Mixed-use developers address changing demographics to create communities where none existed.
By Kenneth W. Betz, Senior Editor
Outdoor, public spaces increasingly are recognized as important and valuable parts of mixed-use and other developments.
“We are deeply conscious of design’s impact on shaping the urban experience,” said Jeff Paine, AIA, principal, Duda|Paine Architects, Durham, NC. “We believe the diversity of our work, both in terms of project types and locations, is an asset in informing the process of making urban architecture that tackles issues of population growth, demographic shifts, and the evolution of generational preferences.”
“Public ‘rooms’ are fundamentally multi-purpose and improvisational,” said Turan Duda, FAIA, principal, Duda|Paine Architects. “By providing a nucleus for activity that is interwoven with green space, public art, and opportunity for pause, we create a community where none previously existed.”
“In many projects today, in markets as diverse as student unions, like Talley at N.C. State [Raleigh], and corporate headquarters, like NCR headquarters in Atlanta, we seek to create public spaces that erode traditional public/private boundaries,” he said. “Public spaces, particularly when integrated into the private realm, create a shared sense of unity and emotional resonance.”
“The work we do as architects matters,” said Jeff Paine. “For us, a critical aspect of land-use planning and development involves creating public spaces with the intention for them to become vital to their cities. We are setting the stage for future generations.”
Both Duda|Paine Architects principals, Jeff Paine, AIA, and Turan Duda, FAIA, in the recent past have expanded their practical mixed-use design experience with self-directed study into issues related to public space and the urban environment at American Academy in Rome. While Jeff focused on the form, history, and evolution of centuries-old public spaces, Turan explored human perception in the urban environment.
The firm’s work includes planning and design work that is reshaping core areas of southern cities from Austin, TX, to Orlando, as well as Atlanta, Washington, Raleigh, Charlotte, NC, and Chattanooga, TN. Many of these projects present a new translation of mixed-use by including public elements such as pocket parks (as in The Dillon project that is reshaping downtown Raleigh, open-air plazas that promote walkability (Dimensional Place in Charlotte), and even support wellness (gardens at Winter Park Center for Health and Wellbeing in Orlando) and integrated art on public view (as in 601 Mass Ave in Washington and Durham.ID [Innovation District] in Durham, NC).
Gateway Village Technology Center, Charlotte, NC
5,120 sq. ft. in a 1.1-million-sq.-ft. project
“The project’s developer, Cousins Properties, Charlotte, hoped to start a chain reaction of positive development in Charlotte’s blighted Third Ward,” said Turan Duda, FAIA, Duda|Paine. “We became more than the project’s designer; we served as negotiator, mediator, and ‘the conscience of the Third Ward,’ synthesizing the conflicting needs of diverse stakeholders to generate a scheme that would revitalize this area with garden plazas, paths, and open-air atria that connect housing units, offices, shops, and parking. The project’s central Promenade is the complex’s heart and embodies Cousin’s vision for a great public space, a social center, and a magnetic attractor.”
“The design process at Gateway was multilayered,” said Jeff Paine, Duda|Paine, “with the goal always to create an accessible, welcoming, urban nucleus in harmony with the demands of a primary financial industry tenant, which required high security for its high-tech operations.”
“We collaborated with community planning groups and owners to establish new guidelines for Charlotte’s entire Third Ward,” said Duda. “We became rooted in this community, chairing the project’s arts program to expand its influence and working with surrounding developments to create meaningful connections.”
“Gateway demonstrates our long focus on the concept of ‘authenticity’ in ensuring the creation of successful urban places,” he said.
Gateway Village revitalized the depressed area west of Charlotte’s main downtown corridor—new office and apartment buildings, as well as a major culinary institute, reference Gateway as the district’s catalyst and nucleus. In addition to becoming a round-the-clock, live-work-play environment, the Promenade has become Charlotte’s most desirable location for festivals, charity fundraisers, and concerts. Multiple arcades and passageways open the complex to pedestrian trafﬁc and provide easy access to the parking garage, streets, residences, and the garden plaza.
A two-story skybridge between two buildings spans the central plaza and helps define the Promenade as a soaring open-air gallery into a favorite venue for outdoor concerts, charity events, festivals, and farmers’ markets.
Hugh L. McColl, CEO of Bank of America (retired), noted that, prior to this development, unlike many of the world’s great cities, Charlotte lacked a monumental public space that could be accessed 24-7.
The Dean of Univ. of North Carolina Charlotte’s College of Arts and Architecture, Ken Lambla, AIA, routinely takes students for site visits to study how socially conscious development can reinvigorate blighted urban areas.
Café Street At Terminus
“The master plan for Terminus separated a heavily trafficked outer street for vehicles from protected inner-pedestrian circulation,” said Turan Duda. “The architecture is iconic in Atlanta’s skyline, but Café Street is about transition—it establishes a public center for civic life by connecting cafes, shops, offices, residences, and access to parking.”
“Café Street is about a project’s potential to be a ‘good neighbor’ in supporting and facilitating urban growth,” said Duda|Paine’s Jeff Paine. “With the scale of projects like Terminus, you have to give something back to the city; public space is a great way to do it.”
“Terminus’ public spaces are intentionally art-infused,” said Duda. “Art is always essential to our strategy to provide the public much-needed breathing room in the midst of urban density.”
Cox Campus Gardens And Pavilion
“Unprogrammed public space, whether outdoors or placed within a building as we did multiple times at Cox, always seems to become an organization’s most valuable asset,” said Jeff Paine, Duda|Paine Architects. “It creates a natural venue for civic functions that strengthen ties between institutions, organizations and their community.”
Santa Clara, CA
Campus X, a 3,000,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use corporate complex designed by Form4 Architecture, San Francisco, comprises four V-shaped buildings evocative of futuristic boomerangs, each providing an open courtyard space filled with public amenities and outdoor opportunities. Located in the Silicon Valley technology epicenter of Santa Clara, CA, the complex provides an organic repetition that distinguishes it from other buildings of similar function in the area.
Against prevailing local practices, where technology campuses are designed to be fortresses of exclusion, Campus X is permeable by both the public and the workforce. Two pedestrian ramps rise on the east side of the site and converge toward its center, intended to inspire awe, reduce the building’s scale, and invite guests inward. At the ground level, all spaces are activated by a 25-ft.-tall retail zone featuring showrooms, retail, and amenity space capped by the glassed forms of the buildings.
Each of the complex’s four buildings are distinct in size and function, ranging from 400,000 to 800,000 sq. ft. Three of the buildings offer 150,000 sq. ft. of retail space, and 200,000 sq. ft. of amenities and product showrooms. The fourth building provides 650,000 sq. ft. of housing. The complex offers three levels of parking—one underground and two above ground.