East Village Apartments Update

Turning the Corner

The East Village master plan is well under way with 75% of construction on the phase one apartment building complete.  Finishing touches on the brick and stucco envelope as well as installation of balcony railings, balcony deck material, metal facias and architectural lighting will bring exterior work to a conclusion just in time for cold weather conditions. Major progress is being made on interior finishes and painting with carpeting and millwork almost complete on the third and fourth floors.

Window Seat

One of the key elements of our early design concept was a focus on views from living spaces within the apartments out to the surrounding built environment.  This called for oversized window openings with operable panels a bit more advanced than standard double hung units.  Although it was a major fight through value engineering sessions to preserve this element of the design, we feel the final outcome was well worth the effort.  Even with the separate development of a parking garage along the western edge of our site we were able to preserve vistas to the horizon as illustrated below.

View From 4th Floor - Behind Glass
View From 4th Floor - Open Window

The Guild…Update

The good folks at rw/2 sent us an update on the companies that will inhabit the space upon completion of construction.  They also launched a nice “coming soon” page for the event space, check it out at theguildkc.com…classy as always.

The Guild…Rush Wade/2 Studios

Just east of McGee Street in the East Crossroads District of Downtown Kansas City, MO, there’s a rich sub-culture of artists, craftsman and design professionals that have formed a consortium of sorts; banding together to support a budding design oriented community.  At the forefront of this movement Rush Wade/2 Studios commissioned crossroads native and designer/fabricator Dale Frommelt of Egg Designs and Pendulum Studio to collaborate on the adaptive reuse of a very unique 12,000 square foot  building located at 16th and Locust.  The building consists of a 6,000 square foot barrel vault brick structure adjacent to an additional 6,000 square foot prefabricated metal structure with multiple slab elevations.  The intended new use for the buildings will include an event space (“The Guild”), photography shooting floor, and office/studio space for Rush Wade/2.  In addition to the existing building renovation, Pendulum, and Egg have started collaborating on plans to develop three adjacent lots across the alley on Cherry Street also owned by Rush Wade/2 that will be an “off-grid” outdoor green space and beer garden (“The Guild Gardens”).

Early Composite Sketch - North Building
Early Section Concept - North Building

Rebirth of Cool…No Need To Build New

In response to questions about why they didn’t build a new building, Co-Owner Lindsey Rush stated: “There’s something really cool about an older building that has outlived its original purpose.  There is a level of craftsmanship, detail and scale in old buildings that unfortunately is very rare these days, partly due to cost of materials, but also because current building codes make it almost impossible to replicate.  The simple elegance of the bow-string trusses in our south building would be four times as large if we designed them from scratch today.”

While the vintage exterior facade and interior structure contribute to the overall character of the buildings, the material palette chosen by the Ownership group and design team that consists of reclaimed lumber, white subway tile, and exposed steel columns and beams creates an undeniable contrast between old and new.  The angular geometries of the new interior program continues the contrasting dialogue and reflects the creative and forward thinking style of the Owners; simple, clean, and down to earth with an edge.

Construction is currently underway and set to be complete by October of this year.  The images below document our progress with demolition – we’ll add more images as construction continues.

The Normal, IL Corn Crib Revisited

Natural Birth – From Lines to Final Design

If you’ve never designed a building that’s actually been built, the closest thing I can liken this process to is the birth and rearing of a child.  While in most cases you had a great deal of fun making the baby – there’s always that anxious anticipation that exists while you wait nine months for it to finally reveal itself to the world.  Prior to the birth of my first son I remember constantly wondering: what’s he going to look like? What are people going to say about him? Is he going to be healthy…with all his fingers and toes? Am I even worthy of the privilege of being a parent?  The reality of the matter is there’s quite a few variables that contribute to how things will ultimately turn out – some in our favor and others that challenge us as individuals.  Either way as parents we learn to shoulder that responsibility and forget about excuses.  As a father of three (two boys and one girl), I can truthfully say that each of my children are unique with their own little quirks and temperaments; what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other, and they certainly test my patience from time to time…well, actually on a daily basis.  Be that as it may, in my eyes they are adorable – I’d do absolutely anything for them and although the existence of those “little personality quirks” are trying and sometimes less than appealing in public, they are my kids and I love them to death.

The same is true with buildings that we as architects design.  We invest countless hours during pre-development in pursuit of being selected for the project.  We then spend months conceptualizing, studying the site, responding to existing context, interpreting code requirements, attending public meetings, and pitching design ideas to owners, all while attempting to balance the ever-changing variable we loving refer to as the budget.  We fight in behalf of sacred cows (key design elements) that often get slaughtered, we passionately debate scope, and we ride the tide of political will…something we as architects were never prepped for during the college years.  Finally at the end of six to eight months of design/documentation and ten to fourteen months of construction it’s time for opening day at the ballpark.  There’s no tell-all journal published that outlines the arguments over additional services, change orders, screw-ups in the field, or squandered design opportunities; on occasion we actually show up to opening day with a few scars…but that’s our job as the architect, we shoulder the responsibility and forget about excuses.  While there’s always things we wish we could go back and change, there’s always that one thing that we adore about our design – until someone decides to knock the building down, no one can take that away from us.

The Return Home

In 2008, when Pendulum Studio was commissioned to design a $9,000,000 multi-use ballpark on the Heartland Community College Campus, we knew going in that the budget was tight, so our strategy was simple…keep it simple.  Now that the facility is complete and in the midst of its second full season of operation we were invited back to lead a tour for 50 fans interested in the inner workings of the facility.  To be honest, this process was as informative to us as it was intended to be for the fans – this kind of exercise is a great way of gauging if we were successful in executing what we set out to accomplish; aside from operational feedback from the team, who better to hear it from than dedicated fans?


One of my favorite things about this ballpark is the surprise that’s unveiled when you walk through the gates in the outfield and up the stairs, or from the sidewalk through the main gates behind home plate and catch your first glimpse of the playing field.  It’s a great feeling when you realize that even though from the street the exterior facade is not extravagantly ornate, the openness of the outfield concourse and the deliberate break in the press box building mass behind the bag forms a view corridor that immediately sends a signal to your brain that says “this is going to be a great place to watch a game.”

The main entry concessions behind home plate are flanked by keg storage rooms and adjacent open patio areas that were originally intended to serve as beer gardens with tapped counters and bar stools.  Although the beer gardens were not executed in the initial build, beer lines and power has been stubbed up in the appropriate locations for future use.  In the interim both areas have been landscaped to offer a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the busy main concourse.

As you work your way down the first base concourse toward the outfield entry there’s no shortage of grass berm seating – room for approximately 1,500 down each line – 3,000 total.  We engineered the slope at grade identical to the seating bowl to allow for future expansion of additional seating sections, group decks, and party areas as demand rises and funding becomes available.

The outfield wall was intentionally designed to be low and deep to create great lines of sight even at the lowest points near the base of the wall.  There’s a future opportunity for the installation of drink rail and sponsor advertising at the top of the berm along the concrete walk – the picture below illustrates this vantage point from the top of the berm; the only thing that would make this experience better is an ice-cold beer in your hand.

The scoreboard below is positioned just in front of the locker room facilities in right-center.  When the home team takes the field, they walk directly out of the locker room under the scoreboard, then down through the corn to the playing field surface.

The Future…Room For Smart Growth

Phase one of this project involved a great deal of pushing and pulling.  We stretched our dollar pretty far and created a nice starting point for where we’d like to see things ultimately go a season or two down the road.  The future addition of concourse roof covering, drink rails in the outfield, group decks, outfield entry roof to match home plate, the installation of our original 20′ x 40′ drive-in movie screen and finally a pedestrian bridge to connect both ends of the concourse will help the facility to fill out a bit and grow to full maturity.  It’s going to take time to get there, and the $1M that’s required to make it happen is not going to be easy to obtain but as my father always says, “timing is everything”.  With an announced 3,100 in the crowd and an actual attendance of approximately 2,500 on a friday night (7/8/2011) and with the expectation of 5,000 on Saturday for the game followed by their first concert, I’m confident they will make it happen sooner than later.

As I mentioned at the outset of this post, designing and constructing a building – in this case a ballpark, really is like birthing and rearing a child.  There’s a lot of give and take, a little sacrifice here and there but as designers, architects, “parents”, we shoulder that responsibility.  At the end of our day at the ballpark, there were two things that happened that were pretty fulfilling: 1) post tour – the fans told us how much they sincerely enjoy attending ball games at this facility, 2) for the first time I got to sit in the stands with my business partner and our families and just relax and enjoy.  We are proud of our work.

East Village Redefined

 

Although we previously posted information about the start of phase one of the East Village project, we did not outline the complete vision for the overall development.  With the multi-family housing and adjacent parking garage making rapid progress toward completion in October of this year, we eagerly anticipate the proposed additional phases outlined in our master plan.

Green Bay Bullfrogs on the boards…literally

My Design Process

The first thing my oldest son asks me when I get home is: “what did you do at work today – did you have fun?”  With exception to the days that I spend in meetings or on the road my typical answer is: “I sketched most of the day…yep it was a good day”.

Just over a year ago we were cranking away on the Green Bay Bullfrogs’ new stadium and something inspired me to start taking video of our design process for just about everything I do.  Needless to say, I’ve got hours of video – this one being the first of a series that features me on the boards with my favorite triangle and circle template.

Based on the wardrobe changes in the video this was a three-day sketch.  Although I pushed the speed to 8x in editing, we spent quite a bit of time thinking about how best to tie into existing site context (Fox River & downtown to the east, arts district to the west), blur the site boundary lines (outfield boardwalk & playground), and maximize revenue generating potential (everything inside the secure line).