brick. architecture | The challenge included quantitative and spatial analysis of what could be built, strategic direction for highest and best use, and tactical positioning for the best design outcomes.
The project included four midblock parcels, some of which fronted a landscaped pedestrian right of way. Parcel A was straddled by another property owner’s holdings, and Parcel D was a smaller holding located a few hundred yards down the block.
The initial goal would be to figure out what was basically a three dimensional puzzle. How to approach buildable area and parking requirements, while considering the best building-site relationships, and configurations for most economical constructability, architectural opportunity, circulation and access, and public space integration.
Meanwhile, I would create a proposal that would allow the clients to triangulate zoning requirements, parking tradeoffs, and construction & real estate market trends to determine the highest and best use for the site.
A code review and site analysis established primary drivers and general principles for iterating schemes.
I put together a series of options that allowed the client to visualize the implications of the project drivers that I identified, and proposed a family of development strategies that could be mixed and matched.
This scheme was the overall favored direction. The client responded strongly to the public space concept and wanted to move forward using Parcel B as a test case for a more detailed building proposal.
When pros and cons of use cases were presented, laboratory was a clear winner. Lab space fit squarely within municipal priorities, had an achievable parking ratio, and was a favorable match for market conditions.
I began a document that summarized my research and analysis of program and building requirements for lab buildings that informed the proposal, and formed the basis for a final deliverable.
I came up with three building orientations that hit the max buildable area allowable on site, had typical lease spans for labs, and formed different relationships with the site.
In the end the clear winner was the ‘L’. It had the simplest integration with underground parking, the most straightforward lease spans for a likely single tenant use, and what turned out to be the most compelling idea about outdoor space.
I imagined the ‘L’ scheme as comprising two parts. One long primary volume that would be the workhorse, housing a really efficient and simple interpretation of the laboratory program, with a smaller concentrated “annex” that would house a combination of indoor and outdoor circulation, and create an opportunity for the kind of integrated circulation workspaces and amenities I had documented.
This kept the primary “lab” volume maximally flexible and its structure super simple. while concentrating design dollars in the “annex”.
By setting the building up with maximally desirable leasable space for the intended use, a simple structure, and little wasted space in efficient parking configurations, construction resources could be maximally focused on more visible aspects of the design that would be most impactful to users.
The east-facing annex is clad with a two-part vertical fin system whose inner component is deepest when directly shading enclosed areas of the building.
The simpler lab volume is clad with aluminum panels and yellow-highlighted recessed window frames, forming a clean exterior plane and an inverse of the rhythm of the fin system on the annex facade when viewed obliquely.
The schematic test fits show the core, amenity, circulation spaces, and integration with the greenway concentrated in the annex.