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McGill Project Receives Buncombe County’s 2018 Griffin Award

14 Riverside Project Won Best Adaptive Reuse Project of 2018.

McGill Associates and Mathews Architecture teamed to complete an adaptive reuse project at 14 Riverside Drive in Asheville, North Carolina. On May 24, 2018, the project team was awarded a 2018 Griffin Award by the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County. These annual awards highlight projects and individuals who further historic preservation efforts in the County. This project had a rich history and multiple challenges to overcome, but regardless, the team persevered and the project won the 2018 Griffin Award for the best Adaptive Reuse project in Buncombe County.

Located in the River Arts District of Asheville, 14 Riverside Drive was a vacant building for about 50 years before construction on the project began. The goal was to renovate the building to become available for public use, but there were specific difficulties with this structure.

The main challenge was to modernize the building systems in a manner that did not take away from the historical significance of the structure. The space was originally used by Asheville Gas Works, then became the storage room for the Carolina Power and Light Company, before it was handed over to PSNC Energy.

Another obstacle was that all utilities had to be above flood plain, which was eight feet high up the wall – almost near the roof of the building. The team had to create a platform for the power panels, water heater, and other associated utilities that had to be hidden and blend in, historically, with the building. The electrical service also had to be mounted at roof-level, so the team decided to install a caged latter for access to the electrical service area.

Robert (Bob) Wiggins, Principal and Mechanical Engineering Manager of McGill Associates, shared: “There were plenty of problems to solve, starting with when we found out that the existing rest room was straight piped to the creek running under the building.”

The solution the team delivered resulted in a new building with radiant heat that allows the owner to use it as an open-air event facility for the City of Asheville, and that provides much-needed public restrooms to the area. McGill team members – Bob Wiggins, John Carter, Carlos Ford, and Ed Cooper – were all engaged in this project effort.

The team’s hard work on this project demonstrates the ability to rehabilitate historic structures for continued use in the present and the future. The project resulted in an arts and cultural event center that is now a part of the River Arts District, instead of being an eye sore and a hazard, as it was previously.

To learn more about the project’s history and see project photos, watch the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County’s award winner video here: https://youtu.be/spynJV1p_eg?t=126