As companies depart suburban office parks and antiquated buildings for more urban digs, there sometimes isn’t much use for the properties they leave behind.
Enter “hackable” buildings.
Embraced by the architecture firm Gensler, the term applies to buildings that were built for one use but – because of changing market demands or preferences – need to be reworked for another.
Gensler architects used the moniker when submitting a radical concept for redeveloping the J. Edgar Hoover Building to a 2012 design competition. The Brutalist-style FBI headquarters was built to include a firing range and massive storage area for fingerprint records, neither of which is still needed on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Their idea to chop the building into interesting spaces that could accommodate a series of new uses (among them big-box retail and a rooftop soccer field) was intentionally outlandish, and it had the desired effect of prompting more realistic ideas for re-imagining buildings.