Inside Main Street: Guidelines for the Adaptive Use of Interior Spaces in Traditional Business Districts

  • Orthel, Bryan (PI)
  • Rothgeb, Terry (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


The School of Interior Design initiated the Inside Main Street research project to investigate design issues related to the adaptive use of historic interior spaces in traditional downtown business districts. The Inside Main Street project was envisioned to create design guidelines and educational tools to increase awareness of and protection for these interior spaces as buildings are adaptively used and preserved. The project follows a four-phase research plan. Phase One consisted of a survey of Main Street Program directors pationwide and physical documentation of example buildings in Kentucky communities. Phase Two will develop design guidelines to assist Cooperative Extension Service agents, Main Street directors, and others involved in rehabilitation processes to sensitively treat historic interiors. Phases Three and Four will develop design prototypes and educational resources for the Cooperative Extension Service, Main Street directors, and property owners. Phase One started in August 2004 and will be complete in May 2005. Phase One includes the documentation of six buildings in six Kentucky communities along with a national survey of Main Street Program directors. The buildings represent geographically, chronologically, and functionally divergent examples of typical conditions in Kentucky's traditional business districts. Documentation includes measured drawings and photography of interior spaces, written descriptions of building conditions, and archival research regarding building construction and use. Documentation information will be published on the Inside Main Street website in March 2005. The survey records the design resources currently used by Main Street Program directors to facilitate adaptive use projects and their perceptions of new tools and interior-related foci for these projects. The outcomes of Phase One to date have been presented to a statewide Cooperative Extension Service meeting, a targeted Cooperative Extension training session, and the Interior Design Educators Council international conference. The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, the University of Kentucky Faculty Research Support program, the National Main Street Center, and the Kentucky Main Street Program provided varying types of support for Phase One. Phase Two expands upon the information gathered during Phase One to implement changes to standard practices of design professionals in the adaptive use of buildings. Adapting historic interior spaces for new contemporary uses is a major challenge to successfully completing a community's renaissance. Communities encourage the adaptive use of vacant downtown buildings to minimize suburban sprawl's effects on service infrastructures, revitalize traditional districts, strengthen economic vitality, and protect their distinctive character. Local planning regulations rarely consider the impact of adaptive use on historic interior spaces. The creation of guidelines and educational materials focusing on such aspects as codes, accessibility, materials, finishes, and character-defining features of historic interior spaces will increase awareness and protection for these spaces. The adaptive use and protection of historic interior spaces suffers without systematic guidelines to advise property owners about design. During the rehabilitation process, the character-defining interior spaces of historic structures deserve the same level of attention as exterior features. Federal, state, and local preservation guidelines rarely address interior spaces beyond suggesting technical methods for conserving historic interior finishes and materials. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings provide one of preservation's most effective tools for educating the public and property owners regarding the cultural value of historic structures and landscapes. Interiorspecific guidelines will increase public perception and awareness of historic interior spaces as significant cultural accomplishments.
Effective start/end date7/1/056/30/06


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