Transforming an Old Mall into Micro Apartments

With an adaptive reuse approach, Northeast Collaborative Architects transformed one of America’s oldest malls into energy-efficient, contemporary micro apartments.

Northeast Collaborative Architects revitalized a historic mall in Providence,Rhode Island, by turning it into 48 micro lofts and 17 micro retail spaces, while still respecting the historic design of the arcade, built in 1828. The furnished one-bedroom units come equipped with storage, bathrooms, andkitchens. They range in size from 21 to 42 m2, and are accompanied by communalamenities.

In addition, the Arcade’s sustainable design elements include high-effi ciencygas units, new double-hung windows, a new insulated roof that reduces thebuilding’s cooling requirements and minimizes the urban heat island effect, and a central skylight that provides extensive daylight. Monthly rents start at$550 per month, and the waiting list of tenants exceeds 1,000 people.

Relevance of solution

More than half of the current building stock in the world will still be standing in 2050, with thisfi gure being closer to three-quarters for OECD countries.1 Maximizing the existing built environment,Northeast Collaborative Architects’ specialized approach to preservation and adaptivereuse is creating new, aff ordable, and energy-effi cient ways of housing, helping to decreasebuildings’ CO2 emissions.

Triple Bottom Line


All appliances in the micro apartments are ENERGY STAR certified, and the carpeting is 100% recyclable.


The micro lofts provide affordable housing in an urban area by using an existing building for a new purpose.


The revitalization of a downtown landmark has sparked a renaissance in the business district withmore buildings being renovated.


  1. World Business Council for Sustainable Development.“Energy Efficiency in Buildings”. (2009.)