Overcoming Challenges in Multifamily Amenities

In a prior post titled “Designing Apartment Amenities for Millennials,” we referred to special challenges and the solutions we came up with in designing multifamily amenities in urban areas. Often, the problems presented required us to think more holistically, to work more collaboratively, and to always be the strongest advocate for the exterior experiential environment.

Here are a few examples:

  • Cantilevered decks: In Atlanta, Emory Point Phase II and Paces Camden’s courtyards, architectural layout, pool and deck size codes, owner program and amenities created a handful of challenges for the landscape architectural team. Complicating matters, both projects’ courtyards are on structural decks, surrounded on three sides by building. We came up with a solution to cantilever the amenity deck over street sidewalks (Emory) and forest edge (Paces Camden) to deliver more space and provide a sufficiently dramatic experience.
Rendering of Emory Point Phase II amenity deck.

Rendering of Emory Point Phase II amenity deck.

  • Lack of pool depth: At Park Central, in Nashville, Tennessee, we were initially confronted with a site plan that required multiple level decks in a tiny space to access the pool, which had to be “raised” due to clearance issues with the parking structure below. By working collaboratively with the architect, parking deck consultant, structural engineer and owner, we rearranged the parking orientation below, so that the structure worked to allow us to sink the pool flush into the deck (and maintain needed clearance) and eliminate the multiple levels that made the deck seem even smaller. Additionally, we worked with the architect to rearrange some exterior units that resulted in a dramatic floor-to-ceiling window overlooking Nashville’s scenic Centennial Park.
The amenity deck at Park Central. Photo credit to North American Properties.

The amenity deck at Park Central. Photo credit to North American Properties.

  • Hurricane NOA’s: At Columbus Center (Coral Gables, FL), we are currently completing documents for what will be the city’s tallest residential structure. Its fifth floor rooftop amenity deck is a blend of Coral Gables tradition with a modern twist. In this environment, pavers, trellis, furniture and other amenities all had to pass muster for hurricane proofing, hence the designation “NOA” for “Notice of Acceptance.”
  • Health Code inertia: Swimming pool review typically falls under local Health code review. However, pool shape, look, feel — i.e. the experience — is often shaped by features such as infinity edges, flush edge recirculation, exotic materials, underwater sunshelves, waterwalls, etc. While “best practices” cry out for uniformity, one jurisdiction will allow one item while another nearby forbids it. For example, At Emory Point Phase II, we worked with a specialized pool consultant, the owner, architect and structural engineer to get the local health department to approve a unique raised tile clad “bathtub” style spa pool. And at Haven at Avalon, we convinced Fulton County to reinterpret their codes to allow pedestal pavers of rooftop pool decks, creating a dead flat pool deck and all hidden drains.

shaderlight example

Deck 2 Image 2

  • An Elegant Swamp: At Apollo Ascend, in Largo, Maryland, local codes required significant onsite stormwater treatment as well as stormwater detention. However, we had to work also with zoning guidelines, requiring interior amenity courtyards to provide significant stormwater detention/treatment in highly stylized courtyard amenity spaces. We accomplished this objective through a sustainable series of Zen/rain garden planters that fit the overall design motif and met the stormwater code.

What solutions can we come up with for your property?

Advertisements
Posted in Blog Posts, Millennials, Multifamily | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

We’re Growing – Meet Our New Team Members

Our firm has welcomed five new employees over the past few months, a good testament to our growing scope of work. We’re thrilled to share more about our recent hires.

  • Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.39.46 AMJoshua Thompson, Project Manager, LEED AP. His job entails providing overall management direction for each project from schematic design to construction administration. A dedicated Auburn fan with a master’s degree in landscape architecture, Joshua proposed to his wife under the Tiger’s iconic Toomer’s Oak Trees.
  • Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.44.39 AMJohn Latham, Landscape Designer, LEED Green Associate. His duties include drafting AutoCAD, creating details, doing revisions and creating presentations. When he’s not cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs, John enjoys collecting old, vintage watches from the 1920s through the 1960s – he claims, the golden years of watch making.
  • Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.39.08 AMCorryn Feeney, Landscape Designer. Her duties include the production of CAD, Sketch Up, LandFX and Photoshop drawings as well as area take-offs. In her senior year at Virginia Tech, Corryn participated in an Archeological Field School that focused on landscape archeology. She worked with a team to repurpose an abandoned pasta factory in a small village in Sardinia, Italy.
  • Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.37.59 AMEnoc Cruz, Landscape Designer. His duties include generating construction documents and schematic design renderings. An Auburn graduate with a master’s degree in landscape architecture, Enoc is currently working on ONE Daytona among various other projects. In his free time, Enoc enjoys playing percussion.
  • Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.40.22 AMKevin Thomas, Landscape Designer. His duties include assisting with the production of landscape implementation documents from concept to completion. A University of Georgia graduate, Kevin especially enjoys designing environmentally sustainable places.

We’re continuing to grow and build a team that is diverse, talented and committed to great work. If you’re interested in learning more, send David Floyd an email.

Posted in Landscape Architecture | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Importance of Assisted Living Amenities

Sending a loved one to an assisted living home is a difficult decision. Families often consider the facility’s pricing, reputation, location and amenities. Also, from the moment families enter the property, they are feeling whether the facility is a good fit. Just like at a retail, apartment or mixed-use project, landscape architecture at an assisted living facility can create places where people, no matter their age, want to spend time and have memorable experiences with friends and families. Smart landscape design sets projects apart from the competition.

We’ve worked on various assisted living homes in the Southeast, including Ivy Hall in Johns Creek, Georgia. Our experience at Ivy Hall taught us what works and why.

  • Gazebos. Shaded, seated areas encourage residents to socialize and spend time outside. Families envision their loved ones enjoying time in nature.
  • Birdhouses. And birdbaths. They attract a variety of birds, which provides residents and their families with an enjoyable pastime as they stroll the property.
Features such as the gazebo and birdhouses offer Ivy Hall additional amenities for residents and their families.

Features such as the gazebo and birdhouses offer Ivy Hall additional amenities for residents and their families.

  • Walking paths. Speaking of strolling the property, walking paths encourage residents to be active. Research shows older adults who regularly walk are healthier and happier.
Attractive flowers (such as White Azaleas) and walking paths encourage residents and families to actively spend time outdoors.

Attractive flowers (such as White Azaleas) and walking paths encourage residents and families to actively spend time outdoors.

Considering an outdoor upgrade? Send Scott Jones an email. He’d be happy to discuss the potential for your property.

Posted in Assisted Living, Landscape Architecture | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Around the World Wednesday

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 11.38.49 AMA $175 million plan was recently announced for a floating park to join Manhattan’s waterfront. The park, to be known as Pier 55, would live atop a parallelogram-shaped platform 186 feet off the Hudson River shoreline and feature amenities such as three performance venues, including an amphitheater.

Pier 55 would replace Pier 54, a flat-topped structure that extends 875 feet into the Hudson River. Currently, Pier 54 is used for outdoor movies and similar events, but has been slowly collapsing into the river.

We are intrigued by the ambitious plan, which pushes the current boundaries of innovative landscape architecture in public spaces. The proposal imagines a space where people will undeniably have memorable experiences – something we are passionate about at Site solutions. The futuristic park design is made possible by large private investors, including billionaire Barry Diller, former head of Paramount Pictures and Fox, who has pledged $130 million – making the reality of such a proposal that much more exciting.

Proposed park plan would serve as iconic landmark on Manhattan’s waterfront. Credit to Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio.

Proposed park plan would serve as iconic landmark on Manhattan’s waterfront. Credit to Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio.

British designer Thomas Weatherhick (famous for his design of the Olympic caldron for the Summer Olympics in London 2012) designed the park.

The undulating form addresses environmental issues and serves as a marine sanctuary for striped bass. The largest event space in the park could accommodate 1,000 seated people and 2,500 on a lawn. Other nooks and smaller stages are also included.

This rendering depicts one of the proposed social nooks within the park. Credit to Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio.

This rendering depicts one of the proposed social nooks within the park. Credit to Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio.

For more information on the park, check out The New York Times story here: http://nyti.ms/1vhUKKp.

Posted in Around the World Wednesday, Blog Posts, Commercial Real Estate, Landscape Architecture, Parks, Public Spaces | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Magical Ice Skating Experiences

Ice skating has become one of the most popular seasonal activities offered at mixed-use centers. Few, if any, actually stop to think about how these temporary rinks come to be and how they are designed. And even fewer realize that landscape architects actually have a big hand in it.

Landscape architects are trained to understand how spaces are formed and how people use those spaces and thus are uniquely qualified for the creation of social spaces within large developments. With the recent opening of Atlantic Station and Avalon’s ice skating rinks, we wanted to share design and land planning insight from the landscape architect’s perspective.

In considering location for the temporary rinks, we strategically placed each one in areas that would generate the ultimate holiday experience. The team considered spaces on the property where the rink would naturally fit, rather than dumping it in a vast, open parking lot or “back of house” service area. They also looked for specific proportions of building heights and street widths that would create an intimate setting for the overall skating rink experience.

At Atlantic Station, our team suggested moving the rink from Central Park to the lightly travelled District Avenue where it now resides. This move allowed the rink to be much larger and more importantly, made it visible from 17th street, which connects Atlantic Station to Midtown.  The previous location in Central Park was small and hidden from view by those on the heavily trafficked 17th Street. The new location provides a better environment for guest and residents to enjoy the seasonal décor adorning the trees and skyscrapers creating a unique backdrop for the rink.

Atlantic Station tree lighting 11/23/13

The placement of Atlantic Station’s ice skating rink creates an ideal setting for guests to feel the holiday spirit.

At Avalon, we designed the Plaza (in front of Regal Cinemas) to be programmable throughout the seasons with a 5,000-square-foot flexible lawn that serves as a platform for the holiday skating rink. The rink is located at the center of Avalon’s hub of excitement with the stage and fountains on one end and Concierge and wood-burning fireplace on the other.

Avalon’s rink, which is similar in size to Rockefeller Center’s, offers an unparalleled holiday experience in the south with draping Christmas lights and sparkling stars illuminating the scene.

Avalon’s rink, which is similar in size to Rockefeller Center’s, offers an unparalleled holiday experience in the south with draping Christmas lights and sparkling stars illuminating the scene.

Beyond space consideration, our team planned for infrastructure, lighting and sound requirements; rental services; audience seating; and Zamboni parking and access. This planning gives the appearance that the rink is a permanent fixture and not an ad hoc amenity surrounded by temporary generators, chillers and above the ground pipes and conduits.

How are you customizing your property for the holidays? We’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Blog Posts | 1 Comment

Shops Around Lenox: A Story We’re Proud to Tell

We’ve gotten more than one phone call from retail developers inspired by the transformation at Shops Around Lenox. Not surprising, considering the renovation transformed a dull strip center into a high-end open-air experiential center. We’re really proud of the landscape architecture there – and it represents well the type of work for which we’re known. We want to create places where people have memorable moments.

Site Solutions’ Scott Jones recently authored a piece about the retail renovation project for Retrofit magazine. It will hit newsstands this month and we’ll be sure to posts links to the article on our social channels.

In the meantime, here is the Cliff’s Notes version: Developer Healey Weatherholtz purchased the project in 2009 for $24.5 million, spent $20 million upgrading it and sold it two years later for $71.8 million. Not bad! Principal Eric Weatherholtz had a design vision, met with representatives of all the design disciplines regularly and provided clear direction: Create something urban and edgy and make it feel different from the typical suburban look in Atlanta. We did that by breaking up the sea of parking, choosing a classic, sustainable plant palette and using authentic materials such as concrete, stone and steel in modern and interesting ways.

Sectioning planters with authentic materials freshened up the once-dull strip center into a high-end open-air experiential center.

Sectioning planters with authentic materials freshened up the once-dull strip center into a high-end open-air experiential center.

Adding a pop of color creates a lively shopping environment.

Adding a pop of color creates a lively shopping environment.

Strategically placing plants along the shopping corridor draws the eye to different storefronts, inviting the shopper to explore.

Strategically placing plants along the shopping corridor draws the eye to different storefronts, inviting the shopper to explore.

Stay tuned for news on other exciting projects, and continue to learn how landscape architecture can help create unique and memorable places.

Posted in Blog Posts | Leave a comment

Around the World Wednesday

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 11.38.49 AMWired recently published a compelling story that is perfect fodder to kick off our Around the World Wednesday series, in which we’ll look at innovative design techniques and inspirational projects from around the world.

Wired’s story highlights an imaginative vision for a grassy field in Vinge, Denmark. Today, the project site consists of two sets of railroad tracks and an open field. By 2033, this empty space will be home to a bustling town with approximately 20,000 residents.

Rather than building around the existing tracks, the architects incorporate them as a central element in the urban design plan. The design team envisions the station as a gateway for the town that will draw people to explore the area.

This rendering depicts the future design with the railroad tracks (see the red train) as a central theme. Photo credit to Henning Larsen Architects.

This rendering depicts the future design with the railroad tracks (see the red train) as a central theme. Photo credit to Henning Larsen Architects.

At Site Solutions, we often run into pre-existing conditions on project sites.  This project is a great reminder that for designers, these are golden opportunities to think of creative solutions to integrate and celebrate the uniqueness of the project, rather than work around those conditions.

We hope this blog series will entertain and inform, and we welcome comments and ideas for future Around the World Wednesday posts.

 

 

Posted in Around the World Wednesday, Landscape Architecture | Tagged , , | Leave a comment