The Lawson Building is an adaptive re-use project. Seeking to reinvest in built infrastructure as opposed to creating our own, we selected an overlooked merchandise warehouse in the industrial center of Roanoke to convert into 22 residential apartments and three live/work, commercial/retail spaces.

We sought to restore the dynamism and vitality of the landscape by re-introducing a variety of indigenous plants and cultivating space for community-based vegetable gardens and outdoor recreation.

In terms of design, we sought to integrate the residential apartments with its surroundings, built and otherwise. We hope to create and sustain a dialogue between the past and the future, the industrial and the natural, the urban and the suburban.

We focused our development and building strategies around minimizing our impact on the natural environment. Our efforts included installing a pervious pavement system, planting shade trees, recycling building materials, using low-e thermally insulated glass, installing reflective roof membranes, insulating the roof system with material that has both a good thermal rating and lower levels of toxicity, and installing innovative filters to strain pollutants from storm run-off. Naturally, we provide recycling opportunities for all tenants.

Is this a LEED Certified development? No. The Lawson Building East is not LEED Certified for two principal reasons:

  1. The process of LEED certification—including implementing the practices and procedures they recommend—is very expensive. One of the primary goals of the Lawson building development is to provide affordable living opportunities downtown. We could not do this and conform to all of the LEED recommendations.
  2. Many of the LEED recommendations conflict with the preservation of a historic structure: leaving brick walls exposed, for example, reduces the thermal efficiency of a unit. This practice is, however, required by the National Park Service.

Nonetheless, we applaud the LEED certification process and look forward to a day when developments can be both affordable and meet their standards.