Rail Yard LoftsEdit profile
‘Rail Yard Lofts’ is more about the rediscovery of ‘enveloped’ or hidden architectural space than about creating new space. By the act of strategic building removal- getting to the ‘bones’ of the original 100 year old brick structures- raw interior and exterior spaces were revealed and transformed into ‘archetypal’ urban living conditions. This is something other than historic preservation- closer to a heart, lung & liver transplant- with the intent to provide urban-loft housing as an adaptive reuse of a 1.3 acre industrial property. Rail Yard Lofts’ is conceived as a secure, hardened-edge neighborhood block of small, clustered buildings with front doors leading to landscaped courtyards & shared passages between buildings. Courtyards & passages form a circulation network, providing residents’ access throughout the community site. The quality of the spaces in and around the existing masonry buildings (and what has been done with them) helps define the sense of place. The craftsmanship of the existing buildings comes through within the framework of the modern construction & mechanical systems; each era’s industrial approach to simplicity. Open steel trusses intersect parallel & above mezzanine walls in some units and frame clerestory windows in others. Reflecting light from new copper pipes & steel mechanical ducts contrasts with the somewhat-ancient masonry walls. The existing built conditions were reduced from an assemblage of connecting roofs, hallways, doors & ramps down to the perimeter walls & roofs of the 5 original masonry structures. Removing the infill framing of the no longer useful connecting roofs revealed the open central courtyard. 29 dwelling units now frame vertical volumes enclosed by high (18’-25’) wood-decked ceilings, exposed brick walls, wood & steel trusses, large windows, clerestories & skylights, natural ventilation, open floor plans & exterior entries (some with roll-up glass garage-doors). Several units open to unobstructed mountain views. The market demographic for Rail Yard Lofts is young professionals & empty nesters. Interior design includes stainless steel appliances, stained-concrete floors and custom designed bathroom vanity cabinets. Utilitarian-simple detailing leading from the industrial aesthetic of the existing building’s details influenced design & material choices. The architect’s ‘vision’ of what was possible to create, and do so, with what we had to work with is what our client has said has been our most important contribution. Our client has also shared with us that the project has exceeded her expectations to create an authentic Loft community built around sheltered outdoor spaces within an industrial neighborhood. We were able to see through the layers of what was no longer necessary to bring out the vitality of the old masonry buildings. This is a unique project in which the removal of what had once been has served to reveal the value of the space inside.