Our Perspective: 18 Hour Buildings for 18 Hour Cities

Author: Brian Ward, Director of Design

You may have heard the expression of the 18 hour city: it may not be the city that never sleeps, but it is the one with that street of great new restaurants and interesting shops busy past 11PM, and at 6AM the next morning sees its residents heading to the gym before their first class or business meeting. Recent experience in mixed use student housing design informs us that the complexity and vigor these projects can bring to their neighborhoods can provide services and vitality to the entire community.

Plaza on University

At the front door to the University of Central Florida in Orlando, we designed a 1340 bed project with over 60,000 SF of ground floor retail. Our conceptual thinking is apparent in these before and after snapshots of the site:

Mixed use improves single use. Both-And will always be better than Either-Or in a place that is striving to become a vital urban place.

plaza.jpg

The project becomes an urban village, porous and open to pedestrians moving through and around it.

plaza.jpg

The Landmark College Park

Another university gateway site, this 826 bed project in College Park, Maryland replaced the Maryland Book Exchange, a longtime campus bookstore. Much of the site was used for surface parking, and the new project’s six story massing steps down to three stories to maneuver the smaller scale of the historic neighborhood to the east. Before and after, courtesy of Google:

Originally, the bookstore was to have its new home within the building. Instead, a 15,000 SF urban concept Target store fills the commercial space, providing a more wide-ranging synergy with both the students and the community at large. The resulting project is a better success than either a big box store or a housing-only development would be.

Both of these projects contemplate their place in a future vision of a vibrant, walkable city and reinforce the Millennial’s desire to continue to live in these happening 18 hour spots when they graduate.