- Adaptive reuse has emerged as an important strategy in the conservation and preservation of post-industrial buildings and landscapes. The history of the Engenho Central de Piracicaba, a former sugar factory and refinery that operated from 1881 to 1974, provides an example of the complex issues involved in adaptive reuse. Since the 1980s the site and its fate have been the subject of political controversies and stewardship debates, resulting in several rehabilitation plans by renowned Brazilian architects. Among the most recent developments have been a theatre, which opened in 2012, and a Museum of Sugar, currently under construction. Through an examination of specific design approaches suggested for the rehabilitation of the Engenho Central, this paper addresses the consequences of the disappearance of industrial buildings in general and examines the role played by architects and planners in defining the contribution of industrial heritage to contemporary (and future) urban identity.