Firm: Cooper Carry, Inc.
Client: Building Hope and MCN Build
Location: Washington, DC
The Benning School Transformation: If you only had 40 days and a run-down school building, what could you do? Designers transformed a 1970s-era school without walls into an inspirational learning environment for two fledgling charter schools in a long-neglected neighborhood of Washington, DC. Chaotic open spaces are now creative, playful classrooms filled with colorful energy.
From the cavernous, dead spaces of the former 70,000-sq.-ft. school, designers created individual classrooms, a library, a reception area, and administrative spaces for each school. The entire project was designed and constructed within a 40-day window, in time for the start of school in September 2008. With this difficult timeframe, the designers still met low budget expectations. The $2.8-million project cost included a $1 million roof replacement, leaving few funds for renovations, FF&E, code evaluation, MEP, and ADA and life safety updates.
Designers used inexpensive materials such as vinyl tile, but created a vibrant floor pattern to minimize the visual length of the corridors. The corridor walls are angled to form unexpected spaces; the angled walls are a striking counterpoint to the linear floor pattern. Preschoolers now peek through whimsical cut-outs in the library walls, which echo round ceiling discs above. Bright accent colors in turquoise, tangerine, yellow, and kiwi green highlight these circular shapes in the library/corridor walls. The colors and retro-inspired pendant fixtures hanging from the discs hearken to the 1960s, an optimistic era for school design.
Designers used standard materials such as gypsum board in sculptural forms to reduce costs without sacrificing design. The window-less concrete structure required a dramatic lighting solution. Designers used clerestory windows and full-height sidelights in all the classrooms to transmit light through the spaces. Cooper Carry chose to spend more money on Collaborative for High Performance Schools compliant lighting rather than expensive finishes, to improve the learning environment and create high performance classrooms.
Clients Building Hope and MCN Build, partnered with the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education to provide facilities that can be leased to start-up charter schools on a revolving basis. The incubator program provides new charter schools with a home during their first five years of operation, when the small number of students they serve makes it difficult to afford commercial space.
Client: ZeroLandfill 2009
Location: Five major markets in Ohio
ZeroLandfill is a beneficial reuse program that supports the supply needs of arts educators and artists while reducing pressure on local landfill capacity. Since 2006, the ZeroLandfill project team has assisted the architectural and interior design community in identifying, diverting from local landfills, and re-purposing back into the community over 300,000 lbs.s of specification samples that hold value for other audiences. As a community of practice, ZeroLandfill projects, inspired by the NE Ohio experience, completed projects in five cities in Ohio in 2009, including Akron, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Toledo. New projects will take shape in 2010 in OH, KY, MN and TN.
As specifiers and designers, BeeDance is often focused on the outcome of their work—the high performance building, the sustainable interior design, the high efficiency mechanical system. Often overlooked, however, is the collective impact that thousands of decisions carry during the process of creating a new space or structure. ZeroLandfill catalogs and addresses this “ledger of choices” with the intent of creating a low impact, beneficial reuse model that can be replicated for all interior design and structural specification materials. According to BeeDance, “Not only is it wise business to deliver healthy high performance spaces, it is wise action to allow each decision along the way to be as restorative as possible.”
The arts and education communities have been the primary recipients of materials collected by the ZeroLandfill project. Materials that one industry may take for granted hold high value for other audiences. Many arts educators report that ever-shrinking materials budgets necessitate stretching their own personal resources to augment educational materials and supply requirements in their classroom. Materials harvested from ZeroLandfill, at no cost, have been integrated into classrooms enhancing classroom projects and providing interdisciplinary learning.
ZeroLandfill is managed with volunteers from the architectural and design firms, manufacturer representatives, and dealerships in each community that hosts the project. Project support donations pay for the hard costs associated with each project site (including supplies, rent, and email marketing). IIDA, ASID and AIA have also supported ZeroLandfill in the various markets.
Firm: Trivers Associates
Client: Big Brothers Big Sisters
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri is the largest tenant in the adaptive reuse of a 1932 structure in the nationally-registered Midtown Historic District of St. Louis. The most prominent corner of the building houses the employee break room (overlooking the St. Louis University campus where many of its mentors attend school), which serves not only as the office lunch room but also as an after-hours fundraising space for Big and Little gatherings.
The goal of the client was to design a space that encourages creativity, energy, and spirit through colorful finishes, and whimsical plays, yet doesn’t come across as elementary or juvenile for the employees who work in the space. Through the use of vibrant colors, different textures, and playful furniture the space not only attracts, inspires, and retains the non-for-profit employees but also gives the Little Brothers and Sisters a place to feel comfortable and safe outside of their homes.
Once a Woolworth store, the lower level lacked much head room and natural light, which became the perfect location for the Bigs’ training room and Big and Little meeting space. Flexible chairs and bean bags, colorful carpet, and translucent barn doors separate the two spaces. Three interview rooms, used to meet with potential mentors, are purposely located in the first floor lobby space, separate from the upper floor office. One interview room, designed as a silo in the lobby, provides an area for graphic history of the building and it’s involvement during the civil rights era.
The building, which sat vacant for years, is now a bright landmark for the Grand Center area, just a block from the St. Louis Fox Theater and St. Louis Symphony, revitalizing a very important historic district.
The location and space has given BBBS a lot of attention, hoping to grow their organization in turn helping the youth of the city. Energy efficient interior lighting, as well as the LED exterior signage lighting, was added to the building for environmental and fiscal reasons for the non-for-profit organization. The architectural work was done at a reduced fee in an effort to support the mission of the organization.
Firm: SERA Architects
Location: Portland, OR
p:ear is a nonprofit in Portland, Oregon, that mentors homeless youth through the tools of education, art, and recreation. In 2006, due to an impending redevelopment of their building, p:ear began fundraising to in order to purchase a space of their own. SERA initiated a collaborative design process to give p:ear a permanent home that would accommodate additional programs and expand the services offered to Portland’s youth.
SERA’s design was born out of p:ear’s mission and dedication to their students. The firm focused on internal, supportive spaces required to provide a comfortable and safe home for the transitional youth, as well as external aspects that provide community outreach.
The public gallery opens to the street, allowing visitors to enter p:ear’s space and interact with the student artists, as well as local artists showing their work. A new glass folding door opens the space to the sidewalk and invites the public in. At the back of the gallery, a recording room doubles as a stage for performances. The private side of the space focuses inward towards the heart of the program, a new kitchen and work space. Adjacent to the kitchen are large work tables, a library, and quiet study space. The program directors are available to students from all areas in their open office on the mezzanine level.
“As a designer, the biggest benefit of doing pro bono work is giving back to our community in the most direct way possible—sharing our design services to those who don't typically have financial access to them,” says SERA. “The design of p:ear’s permanent home has made them more visible to the community, generating a buzz around their programs and welcoming the public in for gallery openings and events.”
SER incorporated salvaged materials from the existing building and specified regional, recycled and low-emitting materials. p:ear’s new space features energy efficient lighting, daylight controls, occupancy sensors, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and an improved HVAC system. The mechanical engineer developed an energy model of the building during the initial design phase to prioritize building envelope improvements and replacement of key mechanical and electrical systems.
Tax credits and grants for some of the improvements made to the building were secured. One hundred percent of SERA’s architectural design services were completed pro bono through the 1% Solution program. Other consultants and the general contractor also donated their services.
Firm: The Bommarito Group
Client: Lance Armstrong Foundation
Location: Austin, TX
The Lance Armstrong Foundation pledged to unite people fighting cancer and to locate their headquarters where the need was greatest. The Foundation found a permanent home in a 1950’s warehouse in East Austin, an underserved community. Previously located in three disconnected leased suites, the Foundation is now united. The building purchase provides financial security, while reinforcing its mission to inspire and empower people affected by cancer by providing access to healthcare resources, information, and services.
Challenged with very little character or natural light, the warehouse was transformed into an energetic space. Opening the facade and roof flooded the interior with natural light. Glulam beams removed during renovation were repurposed as interior architectural elements, and roof decking was re-milled to construct a lively neighborhood of interior spaces including a community room, a family-style kitchen, and work centers. The dynamic angled layout of the interior structures and furniture creates an urban landscape, defined by a main street circulation corridor and neighborhoods for work groups. Park areas provide playful opportunities for impromptu meetings or respite.
Dovetailing with their goal of environmental stewardship, the project achieved LEED Gold certification. The location encourages employees to bike to work and utilize mass transit. Power is supplied by renewable energy sources and native vegetation minimizes environmental impact. These cost-saving solutions allow the Foundation to direct more funds to activities that positively impact the lives of cancer survivors.
Custom conference tables, credenzas, and benches enhance the level of social responsibility. The Board Room table top, crafted from managed wood resources, was designed for function but also to tell a story. Embedded in the table is a yellow stripe and recycled Trek carbon fiber symbolizing the journey through cancer survivorship. The benches were fabricated from a single tree downed in a windstorm. Carbon offsets were purchased to mitigate manufacturing and transportation emissions.
“Donating 10 percent of our design fee expresses, our commitment was to improving the quality of life of those affected by cancer. The design breathes new life and energy into the building and community reflecting the Foundation’s connection to each other, constituents, and community, creating a welcoming and healthy environment to LIVESTRONG,” The Bommarito Group says.