Feb. 10th Reflections and News from Studio Luz!

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Studio Luz Project Team (from left to right): Wenda Shen (Intern), Joseph Echavarria (Intern), Anthony Piermarini (Principal), Hansy Better Barraza (Principal), Celeste Martinez (Designer), Dane Clark (Associate)

As we reach the beginning of the second month in the New Year at Studio Luz, we are thrilled to share and reflect our accomplishments in 2016 and the projects ahead in 2017. Before we leap into describing exciting new developments in our firm, however, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the gravity of the election and offer some thoughts on what it has meant to us. After the election, we here at Studio Luz found ourselves in a new political context that challenged us to think more deeply about our values and mission. At Studio Luz we operate with a strong social consciousness, we feel more than ever the importance of the work that we and our peers do here and across the country. We also feel truly proud to serve the clients that we do; who do so much to support individuals, families, and communities. We feel lucky to be part of this community and excited to see what we can all achieve together this year.

 

New project with Sociedad Latina

One of the projects we are excited about in 2017 is the building survey we are conducting with Sociedad Latina. Sociedad Latina is an organization in Boston that supports Latinx communities in Mission Hill and Roxbury through providing mentorship in civic engagement, arts, academic assistance, and family support. To our delight, Sociedad Latina has enlisted our help as they begin to think critically about how their program can continue to grow and utilize their space in Mission Hill in the future. Last week, we conducted focus groups with Sociedad Latina’s board and participants to assess the programmatic and spatial needs for the future and presented a building survey.

 

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Tilt Down Fence

Our 501c-3 non-profit organization, BR+A+CE completed its third project this year: the Tilt-Down Fence. The Tilt-Down Fence was a temporary public art piece that used ladder-like structures that folded down into picnic tables and benches to activate an area adjacent to the Fields Corner bus stop. Importantly, the piece acted as a community-building mechanism in which adults from the Vietnamese and immigrant communities in the area can gather, support, and network at various events – e.g. story time, ice cream socials, and puppet shows – held over the course of September 2016 for families in the area. This project was completed in collaboration with the Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (Viet-AID), Fields Corner Civic Association, and Bloomfield Park Neighborhood Association. The Tilt-Down Fence was funded by The Boston Foundation (Vision Fund Grant), The Awesome Foundation, The Boston Society of Architects Foundation, and Viet-AID.

 

Acorns House at Wellesley College

One very rewarding project that we worked on this year was a renovation for Acorns House, a historic building on Wellesley College’s campus. Acorns House was originally designed by the architecture firm Compton + Pierce in 1955 for the Dean of Students. Acorns House is the new home for Asian, Latina and LGBTQ Advising within the Office of Intercultural Education. The primary challenge was to design a space that could accommodate multiple cultures and be sensitive to the original design intent. Through facilitating focus groups with faculty, staff, and students and contributing our skills as architects, our office was able to design a multi-cultural center that reflected multiple, intersecting identities, created spaces for different required services, and maintained the structural integrity of Acorns House.  

For more images about this project, please visit Studio Luz Architects website.

 

Chestnut St Condominium

We are also proud to announce that we have recently completed a single-family condominium in Beacon Hill. Studio Luz assisted a family of 6 in combining two historic condominiums into a sleek, luminous residence. Together working with FH Perry Builder, Studio Luz designed brightly colored walls, white marble surfaces, and large, flexible glass walls to augment the lighting and capacity of the space. The spaces were designed with transformable furniture as well to accommodate a large family’s need in a unit.

There is nothing more rewarding than the work we do, as it brings together so many people to make for better spaces, better buildings and ultimately better experiences. Thanks to everyone we have worked with and we send our best wishes for peace, health and happiness this year!

Aug. 15th Piedmont Park Square Multi-Unit Housing Project

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Studio Luz Architects is proud to present the Piedmont Park Square project. We are indebted to our clients, TCR Development and JB Ventures for being out-of-the-box thinking developers and gave Studio Luz and the consulting team the opportunity to build the vision into reality. The multi-unit residence is located at the edge of the neighborhood, acting as an urban threshold that bonds the large scale and modern buildings of the city with the small scale, historic, residential fabric of the Bay Village. The project features 4 townhouse style units, 4 row house flats, and 10 sub-grade parking spaces.

 

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The townhouse flats are floor through units, which create stacked living situations. This organization is expressed most significantly at the intersection of Piedmont and Church Street, resulting the corner with an interlocking massing of large windows with the resemblance of a “Dovetail.” The organization of row house units is articulated by “Zipper Course” brick work, giving an individual expression to each of the units. Entry ways are recessed in keeping with the local residences, and the brick facade above the entry features “Stubble Course” brickwork that further demarcates entries.

 

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Sustainable practices were considered during the design process. Brick was used for the exterior skin because it now requires 70% less energy to produce than it did in 1970, it was locally sourced and due to its durability and permanence qualities, it is less likely to end up in a landfill. High performance foam insulation was used throughout the project with the building envelop exceeding code requirements. Sustainable harvested wood, LOW or NO-VOC paints and finishes were used throughout. The project also met Energy Star Standards and met the Massachusetts STRETCH Code.

 

For more images about this project, please visit Studio Luz Architects website.

 

 

 

Studio Luz Architects Updates

This summer Studio Luz office is jammed with diverse people and projects. A recent-grad RISD M.Arch student, Tzu-Yu Su joins the office for summer internship. Iris Kim, a fourth year B.Arch student at RISD, and a team of volunteered weaving artists, Lyza Baum, Siena Smith, Michelle Dunbar, and Isabelle Camarra, and Illustrator, Gina Baek, join for the public art installation “The Tilt-Down Fence,” an immigrant communal project initiated by the non-profit organization BR+A+CE. Series of events such as free ice cream, puppeteer show, and immigrant’s story reading will be happening on the site. Find out more on the project’s blog.

Academically, principal Hansy Better Barraza was promoted to Professor in Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design and was Graduate Program Director. Joined since 2015 Fall as assistant Professor of Architecture at Roger Williams University, principal Anthony Piermarini continues his service at RWU and coordinates first year architectural design, computing, and graphic communication program.

 

 

 

Jul. 15th Charlestown Mixed-Income Housing Project

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Studio Luz is proud to announce that it is on a team of five architecture firms that is taking on the challenge of redeveloping a 24-acre site in Boston’s historic neighborhood of Charlestown. The team includes developers Corcoran Jennison, and SunCalStantec oversees the urban design, master planning and four consulting architectural firms: DiMella ShafferDREAM CollaborativeMarshall Moya Design and Studio Luz Architects. This type of collaboration is certainly unusual — these types of projects are usually awarded to one large planning and design firm. By bringing together a group of architects with different design outlooks, Corcoran Jennison, SunCal, and Stantec have seized the opportunity to create a design think tank of sorts for the master plan of this project. The project is currently in the permitting process and is undergoing a Boston Redevelopment Authority Design Review. This is a phased-out project—Phase 1 Design begins January of 2017 and construction commences in the fall of 2017. Below you will get a glimpse of our design process.

 

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Situated in Bunker Hill, the site is currently home to Boston Housing Authority’s largest public housing development. This development will be replaced with a mixed-income residential building that will include new housing, new and redeveloped parks, outdoor space, new retail and community spaces.

StudioLuz_B08-and-E09-renderThe goals of the collaboration are to meet the development needs for the project, design buildings that respond to one another, respect the historic character of Charlestown, and develop and design in response to the needs of residents currently living in the housing development. To understand residents’ need and anticipation of the project, the team participated in community meetings where residents were able to speak openly about what they valued in their neighborhood and what resources their neighborhood still needed. Some of the most important values that emerged included: public parks, proportions and materials of buildings, modern aesthetics that relate to the existing neighborhood, shops, commercial space for new businesses, access to various basic resources, as well as stoops and plazas for different scales of social interaction.

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At the beginning of the designing process, Studio Luz conducted a study of the seven of the blocks within the site to brainstorm different approaches to integrating outdoor space, incorporating the characteristics of existing buildings in the neighborhood, and using materials and façade systems innovatively. Additionally, all teams worked with a kit of parts that established the range of materials and fenestration and with pre-established plans and heights of buildings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul. 15th Wellesley College Acorns Renovation

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Studio Luz designed a renovation for Acorns House. A historic building on Wellesley College’s campus, Acorns House was originally designed by the architecture firm Compton + Pierce  in 1955 for the Dean of Students. Starting in the Fall of 2016, the Acorns House is slated to become the new home for Asian, Latina and LGBTQ Advising within the Office of Intercultural Education.

The primary challenge was to design a space that could accommodate multiple cultures and be sensitive to the original design intent of Walter Pierce, partner with Danforth Compton at Compton + Pierce. Studio Luz conceptualized the space based on Wellesley College’s mission statement as well as focus groups in which Asian, Latina, and LGBTQ students shared their aspirations for the space and their program. The resulting designs use graphics and textiles referencing different cultures and feminist leadership; the overall effect creates a sense of overlapping, intricate identities as well as interconnectedness. The project broke ground on Thursday July 14 and is scheduled to be open by September 2016.

During Studio Luz’s research it was discovered that Marianne Fisker, life partner of Walter Pierce,  was an artist, designer and print maker who shared similar interests in art and design with Mr. Pierce. The use of textiles in the project thus plays a dual role in the design: at once referencing Ms. Fisker’s design contribution and the current student body’s desire to weave multiple identities into a whole.

 

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Apr. 15th New housing proposal for 16 Ronald St

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The Project

Studio Luz is proud to showcase a housing design proposal in response to the Department of Neighborhood Development’s call for proposals for the development of a 34,415 square foot residential area on Ronald Street. Teaming up with VietAID, Inc and Codman Square NDC, we have proposed two and three story multifamily homes. The two buildings will house 58 apartments, including studios, single bedroom units, and the Senior Community Room. The Senior Community Room is a multipurpose room in which residents will be able to gather for group activities, host events, and/or open the space to the larger community.

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Joining the Neighborhood

The site’s connection to the neighborhood was a crucial piece of the design process for us. Accordingly, we have organized the site around a community outdoor street space that extends the lines of Morse Street. We envision this throughway playing an important role for Ronald St residents, offering them a central public space for recreation, socializing, or an evening stroll.

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Our Residential Philosophy


Ronald St. is the most recent of a series of urban residential projects that are bound together by a common philosophy. We approach the design of urban housing not as just an aggregation of unit types or even just a single building, but as enduring homes for families, groups and individuals with diverse personal lifestyles. Additionally, we believe that all of our projects must be as responsive to the environment as they are comfortable for residents. By incorporating these considerations into our designs, we seek to foster independent living with strengthened communities. The Ronald St. design has developed from this foundation of social responsibility, personal styles, respect for the historic environment, and sustainability.  We will keep you posted if our team is selected for the project — fingers crossed!