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Extreme makeover

Pat Patera

Reality shows such as “Extreme Makeover” and “20 Years Younger” remodel people.

Now a Reno architect is creating a vision of makeovers on a grander scale.

Ken Bartlett, principal at Bartlett Architecture in Reno, saw potential in the faded ladies of Fourth Street on his daily commute from Spanish Springs and asked himself, “What if?”

What if that building were remodeled? If that vacant lot were built upon? If that plain stucco box were refurbished?

The answers are posted on a newly developed Web site, ImaginingYourWorld.com.

It’s a site where real estate brokers, developers and contractors can go to see before-and-after pictures of existing properties or how parcels of vacant land might support proposed new buildings.

“It also assists brokers in showing potential buyers what property or buildings could look like with some renovation,” says Bartlett.

The Web site serves a second purpose: Marketing.

“It’s got the potential to help brokers sell properties,” he says, “and maybe down the road bring me work.”

When Bartlett calls brokers to acquaint them with his project, they typically want to kick it around with the property owner before agreeing to anything.

“It’s a conversation starter,” he says.

Last week Bartlett met with an informal group of 25 commercial real estate agents to talk about the concept, and he plans to speak about the project at industry group luncheons.

“It’s probably a curse to see latent beauty,” he says. But see it he does, and he adds a few new makeovers to the Web site every month.

The most difficult part of the project, he says, isn’t conceptualization, but shading issues getting the shadows of surrounding structures to drape correctly over a building that doesn’t yet exist.

Each rendering takes four to eight hours to create, using SketchUp and PhotoShop imaging software. So far, nine renderings are posted on the site, which went up this month.

Makeover candidates include the former RESCO equipment building at 750 E. Fifth St. Inspired by the panoramic views of the city from its turret top, Bartlett designed a scaffold-enclosed rooftop and remodeled the upper cube into office space.

A former brewery at 900 E. Fourth St. also enjoyed a makeover. “That plant has been for sale forever because it’s such a huge space,” says Bartlett. His redesign broke the monolith into separate storefronts.

“I always travel with a camera,” says Bartlett. In deciding which buildings to beautify, he looks for ease of making a renovation.

That dovetails with the material world of brick and mortar. When a client asks for remodeling ideas, he says,

“They ask how to make a project look new without spending a fortune.

“Since remodeling the Moana West Annex project we get a lot of press on impactful change,” he adds.

Bartlett Architecture, founded six years ago, employs four. It’s made South Virginia Plaza its headquarters for the past four years. And, a couple of years ago, it won the contract to remodel that center.


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