12B — July 29 - August 11, 2016 — Architects & Engineers — Owners, Developers & Managers — M id A tlantic
Real Estate Journal
A rchitects & E ngineers
e know increasing hous ing dens i ty in urban cores is By Brian Ward, Niles Bolton Associates Designing with what’s left: Finding inspiration for unique sites and creating value in the City W rectly to Philadelphia’s transit system.
This project’s site is between I-76, the Mainline rail lines, and the Schuykill River just north of Philadelphia on the grounds of what was an in- dustrial steel mill through the 19th and 20th centuries. It is a perfect storm of complex condi- tions. We shaped a five-story loft building for O’Neill Prop- erties Group containing 275 units in a series of connected bars all sitting on a steel park- ing podium that elevates the units above any possible river flooding. An existing trestle across the river was renovated and now connects residents and emergency vehicles di-
The architectural design was able to overcome all the site constraints and create an exciting place to live that is linked to the city and to nature via the riverfront trails that connect many Philadelphia communities over dozens of miles. What once was aban- doned land now is a vital part of the river’s renewal. The building is organized to face the river and the historic, picturesque Manayunk neigh- borhood, and nearly every unit avoids the highway and rail to the south. The design alludes to the township’s mill build- ings along the river’s indus- trial past, its stepped massing containing many loft units with large walk-out terraces. Palisades in Sandy Springs, Atlanta, GA How do you design 420 apartment units and 12,000 s/f of retail and commercial space to coexist on a site with what was once a suburban office park built just outside I-285, Atlanta’s perimeter ring road and quintessential traffic nightmare? You create more connections for arterial streets. Nature abhors sur- face parking, so you cover it with your new buildings. You design your buildings to hide parking decks by embracing them. Atlanta is recognizing that smaller blocks enable streets to be more complete, allowing cyclists and pedes- trians to feel safe there. A new mid-block break allowed us to front the new block and generate a new urbanism from suburbia for our client Pollack Shores: we wrapped the two existing parking decks with 5 levels of residential units over ground level commercial space, and hid two additional decks as well (this is Atlanta, and even with the concept of shared parking, the project required more spaces). And we gave the overall site a new front door. A sense of place and arrival. Creativity and thinking harder will have to replace business as usual and static thinking if we are to rein- vigorate new and intricate patterns within the existing fabric of today’s cities. Can you think of any left-over spaces in your neighborhood that should be reinvented? Brian Ward is the di- rector of design at Niles Bolton Associates. n
a good idea: when more people can l i ve c l oser t o w h e r e t h e y c a n work, neigh- b o r h o o d s thrive; their residents are happier with their quality of life; Value increases. I often hear all the best sites are taken. But sometimes I encounter a site in a city that needs only some creative vi- Brian Ward
Righter’s Ferry in Lower Merion Township, Philadelphia, PA
sion to connect it back to its surrounding community. Two case studies in my studio at Niles Bolton Associates are successful examples of how to design high-density hous- ing on sites that appear to be
great locations but are also leftover, seemingly unusable, or otherwise not perfectly ideal at first glance. Righter’s Ferry in Lower Merion Township, Philadelphia, PA
We Build Value Through Design.
Landmark College Park, MD
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