Track 1: Decline vs. Revival: Tempering the Impulse to Tear Down and Start Over
1 - Preserving the Kirkbride Legacy: An Analysis of the Extant State of the Plan and Challenges of Adaptive Reuse
Monday, September 24
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: BNCC- 101AH
Architectural Designer + Preservation Specialist
Bret Johnson Architecture
Preserving the Kirkbride Legacy: An Analysis of the Extant State of the Plan and Challenges of Adaptive Reuse
Across American landscapes, grand institutional complexes were built to serve the mentally ill. They remain icons across the country reflecting our nineteenth - twentieth-century approach to mental illness. The Kirkbride Plan, a novel building type emerged to serve as a solution to what had been perceived as a social conflict. During the mid 19th century, the responsibility of caring for the mentally ill shifted from private families to the state governments, increasing that sense of a social problem. For this reason, a unique building type was created through the interrelationship between the social institution and the buildings, as was required to support the institution onward. This irreplaceable evidence remaining on American landscapes stands as a reference to who we were as a society and how we have addressed certain issues, and thus is of great value and should be managed responsibly. More than reviving communities whose industries are changing, these campuses would also serve as a reminder of Kirkbride's theory and the distinct building it produced, as well as serve as a landmark in social and humanitarian history.
The intent of this multifold mixed methods advocacy paper is to communicate the impact Kirkbride planned hospitals made on the American landscape, to measure how the building type changed over time, and to assess the adaptive reuse potential of the building type today. A database was generated recording attribute data for all Kirkbride complexes identified. The thematic mapping method was employed to map the geographic distribution of these buildings, the chronological order of development, and to display the distribution of the assigned current status code(s). In addition to historical research and Kirkbride Legacy Database methods, the research utilized quantitative analysis, and case studies taking advantage of various strategies within each method.
Across the United States, 73 Kirkbride complexes were identified. Of the 73, 40 were demolished, 24 preserved, and nine adaptively reused. Of the nine, the defined uses include multi-family residential, correctional facility, and mixed use. Of these, the character-defining features of highest significance were retained in all cases except one and six alteration types were observed. All projects required some planning and funding actions for successful rehabilitation, yet these processes were most complex in a mixed-use program. Through this research, lessons learned from each of the nine reuse cases are presented to inform communities how other developers achieved successful rehabilitation.
Keywords: Kirkbride Hospitals, Adaptive Reuse, Historic Preservation
- identify a Kirkbride planned hospital building and the social factors which created the purpose-built structure.
- describe the impact Kirkbride planned hospitals made on the American landscape, how the building type has changed over time, and the adaptive reuse potential of the building.
- explain planning and funding tactics used to redevelop Kirkbride complexes, methods that are also applicable in the rehabilitation of any large-scale institutional building or white elephant.
- list the design challenges when addressing new uses in a Kirkbride hospital.