This affordable housing solution focuses on the use of modular, pre-fabricated living units constructed from used shipping containers (intermodal freight containers). The surplus of containers in the U.S. numbers well into the hundreds of thousands, making them at once both readily available and affordable. Containers can be fabricated and modified off-site under controlled conditions, then delivered to the project location and quickly assembled. This allows for a higher degree of control over cost, scheduling, and the potential for overruns typical of a traditional site built project.
The modular living units are stacked upon a concrete plinth. The plinth neutralizes the site’s sloping topography instituting a datum on which the living units can be efficiently massed. A variety of unit arrangements can be created by clever manipulation of the containers and their assembly, creating a mixture of micro/studio, 1, 2, and 3 bedroom unit types. The floor area below the plinth houses a variety of community services, thus activating the street level and providing amenities for both the residents of the project and the citizens of the broader Downtown community. Potential street level services include a small branch library (for access to internet, digital media, etc.), an urgent care medical center, and a laundromat or dry cleaners.
Containers are stacked up to 12 stories high in two independent massings, each with a circulation spine. These two “stacks” are mirrored about a central courtyard with residential entrance cores located at opposite corners. The courtyard becomes the shared front porch of the community. It is comprised of larger communal spaces interlocked with smaller, more private spaces containing a variety of program types. Gathering spaces, playground/recreation areas, and quiet spaces for reflection all coexist. The park-like setting supplements the relative scarcity of open space within walking distance of the site, and helps make the densely populated development more livable, vibrant, and green. Rooftop gardens provide further opportunity for green space, particularly for urban farming, allowing a place for cultivating sustenance and interpersonal relationships.
BEACON MUNICIPAL CENTER
LOCATION: DECATUR, GA (2015) TYPE: 3-PHASE PROJECT BUDGET: $18.25 MILLION SIZE: 88,200 SF (TOTAL SIZE) CATEGORY: MUNICIPAL
Threatened by rapid growth, flood plain proximity, and unconditioned space, the police department and municipal court needed a long term plan to address the needs of each city department. After conducting thorough documentation of the existing building, Office of Design interviewed user groups within the police department and the courts to establish a comprehensive program that included future growth options. The resulting design produced a 33,000 sf new facility complete with 200 person court room, prisoner holding cells, 9-1-1 emergency call center, and administrative spaces for the Police Department. To address the on-site flooding issue, two large storm water detention tanks were designed to capture water for the entire Center’s landscape irrigation, helping to track the project towards LEED Gold. The new modern facility also provides the Police Department with a much improved civic identity to citizens of Decatur.
After assessing the condition of the existing 1950’s high school and extensive programming efforts, the facility was stripped to its concrete frame and designed to perfectly fit the needs of City Schools staff. The 25,000 sf office includes a training room, school board meeting spaces and an open volume created between first and second floor for greater communication between staff. Natural light is used as much as possible, with metal perforated screens on the southern exposure to protect the interior of the building.
A small historic gymnasium and library building occupied the corner of the site. Both preservation and functionality guided the design for the recreation center. Office of Design was able to preserve the original building facades on the neighborhood corner while creating a new gymnasium on street level with lower level offices and gathering spaces for after school and weekend programs. Lower level functions can spill out into the courtyard, offering kids a sheltered and private place to gather after school. A clerestory roof provides natural daylight into the upper level basketball court, while windows provide views into the outdoor courtyard space. Visitors using the historic Ebster gym front entrance discover an exhibit on the history of the site, surrounding neighborhood, and the equalization school.
Chelsea Westside townhomes are located in the industrial area of west midtown in Atlanta. They consist of 92 units with 10 different unit types with designs and materials that reflect the industrious area. The townhomes are designed around an interior courtyard and each have a roof top terrace.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: ATLANTA, GA (2016) TYPE: DESIGN/BID/BUILD BUDGET: $10 MILLION SIZE: 10,000 SF (BUILDING SIZE) CATEGORY: DWELL
Using cues from a sloped site the design of this townhome community in downtown Decatur is focused around an elevated internal common courtyard which organized vehicular access to the 33 townhome units. Due to the site limitations the pedestrian and vehicular entries occur on the same façade. This would typically create a large amount of paving, but deliberate care was exercised to insure that the drive and entry was landscaped to create an inviting experience to the pedestrian. To extend this idea of greenscaping each roof deck offers continuous planter walls on both sides enclosing the space as an outdoor room while bringing nature close to the owner. Individual identity for each unit façade is created from indigenous materials used in a contemporary aesthetic.
REYNOLDS SQUARE TOWNHOMES
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: ATLANTA, GA (2016) TYPE: DESIGN/BID/BUILD BUDGET: $5.6 MILLION SIZE: 40,000 SF (BUILDING SIZE) CATEGORY: DWELL
Situated on the arterial and transitional thoroughfare of Moreland Avenue, designing an inviting yet secure façade to this 23 unit townhome community created a challenge. Working with the topography of the existing site, the units along Moreland were designed three feet above the sidewalk with a board formed concrete retaining planter wall that encloses and shelters each front patio from the busy street. Pulling from the cues of neighboring homes, stairs leading to the front patios provide a welcoming path to each unit’s entry door while creating a defined sense of public and private space.
VILLA RICA PUBLIC LIBRARY
This new library branch is part of the West Georgia Regional Library system. The overall site plan arranges the building entrance and patron parking in direct relationship with vehicular access determined by sloping site conditions. To cope with twenty feet topography change across the site, the new 16,000 square foot facility is organized around reading ‘terraces’ that work with a series of internal ramps to help minimize site development costs. Patrons are welcomed by an open layout featuring natural light and a variety of reading spaces.
The planning and design of this traditional neighborhood development in Morningside aimed to create a true community. Working with a tight site, each home fronts a communal green park area while the courtyards of each individual home provides private and intimate outdoor living. The exclusive Office of Design "Courtyard Homes" are designed on a zero lot line where the interior plan and space of each home is focused on the outdoor living space of a private courtyard, merging the interior and exterior boundaries. Through the use of this exclusive home type, neighborhood development on tight infill sites can be improved in metro Atlanta.
The design for this Beltline fronting property included 24 single family homesites with multiple park spaces, community garden area, bio-retention system, pervious paving and a pedestrian boardwalk system linking the development to the Beltline. All of this was accomplished while dealing with fifty feet of topographic change across the site.
LOCATION: INMAN PARK, GA (2008) TYPE: DESIGN/BUILD BUDGET: $1,475,000 SIZE: 24,000 SF (BUILDING SIZE) CATEGORY: DWELL
These modern and comfortable intown condominiums boast of LEED Gold certification, establishing a unique new living environment. The design utilizes energy saving strategies, incorporates sustainable construction materials, maximizes natural daylight, and improves indoor air quality. The simple material palette creates a juxtaposition from the intricate language of Historic Inman Park, while embracing the simplicity of the surrounding industrial community. Each residence incorporates large sliding glass walls which open onto an sheltered outdoor living space, blurring the boundary between the private interior and the communal exterior.
This is a conceptual design created for the Post Road Branch Library is the result of our short list interview with the Forsyth County Public Library System. This 23,000 square foot building has the capacity to house 95,000 volumes of books, audio-visual, and other library materials; seating for 127 library users and an 80 seat multipurpose assembly room. This design captures northern daylight with the use of horizontal storefront glass and roof penetrating light shelves to reduce the use of electricity and enhance the natural light within the library. Irrigation of the landscape is achieved via site rain water collection in a reflecting pool located in the courtyard. An outdoor pavilion located in the reflecting pool serves as an outdoor reading area for patrons as well as a gathering space for children’s storytelling.