The Ins and Outs of Adaptive Reuse

February 20, 2024
Turning Underutilized Assets into Housing

What is Adaptive Reuse?

 

Adaptive Reuse Residential Conversions are projects that repurpose existing buildings for uses other than what the space was originally designed for.

 

Adaptive reuse offers developers the unique opportunity to save their investment, create and unparalleled story for end users, and make money by converting a disused or underutilized project into a one-of-a-kind residential space.

 

Chown Pella

 

Chown Pella Lofts, an old factory warehouse converted into a multi-story residential condominium in Portland, OR’s Pearl District.

 

However, updating old buildings comes with layers of complexity.

 

Since 1994, Ankrom Moisan has been involved with adaptive reuse projects and housing conversions. The depth of our expertise means we have an intimate understanding of the limits and parameters of any given site – we know what it takes to transform an underperforming asset into a successful residential project.

 

Why Conversions?

 

There are many reasons to choose conversion over construction when considering how to revitalize old structures or adapt unused sites.

 

Rental Housing Demands

 

According to the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks (NAOIP), the United States needs to build 4.3 million more apartments by 2035 to meet the demand for rental housing. This includes 600,000 units (total) to fill the shortage from underbidding after the 2008 financial crisis. Adaptive reuse residential conversions are an affordable and effective way to create more housing and fulfill that need.

 

Desirable Neighborhoods

 

The way we see it, the success of our buildings, neighborhoods, and infrastructure is our legacy for decades to come. Areas with a diverse mix of older and newer buildings create neighborhoods with better economic performances than their more homogeneous counterparts. By preserving and protecting existing structures, conversions contribute positively to the health and desirability of the neighborhood, leading to a quicker tenant fill.

 

Being committed to the places we occupy, live in, and care about is another reason to embrace adaptive reuse residential conversion projects; they revive our cities. Reducing the number of buildings that sit empty in urban areas plays a major role in activating downtown districts.

 

Reduced Waste

 

Saving older, historic buildings also prevents materials from entering the waste stream and protects the tons of embodied carbon spent during the initial construction. AIA research has shown that building reuse avoids “50-75% of the embodied carbon emissions that would be generated by a new building.”

 

New Marketing Opportunities

 

Aside from these benefits to the community, adaptive reuse conversions present a way for developers to recover underutilized projects and break into top markets like affordable, market-rate, and student housing.

 

Construction Efficiencies

 

Compared to new buildings, residential conversion projects save time, money, and energy, since their designs are based on an existing structure. Adaptive reuse conversions also benefit from not having their percentage of glazing or amount of parking limited by current codes, since they’re already established.

 

 

One-of-a-Kind Design

 

We don’t believe in a magic formula or a linear “one-size-fits-all” approach to composition. Each site is a unique opportunity to establish a one-of-a-kind project identity that’s tied to its history and surroundings.

At the outset of any conversion, we analyze each individual site and tailor our process to align with the existing elements that make it unique. Working with what you have, our designs and deliverables – plans, units, systems narratives, pricing, and jurisdictional incentives – are custom-fit.

 

It’s our philosophy that you shouldn’t fight your existing structure to get a conversion made; if you can’t fix it, feature it.

 

Chown Pella

 

Chown Pella Lofts.

 

Approaching each conversion opportunity with this mindset, we analyze the factors that set a site apart, and embrace those unique elements to ensure a residential conversion stands out. With this intricate and involved process, we’ve been able to get over 30 one-of-a-kind residential conversion projects under our belt.

 

Through these past experiences, we have identified six key characteristics that make a project a candidate for successful conversion, and six challenges that may crop up during the renovation process. To learn more about what attributes to look out for and what traits to be weary of when considering a residential conversion, read about our “Rule of Six” here.

 

Jennifer Sanin Headshot Smile Black and white headshot of Jack Cochran, the author of this blog post.

 

By Jennifer Sobieraj Sanin, Design Director of Housing and Senior Principal, and Jack Cochran, Marketing Coordinator.

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Residential Conversion Case Study

February 15, 2024
A Retro Renovation in Sacramento, CA

Converted from a Holiday Inn hotel to a residential apartment complex, 728 16th St. embraces its midcentury hotel past while providing a new take on residential housing. By utilizing strategic efficiencies within the renovation process, Ankrom Moisan’s adaptive reuse and renovations design team contained costs, expedited construction, and completed the project in a sustainable fashion.

 

The Challenge

 

Originally constructed in the 1970s, the site of 728 16th St. had seen better days. Years of water damage to the roof and walls meant the building’s enclosure needed updating. Additionally, because the structure was originally designed for traveling guests, rather than as permanent lodging, many of the rooms lacked the necessary amenities for residential living, such as kitchen appliances and other utilities like washers and dryers.

 

Adding these appliances to the space uncovered unique challenges around the inclusion of proper ducts and plumbing for those utilities.

 

728 16th St. as a Holiday Inn

 

Before: 728 16th St. as a Holiday Inn

 

The Solution

 

Leveraging as much of the pre-existing space as possible resulted in the renovated 728 16th St. building’s unified design. Existing structure, utilities, and MEP infrastructure were optimized by the design team to maximize efficiencies and eliminate the need for a complete tear down. In this sense, the name of the game was understanding the parameters of the site and knowing how to work within those parameters to bring the design intent for the new building type to life.

 

Since the building’s enclosure was updated during the renovation, the design team was given the opportunity to reskin the building with a high performance rain screen system during the update, preventing any further water damage to the structure. This also allowed the team to shift the site’s layout and the location of amenities; the lobby itself was relocated, moved to a more central location of the site.

 

To increase the total number of units, portions of the existing hotel, such as the parking lot and food service kitchen were infilled and connected to the new lobby. Other existing hotel rooms were combined to create one or two-bedroom apartment units, with an emphasis on maintaining the pre-established bathroom layouts, since they contained plumbing fixtures and pipes that would be too difficult to relocate.

 

Rendering of 728 16th St.'s Renovated Design

 

During: A rendering showing what 728 16th St. might look like as a residential housing complex.

 

Addressing the challenges that were uncovered by the lack of plumbing, pipes, and appliance ducts in the individual new and existing units, the renovations team made large-scale adjustments to the height of the ceilings, to accommodate those appliance ducts and plumbing pipes.

 

The Impact

 

By maintaining as much of the original structure as possible and eliminating the need for a tear down, 728 16th St.’s renovation created an expedited development process that ended up being more sustainable than a new build.

 

728 16th St. following its renovation

 

After: 728 16th St., converted from a Holiday Inn hotel to residential housing.

 

Embracing the existing structure, room layouts, and utilities of the Holiday Inn, Ankrom Moisan’s renovations team turned the underutilized hotel space into an affordable-by-design residential project in a desirable area. Shifting the layout and positioning of the site itself allowed 129 new units to be built, both increasing the amount of available housing in the area and diversifying the unit types within 728 16th St., as the original design was repetitive.

 

The fresh perspective on modern residential housing brought to life by the Ankrom Moisan adaptive reuse conversion team sets 728 16th St. apart as a place that remains competitive in new markets.

 

Overall, the building type conversion for this project was successful because the site exhibited at least two of the six key characteristics for effective renovations, otherwise known as the “Rule of Six.” Being situated in a walkable location and having at least a 12,000 square foot plate set 728 16th St. up for success, but a prospective adaptive reuse conversion truly only needs one of the six key characteristics to be a qualified candidate for successful conversion. Read more about the Rule of Six and how to tell if your site would make for a successful residential conversion here.

 

For guidance through the adaptive reuse process, contact Jennifer Sobieraj Sanin, Housing Studio Design Director and residential conversion expert.

 

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By Jennifer Sobieraj Sanin, Housing Studio Design Director.

Contact: +1 (206)-576-1600 | jennifers@ankrommoisan.com

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Should Your Building Become Housing? Critical Considerations for Adaptive Reuse

February 15, 2024
How to Evaluate Your Building's Candidacy for Conversion

It’s the question on every developer’s mind right now. Is adaptive reuse feasible for my building? Cost-effective? What will a housing conversion project entail?

 

Since 1994, Ankrom Moisan has been involved with adaptive reuse projects and housing conversions. The depth of our expertise means we have an intimate understanding of the limits and parameters of any given site – we know what it takes to transform an underperforming asset into a successful residential project.

 

For customized guidance through the adaptive reuse evaluation process, contact Jennifer Sobieraj Sanin, Housing Studio Design Director and residential conversion expert.

 

The Rule of Six

 

While there is no magic formula or linear ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to conversions, we have a framework that should be considered when approaching an adaptive reuse project. We call it “The Rule of Six.”

 

The Rule of Six outlines six key characteristics that make a project a candidate for successful conversion, and six challenges to be prepared for during the renovation process.

 

With this informed process, we’ve been able to get over 30 one-of-a-kind residential conversion projects under our belt.

 

The Six Key Characteristics for a Successful Conversion

 

Not every building is a good candidate for conversion. By evaluating multiple structure types and working closely with contractors on successful projects, we’ve identified six key characteristics that lead to the creation of successful, low-cost, conversions.

 

If a property has any of these traits – whether it’s one characteristic of all six – it might qualify as a candidate for a successful conversion.

 

  1. Class B or C Office
  2. 5-6 Levels, or 240′ Tall
  3. Envelope Operable Windows Preferred
  4. Walkable Location
  5. 12,000 Sq. Ft. Plate Minimum
  6. Depth to Core Not to Exceed 45′

 

To find out if a property makes for a good adaptive reuse project, consider conducting a feasibility study on the site.

 

Reach out to get started on your feasibility study today.

 

The Six Challenges to be Prepared For

 

West Coast conversions can be particularly challenging with their seismic requirements, energy codes, and jurisdictional challenges – your conversion team should be prepared for these hurdles. The solutions vary by project; contact us to see how we can solve your project’s challenges.

 

  1. Change of Use: It’s the reason we upgrade everything. The simple act of changing a building’s use from office to residential immediately triggers a ‘substantial alteration.’ This label starts all the other necessary upgrades.
  2. Seismic-structural Upgrades: Buildings on the West Coast must meet a certain code level to be deemed acceptable for the health, safety, and welfare of end-users. Often, this required level does not match the current code, meaning negotiations with the jurisdiction are necessary.
  3. Egress Stairs: Stair width is usually within the code demands for conversion candidates, but placement is what we need to evaluate. When converting to residential, it’s sometimes necessary to add a stair to the end of a corridor.
  4. Envelope Upgrades and Operable Windows: West Coast energy codes require negotiated upgrades with jurisdictions, as existing envelopes usually don’t meet the current codes’ energy and performance standards. Operable windows are a separate consideration. They are not needed for fresh air but are often desired by residents for their comfort.
  5. Systems and Services Upgrades: These upgrades often deal with mechanical and plumbing – checking main lines and infrastructure, decentralizing the system, and adding additional plumbing fixtures throughout the building to support residential housing uses.
  6. Rents and Financials: Determining how to compete with new build residential offerings is huge. At present, conversions cost about as much as a new build. Our job is to solve this dilemma through efficient and thoughtful design, but we need development partners to be on the same page as us, knowing where to focus to make it work.

 

At the outset of any conversion, we analyze each individual site and tailor our process to align with the existing elements that make it unique. Working with what you have, our designs and deliverables – plans, units, systems narratives, pricing, and jurisdictional incentives – are custom-fit.

 

To better understand if adaptive reuse is right for your building, get in touch with us. We can guide you through the feasibility study process.

 

To see how we’ve successfully converted other buildings into housing, take a look at our ‘retro residential conversion’ case study.

 

Jennifer Sanin Headshot Smile

 

By Jennifer Sobieraj Sanin, Housing Studio Design Director.

Contact: +1 (206)-576-1600 | jennifers@ankrommoisan.com

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What You Need to Know About Biophilic Design

January 31, 2024
The Basics of Biophilia

Biophilia is the concept that there is an innate connection between humans and nature. Our love of nature and tendency to crave connections with the natural world is a deeply engrained and intuitive aspect of both human psychology and physiology. It’s part of our DNA.

 

Building off that concept, biophilic design is the intentional use of design elements that emulate sensations, features, and phenomena found in nature with the goal of elevating the built environment for the benefit of its end users.

 

Simply put, biophilic design is good design. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate; it just has to be intentional. Creating connections to the outdoors in the built environment can significantly impact users’ mental and physical well-being.

 

How Biophilia is Integrated into Projects

 

There are many ways to integrate biophilic elements into a project’s design. Some of the most common methods of doing this have been categorized by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as being either Nature in the Space, Natural Analogues, or the Nature of the Space.

 

1. Nature in the Space

 

Biophilic design that places emphasis on bringing elements of the outdoors into interior spaces would be classified as ‘Nature in the Space.’ These outdoor-elements-brought-inside can be anything from plants, animals, and water features, to specific scents, sensations (like the feeling of a breeze), shade and lighting effects, or other environmental components found in the natural world. They are organic features that are literally brought inside. An example of this could be a project using natural materials like exposed mass timber and green walls covered with living plants to mimic the sensation of being in a wooded forest.

 

2. Natural Analogues

 

‘Natural Analogues’ in biophilic design are human-made, synthetic patterns, shapes, colors, and other details that reference, represent, or mimic natural materials, markings, and objects without utilizing or incorporating those actual materials, markings, or objects. An example of a natural analogue might be the use of spiral patterns in a painted wall mural to link a project’s design to seashells and the coast, the inclusion of animal print motifs in fabric and material choices, or even the use of blue rugs and carpeting to link a site to a nearby river or other body of water. Subtle finishes, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) touches can also be a biophilic natural analogue, like the use of shelves that reference the pattern and shape of a honeycomb. Natural analogues are most often design and material choices that pay homage to recognizable environmental elements.

 

3. Nature of the Space

 

A focus on the ‘Nature of the Space’ on the other hand, pays more attention to a location’s construction, layout, and scale than its FF&E and other accessories or interior design. It utilizes spatial differences, the geography of a space, and other elements of a project’s configuration to imitate expansive views, sensory input, or even feelings of safety and danger that are found in the wild. This may manifest as an open stairwell that embraces rough, asymmetrical walls to subtly mirror the textures of a canyon, or as the inclusion of an atrium to give end-users a perspective that parallels the wide-open views seen from a mountain peak. ‘Nature of the Space’ can also be seen in the use of soft lighting and smaller scale spaces to simulate the felt safety and coziness of a cave. It is the utilization of a project’s site itself to replicate experiences and sensations found in the world of nature.

 

By emulating natural features and bringing the outdoors in, architects and interior designers integrate the benefits of exposure to the natural world into built spaces, creating a unique shared experience for a site’s users.

 

 

A list of biophilic design elements and attributes. 

 

When combined with intentionality and thoughtful design, these elements can transform ordinary spaces into spaces that support human health and wellness.

 

The Power of Biophilia

 

Aside from elevating design, the inclusion of biophilic elements in a project can have numerous positive health benefits for those who use and inhabit that space. Biophilia’s impact on health and wellness may not be something that we are conscious of, but it is a difference that we feel. Humans understand biophilia intuitively.

 

The amount of time humans spend interacting with nature – as well as the amount of time they are disconnected from the natural world – has real, tangible impacts on an individual’s health. In today’s industrial, technologically dominated world, it’s especially important to seek out connections with nature, since many built spaces often forgo biophilic features and the benefits that come with them.

 

The negative health impacts of not having enough connection to nature are:

 

  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep stemming from an unstable circadian rhythm
  • A weakened immune system
  • Poor focus
  • Weak memory
  • Attention issues like ADHD
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased emotional regulation

 

The positive benefits of exposure to nature, on the other hand, include:

 

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Feelings of safety
  • Restful sleep and a stable circadian rhythm
  • A strong immune system
  • Increased focus
  • Greater memory and learning abilities
  • Higher energy levels
  • Increased emotional regulation

 

Knowing the range of benefits that biophilia has the potential to provide, architects and interior designers have the opportunity to purposefully design spaces with the health and wellbeing of its end-users in mind, positively influencing the experience of a location as well as the feelings of the people occupying it.

 

Some of Ankrom Moisan’s expert design teams have already done this, including biophilic elements in the shared spaces of project to elevate the end-user’s experience of those environments. In a follow up blog post, we will take a deeper look at how biophilia shows up in three distinct Ankrom Moisan healthcare projects, discussing how the inclusion of biophilia can be leveraged to support an evidence-based approach to holistic, whole-person care.

 

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Conversations with Bethanne Mikkelsen

December 14, 2023
Featured Articles about the Future of Workplace

Workplace Team’s Managing Principal, Bethanne Mikkelsen, notices the flows of workplaces and simultaneously motivates clients to stay current and inventive. She extends this expertise to our team, but promotes her knowledge beyond our firm to encourage diversity in the industry, as well as maintaining flexible working strategies that foster a culture of inclusivity. To discover more about her perspective, she has been featured in these articles:

 

How corporate office lighting is getting a makeover to boost productivity

Commercial Office Space Must Evolve to Put People First

Own Who You Are and What You Deserve — Women Leaders in Design Weigh in On Rising to the Top and Empowering Others to Do the Same

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New Seattle Development Design Review Exemptions

October 18, 2023
A Performance Option Synopsis

The City Council has amended the land use code to make two important changes to the design review program aimed at encouraging additional low-income housing. The first change permanently exempts low-income housing projects from the Design Review program. The second change provides a new Design Review exemption for projects that meet Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) requirements by providing units on site via the Performance Option under the Land Use Code. Projects that opt into the Performance Option can skip MUP and Design Review and proceed directly to Building Permit where land use code compliance will be evaluated concurrently with other review subjects.

 

Expediated Timelines:

 

Bypassing Design Review and MUP milestones could yield significant time and cost saving on project delivery.

 

 

Schedule comparisons showing how fast the entitlements process can be if MHA units are provided instead of the ‘payment in lieu.’

 

Calculating the Number of Affordable Housing Units Required to avoid Design Review:

 

If a project contains commercial space, the area dedicated to affordable units required to satisfy the Performance Option is calculated as a percentage of the overall applicable area in commercial use. If a project contains residential space, the required number of affordable units is calculated as a percentage of the total number of dwelling units in the project. Developments that contain both commercial and residential space will use a combination of both calculation methods.

 

Performance Amount for Commercial Development:

 

The net unit area of affordable housing required to comply with Performance Option is outlined in Tables A&B for SMC 23.58B.050. The required square footage set-aside for affordable units varies respectively by zone, MHA suffix (M/M1/M2), and performance area intensity as noted in Map A for SMC 23.58C.050. For most zones, the area of affordable housing required ranges between 5-9% of the applicable commercial floor area.

 

Performance Amount for Residential Development:

 

The number of affordable housing units required to comply with Performance Option is outlined in Tables A&B for SMC 23.58C.050. The required percentage set-aside similarly varies respectively by zone, MHA suffix (M/M1/M2), and performance area intensity as noted in Map A for SMC 23.58C.050. For most zones, the number of affordable housing units required ranges between 5-11% of the total number of units to be developed in each structure.

 

 

Table from the Seattle municipal code indicating how many units need to be affordable for a project to be exempt from development design review.

 

Performance Standards for Qualifying Affordable Units:

 

Duration: Units provided to comply with the Performance Option must remain affordable for 75 years from the date of certificate of occupancy.

 

Distribution & Comparability: Units provided to satisfy the Performance Option must be generally distributed throughout the structure and be comparable to other units in terms of: Type of dwelling unit such as live-work unit or congregate residence sleeping room; Number and size of bedrooms and bathrooms; Net unit area; Access to amenity areas; Functionality; and Lease term.

 

Eligibility: Household eligibility varies with unit size and rental date.

 

At initial occupancy (lease-up), units with a net area of 400 sf or less are eligible to households with incomes up to 40% of AMI. Units with a net area greater than 400 sf are eligible to households with incomes up to 60% of AMI.

 

Thereafter at annual certification, units with a net area of 400 sf or less are eligible to households with incomes up to 60% of AMI. Units with a net area greater than 400 sf are eligible to households with incomes up to 80% of AMI.

 

Public Subsidy: Affordable housing units provided to satisfy the requirements of the Performance Option may NOT be used to earn public subsidy such as through the Multifamily Housing Property Tax Exemption (MFTE Program).

 

Rent Levels: Monthly rents for units with a net area of 400 sf or less, shall not exceed 30% of 40% of AMI. Monthly rents for units with a net area greater than 400 sf, shall not exceed 30% of 60% of AMI. “Monthly rent” must include a utility allowance for heat, gas, electricity, water, sewer, and refuse collection, as well as any recurring fees that are required as a condition of tenancy.

 

Annual Certification, Third Party Verification: Every year an owner of the rental unit must obtain from each tenant a certification of household size and income. Owners of rental units shall attempt to obtain third party verification whenever possible to substantiate income at each certification, which shall include contacting the individual income source(s) supplied by the household. If written or oral third-party documentation is not available, the owner may accept original documents (pay stubs, W-2, etc.) At the discretion of the Director of Housing, the owner may accept tenant self-certifications after the initial income verification and first annual recertification. The owner shall maintain all certifications and documentation obtained on file for at least six years after they are obtained.

 

Reporting: Once a year the owner of the rental unit shall submit a written report to the Director of Housing, verified upon oath, demonstrating compliance with Chapter 23.58C. The written report shall state: the occupancy and vacancy of each rental unit, the monthly rent charged for the unit, and the income and size of the household occupying the unit. The Director of Housing may require other documentation to ensure compliance including documentation of rents, copies of tenant certifications, documentation supporting determinations of tenant income including employer’s verification or check stubs, and other documentation necessary to track program outcomes and the demographics of households served. The owner of the rental unit shall pay the Office of Housing an annual fee of $150 per rental unit for the purposes of monitoring compliance with the requirements.

 

 

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By Jennifer Sobieraj Sanin, Managing Design Principal, and Michael Lama, Project Designer

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The Art of Efficiency

September 18, 2023
Six Design Dos and Don'ts for Authentic, Low-Density Apartment Communities

Popularized because of their connection to nature and relative abundance of space, garden-style apartments are lower density, low-rise housing complexes that are typified by their green, garden-like surroundings. Through Ankrom Moisan’s experience designing high-quality low-density communities, we’ve found that successful garden-style design is all about striking a balance. There’s an art to creating a community that is highly livable and authentic, yet also efficient and economical. Based upon our expertise with this style of housing, here are our dos and don’ts for creating successful low-density garden-style communities.

 

 

Do capitalize on site assets.

 

Site plans are everything when it comes to designing unique low-density housing. Before any buildings are designed, take note of site features such as topography, open space, noteworthy views, and existing natural resources such as bodies of water or mature trees. Designing a site plan around these features elevates the design of a garden-style apartment community to be authentic to its location, setting the place apart as a destination with its own identity. For example, at Deveraux Glen the site plan intentionally takes advantage of the surrounding green space by orienting the buildings to maximize views. This is apparent in the irregular perimeter, shown below.

 

 

Capitalize on site assets

 

Deveraux Glen site plan | Aerial of a neighborhood by Erik Maclean

 

 

Do balance the parking. 

 

While parking yield is important, preserving the character of the place is also essential for success. This requires finding a careful balance. Because available parking ratio ultimately determines home yield, and not allowable density, parking drives (pun intended) everything. Efficient footprints like parking must be designed first, with buildings fitting into the site afterwards and conforming to the lot’s parameters based on the home plan. However, that does not mean the parking lot has to be the focal point for a site’s layout. Remember: nobody wants to live in a parking lot. A certain degree of intentionality is required to design a desirable community that has a sense of place and doesn’t just feel like an asphalt lot.

 

Balance the parking

 

North Ogden masterplan | Garden-style development photo by Maahid

 

 

Don’t neglect landscaping.   

 

Use greenery to break up the humdrum of asphalt. Whenever possible, a space of 15 feet between parking and ground-level homes is ideal for garden-style, as it budgets 5 feet for the pedestrian sidewalk and 10 full feet for landscaping. There should also be landscaping between head-in parking stalls. 5 feet is the minimum amount of space recommended, but again, having more room for trees to be planted both screens the car park from above, and improves the quality of the space at ground level. Utilizing landscaping in this way improves the apartment’s sightlines and views for both the ground-floor homes that look towards the parking lot and the upper-story homes looking down on it. While covered parking may improve the visual landscape of a community, taking it a step further with green roofs or alternated landscaping does much more for both the environment and residents. The ultimate goal in garden-style design is to create a place that is as livable as possible to drive absorption, retention, and rent rates.

 

 

Don't neglect landscaping

 

Club at the Park | Parking lot at The 206

 

 

Do consider walkability. 

 

Since garden-style home doors are exterior-facing, the outdoor experience must be carefully considered. Distances between frequently visited areas need to take walkability into account. Remote parking may allow for an increase in home yield but result in a reduction in rent rate. Designers should be very intentional with how far residents will have to walk to get from their cars to their front door, and vice versa. Parking allocation studies need to be done to assign parking stalls to certain buildings and determine whether or not distances and available parking options realistically work. Trash enclosures, too, need to be within a reasonable distance from residential homes and located along a route accessible to trash collection vehicles for removal. By putting forethought into residents’ travel patterns, designers can create a highly livable place.

 

Garden Design Walkability 2.0

 

Meridian Gardens rendering | Kitts Corner rendering

 

 

Do enhance ground-level homes.   

 

Ground level living is perhaps the most important design consideration for low density garden-style apartments. There are a handful of ways to enhance first-floor ground-level homes, the most effective being the inclusion of a stoop at the entrance. Stoops help create a sense of defensible space, and resident identity. Ground level homes also benefit from street elements. Streets are characterized by parallel parking and sidewalks, whereas parking lots are based on 90-degree parking, which means that light from cars in parking lots are angled directly into ground-level windows and the amount of land dedicated to the car is the greatest. Ground-level homes often receive the short end of the stick, so giving those homes extra thought can go a long way for improving the resident experience. 

 

Enhance ground-level homes

 

Stoops at The Villas at Amberglen West | Ground-level porches at The Arbory

 

 

Don’t underestimate the importance of identity.   

 

Develop an encompassing identity for the entire community through a central amenity. As the heart of the place, the amenity building reinforces the character of the site. Surrounding spaces should support that identity through the quality and character of their architecture and interior design. Don’t shortchange design fees here; It’s better to spend up on the club house and economize elsewhere than to forgo the identity established by a central amenity. 

 

Identity amenities

 

Clubhouse at Seasons Apartments and Farmington Reserve | Clubhouse at The 206

 

These guidelines are only a brief overview of some of the key principles to creating successful garden-style communities. There is a tremendous level of consideration of the specifics of a site when translating these principles into a successful design. What it all essentially comes down to is hiring an architect who understands these design principles and how to apply them to create efficient, high-quality communities. And of course, having beautifully maintained greenery doesn’t hurt, either.

 

 

 

By Don Sowieja, Principal-in-Charge

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An Interview with the Oregon Chapter’s 2022-2023 IIDA President, Clare Goddard

August 31, 2023

I sat down with Clare Goddard, now Past President of the IIDA Oregon Chapter to hear about her reflections on the 2022-2023 Board year.

 

 

Q: What has been the most rewarding part about being IIDA President?

 

A: I am going to miss the chapter leader conferences. There’s something so powerful about connecting with other IIDA leaders across the region and the US and being able to commiserate or learn from them (or just make new friends). Even though you don’t get a weekend, I always come back feeling excited to tackle a new challenge.

 

For my term as President, I think the most rewarding part was being a catalyst for change in how the board operates. Having the board willing to not continue with the status quo and embrace change was exciting; not only because it lifted a huge weight off my shoulders, but I feel I was able to make my mark on the IIDA Oregon chapter.

 

I also credit IIDA with keeping me sane and connected when we were all remote – especially during lockdown. Being a part of IIDA and having an outlet outside of work helped to fill my cup and to build my network. I am truly so grateful to be part of this design community.

 

 

Q: What would be your best tip for balancing or prioritizing IIDA and work, life, etc.?

 

 

A: I’ve always had a very clear division between my work and my home life, and those boundaries really helped me in my presidency as well. I had to be aware of my To Do List- I had to get detailed and ask myself what I can accomplish today. What can I realistically accomplish this week? And how am I going to divide that up?

 

I also set strict hours for myself – capping Ankrom work at 40 (no overtime) and trying to do IIDA work after dinner or on the weekends. I really had to focus on prioritizing and stick to those priorities.

 

I think there were sometimes when there was not always the balance that I would have liked between work, IIDA and personal life. In the end though, I was able to find that harmony – and harmony to me is such a better word than balance because balance to me is like one side is always winning and there is more effort in just making them equal. Harmony means that you’ve found some way to make both your personal and your professional life work together and neither one is weighted.

 

I was also incredibly lucky in my presidency to be able to work 100% remotely from home. That has also allowed me to be more flexible and to be better able to create that harmony. Flexibility is key- being able to make my schedule work for myself.

 

 

Q: What has been the most challenging experience during your presidency?

 

A: It was the first six months of my presidency before I took a step back and asked the question “why”. Why did we operate the way we operated?

 

At that time, I was so overwhelmed and felt like I was letting everyone in my life down because I was stretched so thin and felt like I was not making a difference – that I was just trying to keep my head above water. I was just going from event to event, from meeting to meeting and not really accomplishing anything. And then I just had this moment where I realized, I was the president and could make a change to improve how we operated and the president’s role in general. That I could change it, and that I needed to change it. I immediately felt a sense of calm and empowerment. How can we make the Presidency better, how can we make the Directors’ positions better? Giving everyone – including me – a sense of agency to give back to our design community in a more thoughtful way.

 

 

Q: What have you learned while being the IIDA President, skills or experiences, that transfer to your work or have helped you grow in your role here at Ankrom and then specifically on our Workplace team?

 

 

A: The biggest thing being IIDA President has helped me with is delegation. I realized that I could lean more on my team and that I do not have to do it all. I also got to use my business degree – so reusing a skill that had been gathering dust – since running an IIDA chapter is like running a small business. In running that small business and planning multiple events, I was also able to practice my project management skills.

 

The other skill I got to work on was networking and relationship management. As IIDA President – attending both local and national events – I am the face of interior design for the state of Oregon (as our mission statement says). Therefore, when I am at these events, I need to network and act accordingly to make sure that I’m supporting sponsor relations, board member relations, and in general making sure I am representing the organization to the best of my abilities. And I think that’s directly applicable to my role at Ankrom, that when I am at work events or gatherings, I am a representative for Ankrom.

 

 

Q: How are you, your partner, and your dog going to unwind after finishing this year?

 

 

A: We have already taken and planned a few trips to get more quality time together! We took our girl Millie (dog daughter) on her first camping trip a few weeks ago – Millie even SUP’d for the first time. And then in October after the Design Excellence Awards are done, Jacob (partner) and I booked a week trip to Sedona, AZ. We haven’t been on a long trip since I became President, so we’re going to take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, go hiking, mountain biking, go to a spa, enjoy some wineries, and eat some yummy food.

 

Also, since I will now have free time, Jacob bought me ceramics lessons at a local pottery studio. I am excited to pretend I am on The Great Pottery Throw Down!

 

 

Thank you, Clare, for an amazing year- I’ve loved watching you be the President with such grace and honesty, both as a colleague and as an IIDA board member!

 

Clare Goddard, Senior Associate Interior Designer

 

Emily Feicht, Interior Designer

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Conversations with Michael Stueve

June 30, 2023
Featured Articles about the Future of Workplace

Our very own Michael Stueve, Workplace Principal and UI/UX Strategist, is always thinking innovatively about the future of workplace and is also eager to share his values that shape his experienced perspective behind workplace design. Not only has he recently developed “The Office as an Ecosystem” strategies, but he has been featured in these articles:

 

Senior professionals discuss current and future potential for AI in architecture

Tips For Designing a People-First Workplace

Seattle Magazine: Inventing the Future (available in print only)

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Ankrom Moisan’s Healthcare SPAKL Team – Big Focus on Small Projects

June 6, 2023
A Conversation with Kimberleigh Grimm, Associate Principal

The SPAKL team is Ankrom Moisan’s thorough and decisive resource for solving complex and challenging Healthcare project designs. Looking beyond initial or obvious facility concerns and truly partnering with clients for a better understanding of the maintenance and equipment upgrade projects are salient to their success.  

Kimberleigh Grimm, Associate Principal, discusses the scope of projects that the SPAKL team undertakes and the challenges that these types of Healthcare projects often present. Kimberleigh’s excitement about and enjoyment of this topic is palpable. She is representative of the strengths and enthusiasm that the SPAKL team brings to the table. 

 

 

Ankrom Moisan’s Healthcare SPAKL team designing together

 

 

Q: What is SPAKL? 

 

A: SPAKL is a subset of the Ankrom Moisan Healthcare team that focuses on specialized, problem-focused healthcare projects. It stands for Special Project Alterations Knowledge League, and it is a team that is experienced in (and committed to) maintenance projects in healthcare systems. We don’t wear capes or fly faster than a speeding bullet – our super-power is the knowledge, enthusiasm, and fun that we bring to this type of project work. 

 

 

Q: How long has SPAKL been an AM Healthcare team feature? 

 

A: Maintenance projects have always been the core of our healthcare team’s work. SPAKL emerged from internal conversations about creating a focused team with a depth of knowledge in acute healthcare renovation work that is dedicated to increased efficiency, both for us, and our clients. Each project builds on knowledge gained in previous work to enable the next to be even more successful. 

 

 

Q: How and why does AM Healthcare SPAKL approach differ from other firms’ approach to similar projects? 

 

A: Most firms aren’t truly interested in maintenance or equipment replacement projects. They accept this work to leverage the client relationship for bigger, “better” projects. Because these projects aren’t really valued by most firms, they typically assign less-experienced staff that don’t understand the intricacies of the projects. 

 

This is not AM’s approach. We like what we call the “dirty jobs”. We like them because we understand that they are just as important to a healthcare facility as a new build or a full clinic remodel. We developed the SPAKL team around these types of maintenance projects, and our team is highly experienced in healthcare renovations. We understand the sophistication of these projects in terms of improved patient and staff experiences, reducing construction disruptions and maintaining continuous operations, and understanding existing conditions. We also understand that these projects usually have tight fees (and tighter schedules) and leverage our knowledge and experience with each facility and jurisdiction to maximize efficiency.  

 

Another way we differ from other firms is that we genuinely enjoy this type of work – we love the complexity and the fact that each project is a unique experience.  

 

 

Q: What makes a SPAKL project unique to other Healthcare projects? 

 

A: We like to say that SPAKL projects are problem-focused, not project-focused. There is a wide variety of projects ranging from equipment replacement projects to maintenance projects to make-ready projects, but the one thing they have in common is that they are intended to address a specific facility concern.  

 

Unlike a typical project that is tasked with helping a facility re-imagine an aspect of their operations, we are problem solvers. Aging equipment? DOH citations? Safety or infection prevention concerns? We evaluate the existing conditions and work with the facility to come up with efficient solutions. 

 

 

Washer/disinfector installation; Sterilizer replacement

 

 

Q: What is the biggest challenge when organizing around the client’s operations? 

 

A: Every project is unique and has its own challenges. Sometimes the challenge revolves around how to minimize disruption during construction. This can range from minimizing infrastructure shutdowns to reducing construction impacts in terms of activity and noise. For example, one project might be concerned about noise impacts to adjacent NICU patient care, while another project’s main issue is minimizing the number of electrical shutdowns required over the project. The key to navigating this is to listen and ask essential questions to fully understand the facility concerns.  

 

 

Q: What does it mean to “treat them with care”? How do you do that? 

 

A: At AM, SPAKL projects are as significant to us as bigger, fancier projects. SPAKL projects may never generate pretty pictures or win design awards, but they are critical to the functioning of a facility. Replacing outdated equipment increases throughput, improves patient outcomes, and improves both the patient and staff experience. That is critical. 

 

We treat each project with the same care that we bring to the larger projects that we work on. We believe user engagement is crucial, and we work from the beginning to bring the users into the design process so that we can understand both immediate and long-term objectives and concerns. Our style differs from other firms in that we don’t do presentations before the user groups, we host discussions – and we consider the Facility to be the experts in that discussion. It is an open dialog intended to lead us to the best solution. The Facility knows their patient populations, they know their current concerns and what things are working and what is not working. They know what they like and what they do not like. We listen and have an open dialogue, and that is how we get to the best solution for each project. What is right for one facility is not necessarily right for any other facility. 

 

 

Meeting discussion documentation 

 

 

Q: What are the methodologies that you’ve found most useful? 

 

A: SPAKL projects often have tight budgets, and we use a lot of tools out of the LEAN toolkit. We feel that actively involving users in the design process leads to better engagement and better outcomes. For example, rather than providing design options and asking users to pick one, we like to have tabletop exercises where the user group can propose design options of their own and then discuss them.  Which means, rather than us telling the users what we think the design solution is, the users are engaged in the design process to test their own ideas. In the end, the user group becomes the best advocate for the final design because they feel ownership of the project and feel heard throughout the process.  

 

We also feel that an early and deep dive into existing conditions is key to a successful project. Existing drawing documentation is great, but it is only part of the story. We want to really understand the totality of existing conditions so that we can anticipate potential problems and address them early in design. You will never hear the words, “we can figure that out in CA” from a member of the SPAKL team. Never. 

 

 

Full scale cardboard mockup; Tabletop exercise

 

 

Q: What are some memorable experiences you’ve had during a SPAKL project? 

 

A: Some of our most memorable projects are also the ones the facility might prefer that we not discuss. And client confidentiality is vital. However, the best thing about SPAKL projects is the variety of work. Every project is unique and has its own set of challenges. It’s one of the things we like best about the work…every week is a new adventure.  

 

One week you may be working on an infant security project and a PET/CT replacement project, the next week you might be working on a central sterile renovation and a sink replacement project. Every project we work on builds a bigger picture of the facility and helps the next project be more efficient. 

 

 

PET/CT room

 

 

The collaboration that the SPAKL team has with clients is unique and illustrative of the solution-focused approach they are becoming known for. Listening, cultivating deep understanding, and involving the client with the hands-on problem-solving all inform this team’s success, not only on these specialized projects, but with the growing number of clients that return to work with AM for further Healthcare facility updates. Observably, Kimberleigh brings energy and inspiration to the SPAKL team, and has forged a path of thorough discernment of what makes a Healthcare facility project complex and important for the community it serves.  

 

 

Kimberleigh Grimm, Associate Principal 

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