Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Levy, Violette Harrington (2018). Great Adaptations: Shaping the Future of Historic Preservation in Philadelphia through an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Widespread vacancy and long-term disinvestment in neighborhoods across the City of Philadelphia have left historic preservation efforts and opportunities at a crossroads. The properties currently listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places represent only a small fraction of the city’s built fabric that is eligible for such recognition. Therefore, it is crucial for the City of Philadelphia to look towards the future, and develop a strategy that will encourage more opportunities for historic preservation to take place. This thesis asserts that Philadelphia would benefit from enacting an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, which would both allow for and encourage expanded opportunities for historic preservation across the city. This assertion is based on case study analyses of all current ordinances utilized to incentivize adaptive reuse on the city-level in the United States, as well as extant survey data related to Philadelphia’s historic building stock and individual neighborhood characteristics. Through evidence linking adaptive reuse to elevated levels of preservation, sustainability, and neighborhood reinvestment, this thesis contends that an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance would create more opportunities and heightened engagement with historic preservation throughout the City of Philadelphia.


alterations, development standards, development incentives, rehabilitation, sustainability



Date Posted: 11 June 2018