completed in 2008 by architects Brian Bell and David Yocum
  • Currently used as office and residential space

Sawtooth Building

  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Originally a General Wax Industries plant from the early 1900s of corrugated metal construction
  • Renovated by Tuck-Hinton Architects
  • Currently an office and retail complex with courtyards

House of Air

  • Crissy Field, San Francisco, CA
  • Historic photo dated 1921
  • Originally an airplane hangar of corrugated metal construction

Mill City Museum

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Originally a 19th century flour mill
  • Nearly destroyed by a fire in 1991
  • Adaptive reuse completed in 2001 by architects Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle
  • Currently used as a museum and event venue

Kolstrand Building

  • Ballard (Seattle), WA
  • Originally a marine supply store dating back to 1910
  • Adaptive reuse completed in 2010 by Graham Baba Architects
  • Currently seeing mixed use as office, retail, and restaurant space

Heath Ceramics

  • 2900 18th Street, San Francisco, CA
  • Originally the Mission Linens laundry facility
  • Renovated in 2012 into a multiuse store, chef’s kitchen, tile factory, cafe, and exhibition space


Boilerhouse Restaurant

  • 1414 Harbour Way South, Richmond, CA
  • Former Ford automobile assembly plant
  • Designed by Albert Kahn in 1930
  • Renovated by Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects in 2009
  • Currently a restaurant

The Oriental Warehouse

  • 650 Delancey Street, San Francisco, CA
  • Originally built by the Pacific Mail Steamship company in 1868
  • Renovated into lofts by Edmonds & Lee Architects in 2010

Central Kitchen

  • 3000 20th Street, San Francisco, CA
  • Former German sausage factory
  • Renovated by Paxton Gate owner Sean Quigley and lead designer Todd McCrea
  • Currently a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating

Saison Restaurant

  • 178 Townsend Street, San Francisco, CA
  • Built in 1888
  • Originally the California Electric Light Company
  • Reopened in 2013 as a restaurant and housing units

The Shed

  • Sydney, Australia
  • Originally built in 1890 as a coach-building garage
  • Renovated by Richard Peters Associates in 2010
  • Currently used as a residence

Baker & Hamilton Building

  • 700 7th Street, San Francisco, CA
  • Built in 1904-1905
  • Former location of the Pacific Hardware and Steel Company (which merged with Baker & Hamilton)
  • Baker & Hamilton started using the building in 1918
  • Renovated by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architecture into office space for Adobe Corp.


Obscura Digital

  • 729 Tennessee Street, San Francisco, CA
  • Originally a warehouse from the 1940s
  • Renovated by IwamotoScott Architecture in 2010

25 Lusk

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Former meat packing and curing facility
  • Built in 1917
  • Currently a restaurant/lounge
  • Renovated by architect Cass Calder Smith in 2010

The Exploratorium

  • Piers 15 - 17, San Francisco, CA
  • Renovated by architects EHDD in 2013

355 Bryant Lofts

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Former warehouse
  • Renovated by David Baker & Partners Architects in 1992
  • Currently live/work lofts

Clock Tower Lofts

  • 461 2nd Street, San Francisco, CA
  • Originally constructed in 1907 for the Max Schmidt Lithograph Corporation (a printing company)
  • Renovated into lofts in 1992 by David Baker & Partners Architects

601 4th Street Lofts

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Former wine warehouse
  • Renovated into 85 live/work loft spaces by David Baker & Partners Architects in 1990

Contemporary Jewish Museum

  • 736 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
  • Former PG&E power substation
  • Built in 1907 by architect Willis Polk
  • Renovated by architect Daniel Libeskind
  • Completed in 2005

San Francisco Bar Pilots Station House

  • Pier 9
  • Former industrial shed
  • Built around 1932
  • San Francisco Bar Pilots Station House
  • Currently includes dispatch and chart rooms, kitchen and dining facilities, bunk rooms and a gym, etc.

Ferry Building

  • Completed in 1898
  • Designed by the New York architect A. Page Brown
  • After the bridges were constructed, the building was adapted for office use in the 1950s

Flora Grubb Garden

  • 1634 Jerrold Avenue, San Francisco, CA
  • Renovated by Boor Bridges Architecture in 2007
  • Currently consists of a large indoor store, a café, and over 12,000 sq. ft. of gardens

SoFlo Office Studios

  • San Antonio, TX
  • Originally a 1940s truck-trailer manufacturing plant
  • Adaptive reuse completed in 2007 by Alamo Architects and OCO Architects
  • Currently being used as office space

Live Oak School

  • 1555 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA
  • Former Hills Brothers Coffee plant
  • Renovated into a school in 2002

Banks at Grant & Market Street

  • Both buildings were built in 1910 and are still used as bank branches
  • Formerly the Savings Union Bank and Union Trust

Plant Cafe Organic

  • Pier 3
  • Former pier and railroad passage
  • Renovated by architect Cass Calder Smith in 2009

Pearl Brewery

  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Built in 1883
  • Re-opened in 2006 as a mixed-use facility
  • Lake/Flato Architects