Bonstra | Haresign Architects transformed a 1980s brutalist-like office building in Alexandria, Virginia, into a multifamily residential building.
The re-imagined complex, Park + Ford, includes 435 residential units, parking levels, and a new child care insertion. Amenities in the community include an updated connector building with a social gathering space, private function rooms, a gym, and common work areas.
“There’s so much brutalist architecture out there, [and this project] shows how you can make it look better with the color swatches and the floor-to-ceiling glass,” says one design juror. “There’s going to be plenty of opportunity to take old office buildings, even ones as challenging as the brutalist, and be able to turn it into residential.”
The architects paved underused exterior areas and upgraded those spaces into multipurpose landscaped gathering spots. The project maintained some of the original concrete planters while installing new plants, pavement, and lighting to create terraced social areas. Landscape architect ParkerRodriguez turned the sunken parking court into a water feature surrounded by lush greenery acting as an oasis, and street-level surface parking now serves as a resident dog park.
On the building’s exterior, custom prefab balconies were connected to the concrete slabs, giving private outside space to one-third of the units. Additionally, the existing precast panels from the projecting bay on the Park building were removed, allowing floor-to-ceiling, eco-window walls to surround the projecting bay to give units ambient light.
Each unit includes LED lighting and Energy Star appliances, water-saving plumbing fixtures, individual electric meters, and heat pumps. During the process of the renovation, the building was brought up to the 2015 International Building Code, resulting in an over 40% improvement in energy performance, according to the architect.