Current Project: Vacancy, Reuse & Creativity – A Cross-Atlantic Study of Urban Reinvention in Small and Mid-Sized Cities (2017-2020)


Adaptive reuse of derelict buildings and spaces has become a commonplace tool for urban reinvention, in particular in larger cities with high real estate market pressure. These methods and strategies use culture and creativity to reframe and reuse derelict spaces, foster place-making efforts, and create attractive, livable communities. But the contributions that smaller and mid-sized cities – which form the vast majority of urban areas by quantity – are making to this debate often go unnoticed. This research seeks to gather methods and strategies that small and mid-sized cities have employed to bolster growth and reactivate derelict spaces, thus opening up a new topic in the growing body of literature about adaptive reuse.

This research highlights case studies from small (10,000 to 50,0000), medium (100,000 to 250,000), and large (400,000 to 600,000) cities, examining not only the types of spaces involved and the projects enacted to reactivate them, but also the constellation of stakeholders and actors behind the initiative and the pathway from concept to realization, including funding. By offering case studies from the US and Europe, this research hopes to speak to a variety of policy and administrative contexts, and illustrate the transferability of effective methods beyond borders.

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