Preservation probabilities : a quantitative analysis of Austin's historic gas station stock




DeAngelo, Jamie Marie

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Though former gas stations are often environmentally challenged, they are frequently reused by small and local businesses because they are common and inexpensive. For this reason, many structures continue being maintained past their expected expiration date. This type of small scale, do-it-yourself preservation of former gas stations (despite strong incentives for their demolition) occurs regularly, and is important to document for several reasons. The first is that this particular type of building is rapidly disappearing from the American landscape; the second is that it occurs without any explicit preservation incentives for gas stations at the city level, which cannot be said of many other types of historic preservation; the third is that there are simply not enough studies on the successful adaptive reuse and continued maintenance of existing buildings, let alone categories of mass-produced buildings, through time. To avoid contributing to an endless cycle of construction waste, it is important to spend time thinking about how we can reuse aspects of our urban environment that are already in place, particularly common and low road buildings such as gas stations. This text uses underground storage tank data to identify and categorize existing historic gas stations (1910-1965). It analyzes survival and reuse rates of this building type, and identifies connections between locational and site variables and four categories of use: continued existence as a gas station, vacancy or abandonment, auto-related adaptive reuse, and other types of adaptive reuse. These relationships are explored through statistical testing. The overall goal of the paper is to provide data that can aid in policy formation and programmatic planning for these sites. There are three key findings in this paper: 1 There are indeed statistically significant relationships between a building’s reuse type and its location and site properties 2. Age is a strong predictor of both building existence and reuse type 3. As in other US cities, gas stations are heavily reused by local businesses.


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