Page E1.2 . 28 March 2012                     
ArchitectureWeek - Context Department
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New Urbanism Now

David Brower Center, Berkeley, CalforniaSafeway No. 2912, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, MassachusettsSCAD Museum of Art, Savanna, Georgia | Lafitte Housing, New Orleans, LouisianaWyvernwood Mixed-Use, Los Angeles, CaliforniaVerkykerskop Farming Town, South AfricaVision for Berrien Springs, Michigan | Town Center, Mount Rainier, MarylandAnd more...

 
David Brower Center • Berkeley, Calfornia

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Architect Daniel Solomon led the design team for the LEED Platinum-certified David Brower Center, an office building that, together with the adjacent Oxford Plaza mixed-use apartment building, occupies a one-acre (0.4-hectare) site across from UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, California.
Photo: © Tim Griffith Extra Large Image

The David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza apartments are independently owned, but were designed in concert by a team led by architect Daniel Solomon, one of the cofounders of the Congress for the New Urbanism.

The four-story, 50,000-square-foot (4,600-square-meter) David Brower Center contains offices on its upper three floors, and public and common-use spaces at ground level, including a 180-seat theater, gallery space, and an organic-food restaurant.

Environmental considerations were intrinsic to design of the David Brower Center, from its configuration onsite to its detailing. A prominent awning structure around the top of the building supports photovoltaic panels that provide 40% of the building's electricity and also serve as sun shades for the south facade. All office spaces are daylit, and low-energy mechanical systems provide heating and cooling through a radiant system in the exposed concrete ceilings. Other green features include operable windows, recycled-content materials, low-pressure ventilation via raised floors, and rainwater harvesting for irrigation and toilet flushing.

The building's architectural design responds to its neighbors. For example, the concrete colonnade of the art-deco Edwards Stadium, located across the street, is echoed in the center's exposed concrete structural columns.

The adjacent Oxford Plaza apartments are intended as workforce housing for downtown Berkeley, serving households ranging from 20% to 60% of the area median income (AMI). The six-story, 97-unit building contains a mix of unit sizes, from studios to three-bedrooms. Subsets of units are set aside for vulnerable populations, such as very low-income people with HIV/ AIDS. Five percent of the units are fully accessible and all units are designed to be ADA-adaptable.

In addition to indoor common spaces and a small courtyard, the building has a roof deck with a children's play area and views of San Francisco Bay. Behind the street-fronting retail spaces, a compact parking-lift garage provides 0.41 spaces per unit for residents, while a separate public parking garage is located beneath the development.

The overall project exemplifies numerous principles of New Urbanism. It is infill development, located one block from a BART regional transit station and various bus stops, and within easy walking distance of diverse urban resources, such as shops, schools, the city's main public library, a park, a YMCA, and a community college, in addition to UC Berkeley, a key local employer. The development also supports a demographic mix of residents, as well as mixing residential, commercial, and institutional uses.

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The Brower Center's ground floor is devoted primarily to public spaces, including a two-story lobby with a gallery. Along with the adjacent apartments, the center was one of nine projects recognized by the Congress for the New Urbanism in its 2012 Charter Awards.
Photo: © Tim Griffith Extra Large Image

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The ground floor of the Brower Center also contains an auditorium, while the upper floors comprise rental office space available to environmental and social-justice organizations at below-market rates.
Photo: © Tim Griffith Extra Large Image

 
Safeway No. 2912 • Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

In the historic Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., architect Torti Gallas and Partners designed a project that might seem at first like an oxymoron: a large supermarket that strengthens the urban fabric.

The new Safeway store No. 2912 replaces a previous Safeway building that had followed a typical car-oriented suburban design, with a large parking lot separating the store from the street. The new two-story building places the supermarket on the second floor, above smaller, street-fronting retail stores, with parking accommodated in a garage and deck at the rear.

The building reinforces the street edge, its facade subdivided into bays that echo the varied, smaller-scale facades of rowhouses without imitating them directly. Red brick relates to the neighborhood's older buildings, while sun shades and divided-lite windows add a contemporary touch to the visual rhythms.

With a prominent two-story corner piece providing access to the grocery store, the building's design expressly considers shoppers arriving by foot or public transit, and contributes to the walkability of this urban corridor.

The store architect was Rounds VanDuzer Architects.

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A new LEED-certified Safeway store in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., was designed by Torti Gallas and Partners.
Photo: Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc. Extra Large Image

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Ground-floor plan drawing for the new Georgetown Safeway building. The grocery store is located on the upper level, along with a parking deck, while the ground floor contains a parking garage located behind street-level retail rental spaces.
Image: Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc. Extra Large Image

 
Cambridge Public Library • Cambridge, Massachusetts

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The main branch of the Cambridge Public Library includes a recent 76,700-square-foot (7,130-square-meter) addition with a double-glass south-facing facade. Designed by William Rawn Associates, the addition is attached to the east end of the original Richardsonian Romanesque library building, which was restored and renovated with associate architect Ann Beha Architects.
Photo: © Robert Benson Extra Large Image

Another project recognized at the scale of the block, street, and building is the renovated and expanded Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was featured in ArchitectureWeek No. 455 and has since received LEED Silver certification. The project demonstrates many New Urbanist principles, such as the preservation and renewal of a historic building (the existing 1888 library building by Van Brunt & Howe) and the physical definition of public spaces as places of shared use.

The original main library and new 76,700-square-foot (7,130-square-meter) addition together define the northeast side of a public park, which was expanded through the creation of an intensive green roof atop the library's new underground parking garage. The addition's double-skin curtain wall transmits daylight and helps maintain visual connectivity between the library and park while efficiently maintaining thermal comfort inside the building.

William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. designed the library renovation and expansion, working with associate architect Ann Beha Architects.

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Ground-floor plan drawing of the Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Photo: William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc. Extra Large Image

 
SCAD Museum of Art • Savanna, Georgia

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Design sketches for the SCAD Museum show the key strategies used to integrate the existing structures with the new construction.
Image: Courtesy CNU Extra Large Image

What if a historic building has decayed too badly to renovate?

For the Savannah College of Art and Design's newly expanded SCAD Museum of Art in Savanna, Georgia, the design team opted to retain the ruins of an 1850s rail freight warehouse, combining them with contemporary glass and steel to create a composite facade. The new building provides 65,000 square feet of additional space for the museum, which previously occupied only the adjacent, much-smaller building — the former Central of Georgia Railway headquarters from the 1860s, now integrated into the larger museum complex.

One challenge the project team faced was to create a pedestrian-friendly environment along the north side of the site. Located in a former industrial district at the western edge of Savannah, the warehouse had once presented an 800-foot- (240-meter-) long face to the street. To break down that mass, the main museum building was divided at its midpoint into two sections, bisected by an atrium and an 86-foot- (26-meter-) tall glass-and-steel tower. The integrated ruins help enliven this side of the building: brick archways serve as art display cases visible from the street.

The adjacent streetscape was also redesigned. Sidewalks were widened and tree wells were created within the parking lane, making the traffic lanes feel more compact. In addition, the design team received a complete variance from the city's off-street parking requirements. On the south side of the building, where a parking lot would otherwise have been located, a public garden was created.

The project leadership and design contributors included SCAD executives along with design architect Sottile & Sottile, architect of record Lord, Aeck & Sargent, and associate architect Dawson Architects.   >>>

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The SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, incorporates the remaining brick walls of a collapsing antebellum railroad warehouse in its new addition (shown), which is almost four times the size of the existing museum facility, the neoclassical former headquarters of the Central of Georgia Railway.
Image: Dennis Burnett/ Courtesy SCAD Extra Large Image

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Site plan drawing of the SCAD Museum of Art, designed by Sottile & Sottile, with Lord, Aeck & Sargent and Dawson Architects.
Photo: © Tim Griffith Extra Large Image

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