Highlights from 2008 BIA’s Brick In Architecture Awards Competition
Since 1989, the Brick Industry Association’s Brick In Architecture Awards have been one of the country’s most prestigious design competitions featuring clay brick. North American architectural and design firms enter their best projects to be judged by a jury of their peers in several categories, including: Commercial Design, Educational Design, Health Care Facilities Design, Houses of Worship Design, Municipal/Government Design and Paving & Landscape Architecture Design. All entries appear on www.gobrick.com/brickgallery for a two-year period, and all winners receive recognition in a special “Brick In Architecture” insert that is featured in Architectural Record.
This article focuses on several projects that won awards in the Paving & Landscape Architecture Design Category in 2008. Genuine clay pavers have been used in “on the ground” applications with outstanding success since early colonial days. With color retention and compressive strength that surpass concrete-based segmental paving systems, it is easy to understand why the architects and designers mentioned in this article specified authentic, versatile, genuine clay pavers.
As shown here, clay pavers also can play a crucial role in projects associated with New Urbanism because they encourage pedestrian activities through their warmth and sense of place. To learn how the 2008 winners incorporated genuine clay pavers into their designs, please read on. To enter your clay paving project in the 2009 competition, go to www.gobrick.com/architectureawards.
Cady’s Alley, Washington, D.C.
Award: Best In Class
Installation System: Bituminous Setting Bed on Concrete Base
Landscape Architect: Landscape Architecture Bureau
Manufacturer: Glen-Gery Corporation
In the Georgetown neighborhood of our nation’s capital, a single developer issued a daunting design challenge: convert a number of small, disjointed parcels on an historic city block into a unified, hip, mixed-use destination. Five different architectural firms were commissioned to design the buildings, but together, they created a combined pedestrian, retail and residential space where the major open area throughout the parcels is Cady’s Alley, a historic passageway in Georgetown’s industrial past and now one of the “hottest” shopping destinations in the nation’s capital.
Cady’s Alley presented important design considerations. To start, it is different from other “streets” in Georgetown. The streets drain to the sides while alleys drain to the center. With this in mind, the drainage section of the alley seeks to dramatize the passage of water down the centerline to carry the water to the alley’s ends.
Additionally, it was important to the designers to create the alley in such a manner that its historic character and status were respected and celebrated, even though no original paving materials remained in the area. Following the example of the brick and cobblestone alleys throughout Georgetown, the decision to use brick grounded the newly designed alley to its historic past.
Furthermore, it was necessary for the alley to allow for heavy vehicles to make deliveries and remove trash. To facilitate these divergent uses, the sides of the alley were paved in brick turned on edge in mimic of a sidewalk. This edge-laid brick deepens the paving, making it stronger for inevitable truck traffic, while also making the paving pattern more interesting and of smaller, more appropriate scale for pedestrians.
Today, the redeveloped Cady’s Alley successfully blends function and form, creating a hardscape that properly reflects the spirit of its storied, historic setting.
Marion Street Streetscape, Oak Park, Ill.
Installation System: Sand-Setting Bed on Concrete Base
Landscape Architects: The Lakota Group
To recast downtown Oak Park, Ill., as an economically vibrant shopping, dining and gathering destination, officials decided to remove a 1970s-era pedestrian mall in the downtown business district. At the same time, the village kept an adjacent street as a pedestrian mall, and reopened adjacent and adjoining streets to vehicular traffic. Thus began the Marion Street Streetscape project – a nationally acclaimed testament to New Urbanism and visionary planning practices.
Village officials and the streetscape committee decided the pedestrian mall conversion should create a unique space that would rival any other streetscape project in the Chicagoland area. With this in mind, the design team specified all natural materials, such as genuine clay pavers, as well as green building design principles so that the new project would not only stand the test of time, but also would be as environmentally friendly as possible. With extreme durability and sourced through local manufacturers, clay brick pavers were a strong contributor to the sustainable practices used on this project.
The outcome is nothing short of spectacular. The clay brick pavers provide a pedestrian-friendly environment, while easily accommodating the vehicular traffic necessary for the vitality of the area. The Illinois chapter of the American Planning Association selected the Marion Street project for an award in the “implementation of a plan” category of its annual competition, and the Congress for New Urbanism (a national organization that promotes sustainable, walkable, neighborhood-based development) also awarded this project. With an overwhelmingly positive response from the community, the new streetscape will be a showcase for the village for decades to come.
Downtown Streetscape Improvements, Durham, N.C.
Installation Systems: Sand-Setting Bed on Concrete Base;
Sand-Setting Bed on Aggregate Base
Landscape Architects: Kimley-Horn and Associates
Manufacturer: Pine Hall Brick Company
As a result of significant interest in the New Urbanism movement, community officials in Durham, N.C., put forth a plan to improve the downtown corridor. The idea was to make downtown more pedestrian-, bicycle-, and overall transportation-friendly in an effort to attract residents, consumers and visitors. The ambitious project creates an environment of new offices, homes and businesses from existing buildings and urban centers. As part of this initiative, streets and sidewalks were reconstructed using genuine clay pavers.
The city undertook this revitalization with an advantage over other cities: Many of the older buildings, especially tobacco factories and warehouses, were all made of brick and were still structurally sound. To blend with the existing architecture, clay pavers were specified to provide a visual foundation that drew the eye naturally from the red brick of the street level to the red brick of the surrounding restored buildings.
On a practical level, clay pavers were used because of their durability, low maintenance and versatility. For example, they are naturally colorfast and will not fade over time – unlike other segmental paving materials. Clay pavers also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and can be easily removed for underground maintenance and repair. Clay pavers also work extremely well in both pedestrian and vehicular applications, and the variety of available installation systems allows the streetscape to attain a unifying and beautiful look regardless of the conditions of the surface and/or soil underneath the pavement. Put together, this combination of durability, flexibility and versatility leads to superior, long-term economic value.
The aesthetics and functionality of brick pavers has helped set downtown Durham apart from surrounding communities. Residents have embraced the redevelopment, and the pedestrian-friendly design has successfully attracted more interest and investment in the downtown neighborhood.
American Tobacco Campus Historic Redevelopment
Phases I and II, Durham, N.C.
Installation System: Sand-Setting Bed on Aggregate Base;
Sand-Setting Bed on Existing Concrete Base;
Bituminous Setting on Concrete Base
Landscape Architects: Smallwood, Reynolds,
Stewart, Stewart & Associates, Inc.
Manufacturer: Pine Hall Brick Company
For decades, attempts to revitalize the industrial American Tobacco Historic Campus into a thriving mixed-use development had proven less-than successful. In fact, many in the community thought it would be more cost-effective to tear down the old plant, which dates back to 1874, and rebuild anew. However, in early 2002, a local company chose to follow a vision and invest in its community to preserve a significant part of history on which the community was built.
The major aesthetic goal for this project was to create an active, exterior environment that turned the campus into an exciting place while still preserving its historic character. Selected for its ability to unify the redevelopment, brick with a modern color blend was used as the primary building material. This blend of colors picked up the subtle color influences of the surrounding buildings. Because of the chosen brick’s modular size, the design team was able to create classic patterns with bold geometry that is fitting of a mature, industrial campus. In addition, brick walls, walks and bridges connect the surfaces and amenities to the vertical rise of the brick buildings.
Functionally, brick provides a durable surface that requires minimal maintenance. Its inherent compressive strength works well with both pedestrian and vehicular applications. Additionally, clay pavers’ ability to be installed in a number of different systems gives designers and contractors several options that can all achieve outstanding results.
Today, one company’s vision to rejuvenate a community has come to fruition with the successful redevelopment of a mixed-use “work, play and live” campus. The new environment has served as a catalyst for the area, resulting in continued renewal in the surrounding areas. In short, this project is an outstanding example of building re-use and epitomizes New Urbanism.