expertise > Repositioning
Eaton House a repositioned historic building


The repositioning of an existing building is an increasingly popular strategic approach to adding significant value to a given property - whether the intention is to retain or attract new tenants or accommodate different uses. According to the 2022 AIA Firm Survey Report, 48% of the profession’s current design work involves the reconstruction of existing buildings, reflecting a substantial increase from 34% in 2005. Compared to new construction, the repositioning of existing projects can be more attractive to building owners and developers for not only their potential to achieve sustainable decarbonization goals but also for offering shorter permitting and project delivery times as well as minimizing disruption to the neighborhood. In reimaging an existing building, potential considerations can include engaging an expanded audience, modernization of its design and infrastructure, and providing alternative uses for currently inactive spaces.

As post-pandemic city centers evolve and begin to redefine themselves, existing assets can be repositioned to ideally be more suited to the specific urban fabric of their neighborhood. Expanding the uses or amenities of a building or creating adjacencies that complement each other are potential opportunities to create dynamic and active urban environments. For example, incorporating a healthcare center with a healthy-focused juice bar, wellness studio or gym creates a well-rounded destination. This diversity of uses fosters an animated and lively community and expands the site’s social activity level throughout the entire day and week.

Built campus allows for mobility and recreation

Buildings designed 50 or 100 years ago, while still sound, are often unable to meet the demands of the technological expectations of the modern tenant. Personal mobility and seamless access to technology are priorities in creating a modernized building to work, live and play. Design that encourages wellness and movement through open stairs, integrated greenspace and access to daylight are key interventions to providing healthy and inviting interior environments. The efficient modernization of infrastructure, mechanical systems and enclosure can augment indoor air quality and user comfort while assuring the building’s resilience and financial viability for generations.

The recent efforts to augment access to public transit, secure bike lanes, pedestrian-only streets and urban densification has begun to alleviate car traffic in cities across the country. With this cultural shift, parking areas within buildings have become underutilized spaces that can be optimally repurposed for modern uses. For owners and developers, the innovative repurposing of these parking areas can potentially accommodate immersive media spaces, data centers or new tenant amenities. Bike hubs, commuter lockers, concierge services, or ride-share drop-offs can be integrated into the arrival and departure experiences of these refreshed buildings to support the expectations of the next-generation of commuters.

Biker commutes in Kendall Square
Le Coeur sets a best-in-class standard for commercial office and retail space

Located along the Königsallee, Düsseldorf’s preeminent retail and business address, Le Coeur sets a best-in-class standard for commercial office and retail space within this central business district.

Pickard Chilton’s award-winning building design for Northwestern Mutual’s Tower and Commons was completed in 2017. With nearly 2,000 employees transitioning in the coming years from their Franklin campus to downtown Milwaukee, the company wanted to welcome them with a facility comparable in quality and features to the Tower and Commons.

As such, Northwestern Mutual is undertaking the comprehensive renovation and upgrade of its North Office Building. By sustainably repurposing the existing foundations and tower structure, the design will minimize the project’s overall carbon footprint to deliver a larger yet more efficient and comfortable facility to best serve the needs and wellbeing of their employees and clients.

Street view of the PG&E historic complex

Architects and real-estate developers are pioneering concepts to entice workers who will permanently split their time between home and office. Here are the innovations you’ll see in coming years.


Workplaces that look like your living room; flexible, multiuse spaces; outdoor terraces. Today’s new hybrid work styles are reshaping the office buildings of tomorrow.

Leading architects and real-estate developers are pioneering concepts aimed at workers who are splitting their time between home and office, and they predict these innovations will become mainstream in the years to come.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal 

Timing was everything in Northwestern Mutual’s decision to spend more than $500 million to rebuild its North Office Building, located at 818 E. Mason St. on its downtown Milwaukee headquarters campus.

Present at Thursday’s press conference was architect Jon Pickard, principal at New Haven, Connecticut-based Pickard Chilton. The company is one of two architectural firms involved in designing the new North Office Building.

Pickard explained what helped guide him during the design process, and at the heart of the renovation is a desire to allow employees to reconnect with nature, which will in turn boost their health and happiness.

“I think one of the things that guides us is the fact that people do best when they’re in touch with nature. One of the things we’re going to bring to the new North Office Building is access to that (nature),” said Pickard.

Included in the renovation plans are connecting structures and a pedestrian plaza on North Cass Street. Workspaces will also be redesigned for more collaborative work.

“My north star is how do we create a best-in-class experience not just for the people that are here on a day-to-day basis, but also the community,” said Pickard.

Read more at Biz Times 

Downtown Milwaukee is getting a $500 million upgrade. Northwestern Mutual is closing its office space in Franklin and redeveloping its North Office Building on E. Mason Street in downtown Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE - Downtown Milwaukee is getting a $500 million upgrade. Northwestern Mutual is closing its office space in Franklin and redeveloping its North Office Building on E. Mason Street in downtown Milwaukee. 

Company leaders said this investment will transform the company and downtown.

Read more at Fox 6 Now 

Street view of the PG&E historic complex

Encompassing a full city block in downtown San Francisco between Market and Mission Street, the PG&E site comprises development components that include the 200 Mission office tower redevelopment, historic complex renovation and new 1.25-acre park to complete Hines’ vision. Upon completion, the reimagined projects will breathe new life into the entire transit-oriented block.

Repositioned to be a building of its time while respectful of its historic context, the design reuses much of the original structural frame of the existing 1970s building, re-proportions the façade structure to reflect the original five terrace houses, and re-envisions the exterior enclosure in linear coursed stone, clear vision glass, and handmade cast glass brick. 


Proposed entry to 1633 Broadway, a multi-family development

Pickard Chilton was recently named a finalist for Metals in Construction magazine’s international design competition.

For the 2023 edition of its popular annual design competition, the magazine invited participants to explore the conversion of a large outdated commercial office tower to an innovative residential use. The aim was to address and draw attention to the concurrent trends that office vacancy rates are at an all-time high and that the environmental carbon impact of the construction industry is appropriately being further scrutinized.

As its subject tower, the brief identified a 1970’s New York City office building, the Paramount Plaza, located at 1633 Broadway in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. The brief contemplated the reconfiguration of the large office floor plates to residential units as well as a reimagined and enhanced ground-level experience which would consist of various retail spaces, a large public plaza, and two existing Broadway theaters: The Gershwin and the Circle in The Square.

Transforming the tower program from commercial to residential presented the unique opportunity to consolidate and reduce the footprint of the building’s core infrastructure. However, daylight analysis of the resulting floor plan demonstrated the primary challenge: the center of the tower receives inadequate natural daylight for residential use. In addition, the significant lease depths of the existing commercial floor plan created challenges to providing market-appropriate unit layouts.

To resolve these issues, floor plates were strategically carved to allow ample natural daylight to reach the center of the building and the enclosure wall was offset from the perimeter of the floor. The resulting floor layout provides the unprecedented and unique opportunity for every unit to have a spacious exterior balcony, or their own “urban back porch”. 

After examining numerous options for the best use of the center of floor plate, the final design proposed “The Hub,” an amenities-rich experience that rises through the new core of the entire tower to create a vibrant social spine for the building’s residential community.

With more publicly-oriented spaces and amenities located within the podium, specific fee-based venues and activities can be opened to the greater public to provide nominal income opportunities to offset potential rent increases for building residents.

Furthermore, the dramatic post-Covid work-from-home shift has significantly impacted both workplace and home environments. As such, the tower’s new residences are generous, allowing ample space for families to feel comfortable yet have rooms that can serve as private work areas.

At the ground level, direct access to the subway system below is celebrated and announced with a series of large glass doors that open, eliminating the boundary between the plaza and the dynamic space within. Access to the subway, a grocery store, a community center, and other public amenities activate the site and continuously draw in visitors. Lastly, The Gershwin and Circle in The Square theaters are enhanced, bringing additional excitement to the block and district. Their entrances are accentuated with new entrance canopies to attract and welcome the public.

The exterior view of Eaton House located in Dublin, Ireland, designed with 1970 building’s concrete frame.

Located within a rich tapestry of residences, small businesses, parks, and embassies in Dublin’s historic D4 district, Eaton House is an adaptive reuse design that repositions the 1970 building’s concrete structure.

We are passionate about our clients, our work, and the positive impact of every building we design. If you have a difficult design challenge, contact us to create a solution that realizes your vision.