While Buckingham Properties is hard at work breathing new life into Rochester’s old Ward Plumbing Supply building at 739 South Clinton Avenue a group of RIT architecture students is simultaneously using the project to test their own chops. The wild concepts the students came up with are fun to compare with the actual project…
Edge of the Wedge as it’s being called (because the property sits on the border of the South Wedge and Highland Park neighborhoods) will have four levels of mixed-use space when completed. Ken Glazer, Managing Partner at Buckingham Properties tells RocSubway the reason for this project was simple: The South Wedge has been steadily growing and improving for years.
“It’s a very young area. And it has the vibe of a very cool, artsy neighborhood,” Glazer says. “We felt strongly this building would do really well with residential in a neighborhood like this.”
This coming February at least one restaurant, The Cub Room, will open within the largest of three retail spaces at street-level. Part of the second floor may contain office space. And the rest is being built out as residential apartments.
That’s the project as it were in reality. But what if a class of architecture students got their hands on it? RIT professor, Ming Hu, gave this adaptive reuse assignment to her students and turned them loose…
Thomas Button added some nice modern architectural detail to the former Ward Supply Building while preserving its charming old-world elements; brick work, stone, heavy timbers, etc. He also paid special attention to the smaller building additions, giving them each a new façade using reclaimed wood and other materials, unifying them visually with the main building.
For residents Thomas added an enclosed rooftop community lounge with an outdoor terrace. And with a focus to improve efficiency, passive ventilation, daylighting, rainwater harvesting and grey/black water filtration strategies were incorporated.
With the neighborhood in mind, Thomas included space for a deli/grocery, café, restaurant and indoor skate park on the first floors, with office space on the second floor of the main building, and residences above.
And check this out… James uses thermochromic (heat-sensitive/color-changing) to change the albedo of the building based on its temperature. As the temperature goes up the pigment becomes colorless, revealing the base coat or graphics underneath. Brilliant!
Two existing structures were also demolished and salvaged to create roof coverage for public use, and the newly exposed ground became a communal lawn for residents. James says the idea behind this type of programming is to give occupants the luxury of personal space (typical of suburban living) while maintaining the community aspects that residents of the South Wedge enjoy.
Sunlight is collected via skylights and channeled down into lush indoor gardens, a public market and even a gym. The image above is the Renzo Piano building at the California Academy of Sciences, but Emily envisions something similar for Edge of the Wedge.
Finally, Larissa Reyna Lembert invites the outdoors in—and vice versa—by connecting interior and exterior spaces with huge, repeated double doors – as with the first floor restaurant and courtyard shown above.
Professor Hu invited Glazer into her classroom during student critique/review sessions, so the developer got to see each concept in progress and was able to inform the students of the various challenges associated with rehabbing older buildings. But this was an educational experience for both apprentice and master.
“We are always so budget oriented… so it’s good for us to get to sit in the sandbox for a bit and consider new ideas,” said Glazer. “They definitely brought some interesting solutions.”
These young architects may not have been constrained by Buckingham’s 5.4 million dollar budget, but they were required to meet certain goals including:
- LEED 2009 Gold certification
- reduction of stormwater runoff by 50%
- selection of native trees and plants
- use of recycled and regional building materials, and
- reduced LPD (Lighting Power Density) levels by making good use of sunlight
While construction at Edge of the Wedge was too far along for the students to be able to influence real design decisions, Glazer says he’s now working with another RIT class to design a scheme for the surface parking lot at Midtown Plaza parcel 7. It may not sound like a very exciting project, but at a highly visible corner in the heart of downtown—where Buckingham and the City are trying to create an attractive destination—a parking lot presents some real challenges that may be solved with good design. “We haven’t actually designed it yet ourselves, so there is a real chance of a student project being utilized there and built.”
Both Glazer and Hu say they’ll work to continue this relationship into the future.
“I love the idea of bringing more students downtown. Giving them the opportunity to see what’s happening here, and to help shape it… that increases the likelihood that they’ll want to stay in Rochester.”
See all the student work
Tags: 739 South Clinton Avenue, adaptive reuse, architecture, Buckingham Properties, development plans, Edge of the Wedge, Emily van Keuren, James Reynolds, Ken Glazer, Larissa Reyna Lembert, Ming Hu, Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Rochester NY, South Wedge, Thomas Button, urban design, urban development, Ward Supply Building
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