G BLOC
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles

G BLOC Modern Live + Work

HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles 建築家 として

G BLOC Modern Live + Work is a new speculative, market-rate development in Broad Ripple North Village just a few steps from the Monon Trail at 64th Street/Cornell that includes a mix of commercial office, urban residential lofts, and covered parking.  The name “G BLOCK” was initially a reaction to original properties fronting Guilford Avenue, together taking-up a small city block.  As the project planning evolved, development team changed the name from “G BLOCK” to “G BLOC”.  G = Guilford Avenue.  BLOC = A combination of groups sharing a common purpose, acting together in mutual support.  

photo_credit HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles

The project was initiated by a two-person development team (an architect and a developer), who partnered to lead the acquisition, entitlements, design, permitting, construction management, property management, and subsequent sale … all in-house.  The project fills a need for office space in the area while enhancing community connections and accessibility for a previously under-developed piece of real-estate.  The development has contributed density, scale, vibrancy, tax revenue, a diverse/professional workforce, and creative design to an important community intersection and location promoting its ‘live-work-play’ aspiration.

photo_credit HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles

The team encountered quite a few challenges during the process.  During entitlement phase, team worked closely with BRVA (Broad Ripple Village Association) to address their concerns about parking, pedestrian engagement, and architectural design.  After several rounds of dialogue and a 4th design concept, BRVA voted to support the project.  Planning Department staff however, stayed firm that the proposal was too intense for its location.  With the support of BRVA and other community stakeholders, the Board of Zoning Appeals granted the rezone from C-4 to MU-2.  But with a close vote of 3-5, they denied variance requests for height and clear-site triangle.  So it was back to the drawing board for a final design option!

photo_credit HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
Caption

The biggest design phase challenges were related to the flood-plain, the high-voltage power lines, the stormwater storage requirement, and the height + clear-sight requirements.  How could we navigate the restrictions while still maximizing the site enough for it to work financially AND create a work of architecture?  During the construction phase, inherent challenges remained (lack of staging area/compact site/working around power lines/winter conditions), and new challenges emerged (permitting delays, COVID/construction delays, break-ins/vandalism).  The entitlements process took 18 months, design process 5 months, and permitting another 5 months.

photo_credit HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
Caption

From a design standpoint, the obstacles were an interesting challenge.  From a development and construction standpoint, they were frustrating obstacles.  We were not sure how we would be able to solve what seemed at times to be an insurmountable number of road blocks.  But since the development team consisted of the broker, architect, construction manager, and property manager (who were also tenants), most aspects of the project were run and managed in-house.  The team was determined to make it work and solve the challenges, which they eventually did.   

photo_credit HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles

The site design wedges the footprint into the existing site geometry minus power-line + property line setbacks and clear site triangle areas while finding the right use mix and square footages to hit the required parking count.  From there, the architectural concept and forms focused on highlighting entry, views and natural light.  Building massing was articulated to alternate a two material massing and cladding interrupted by slots (pinwheel concept), with corners focusing views (up Cornell + down Guilford).  We oriented main entry and covered outdoor space to a now-vibrant intersection at 64th/Cornell to address the Monon Trail.  Garage bay access from 64th Street sets-in to allow vehicle stacking without blocking general traffic.  All entryways are sheltered from weather and fitted for flood gates.

photo_credit HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles

Vertical slots house balconies and mechanicals.  Due to flood plain / BFE (base flood elevation) 5-ft above lowest level, we limited main level windows and consolidated openings into 4 total flood gate-protected areas.  We combined “dry” and “wet” flood-proofing solutions for a hybrid, flood-resistant building, which helped result in an elevated level of resiliency.  Also, even with the flood zone hurdles, we still had to meet the transparency requirement, which we did by utilizing the Public Art (green-screen grids) exception in lieu of normally-required openings, which would have required a cost-prohibitive number of flood gates. 

photo_credit HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles

To achieve desired building heights, we raised grade-level surrounding the building and married the architecture to the landscape.  The faceted building façade is reinforced visually with sloping parapet walls.  Then at the base, a thoughtfully-sloping grade continues that motif in complimentary fashion.  Despite the pre-existing and new grade variations, we were able to add and enhance existing sidewalks on all sides of the development – improving community connections and accessibility.  Primary exterior materials (corrugated metal panel and EIFS) contrast to highlight the massing concept.  On the interiors, natural light, site views, and large windows support a simple modern character inside-out.    

photo_credit Structured Photography
Structured Photography

During construction, to compensate for added costs in some areas, we found savings in others.  For example, we cut-short the original stair towers designed to serve a future 4th floor while maintaining features to support an additional floor level in the future.  When COVID hit, progress did slow-down, but we were able to navigate the unknowns and achieve success by mostly sticking to the plan.

photo_credit HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles

Locally-sourced trusses, wall panels, and steel fabrication reduced waste, transportation, and cost.  Continuous insulation and air barrier seals and blankets exterior.  Lightwells + oversized windows illuminate building core and maximize natural light.  On-demand water heaters and high-efficiency HVAC satisfy heating and cooling needs.  Underground stormwater retainage significantly reduces volume/release.  Large structural spans support flexibility and adaptability.

photo_credit Structured Photography
Structured Photography
photo_credit HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles

Despite the challenges, it was a rewarding process for the team to see it through and use the space for their business offices.  Construction cost was $130/sf, including co-working FFE (not including anchor tenant build-out, site acquisition and soft costs).  In early 2023, the building’s anchor tenant purchased the entire building and is planning more improvements to support their ongoing business expansion.  

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photo_credit HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles
HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles

 

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