Dec. 22nd Season’s Greetings from Studio Luz Architects

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To our Dear Clients, Colleagues, and Friends,

As we close out 2020, we are writing with a sincere message of gratitude and optimism for 2021. This has been a year of many difficult circumstances and unprecedented situations. We are thankful that we were able to work with you through these challenges and accomplish many of the goals we set together. There is certainly much more work to be done as we strive to create work that exceeds expectations and continues to inspire.

Studio Luz is proud to have been part of a number of projects and initiatives this past year. We are actively working on affordable and environmentally responsible multi-family housing throughout Boston’s neighborhoods with TLee Development, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corp. and Urbanica. All of which are striving to meet the City of Boston’s Carbon Zero initiative and the ambitious Passive House standards for energy performance. We also have an inspiring historical renovation and new residences rising in Bay Village with our long valued clients TCR Development and JB Ventures. Another project which is so very important personally, and to the community, is Sociedad Latina’s new building renovations on Mission Hill, finishing up in early 2021. Looking ahead to the spring, we are thrilled about our upcoming collaboration with Boston artist Marlon Forrester on the Dewitt playground renovations as a vital public space. This is all-important work for the communities our projects serve, and a true honor to be part of their well-deserved success!

We are also happy to be serving our professional and academic community, Anthony Piermarini is serving on the Boston Society of Architects Board. Hansy Better Barraza will be teaching a seminar on Women in Architecture and Urbanism at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in joint appointment between Architecture, Urban Design, and Planning. Centered to the studio’s mission on design accessibility and equity, the principals have co-authored an essay titled “Work to Do After” to be published in the Cornell Journal of Architecture. These many facets of our practice inform how we approach the discipline, and we are thankful to be engaged in these pursuits with each and every one of you.

All of this work is collaborative and cannot be achieved without support from our incredibly talented and tireless staff! Jeanine, Ivan, Jason, Damian, Iris, and Youngju, have contributed amazing things to this practice. This team works with rigor, intellect, respect, grace, and good-natured humor in all that they take on. Lastly, our collaboration with the various talented Clients, Contractors, Engineers, and Professional Consultants is greatly appreciated as we create more opportunities to work together. Architecture is a collaborative enterprise, touching so many aspects of the environment, the city, and people’s lives, it is only through strong teams that we realize our aspirations.

On behalf of Studio Luz Architects, may your holidays be bright and upcoming New Year be prosperous!

Sincerely,

Hansy Better Barraza, AIA LEED AP BD+C & Anthony Piermarini, AIA

Founding Principals 

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!

Jul. 24th Moving Up in Scale: Studio Luz Multi-Unit Housing

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We approach the design of urban housing not as just an aggregation of unit types or even just a single building, but as a set of homes for families, groups and individuals. Through housing design, one is able to reflect upon how people live, and how these types of buildings contribute to the health of the urban environment. Every housing project must respond to the lifestyles of the families that use it. It must attract and accommodate diverse family types and structures. Community responsibility, sensitivity to historic contexts, [either by mandate or culture]  as well as integrating landscapes are evident in some of recent projects featured here.

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25 Piedmont Street 

The project is made up of 8 new residential units in the historic neighborhood of Bay Village. The project consists of four townhouses and four apartment units, the organization of the unit types is articulated in the massing of the building to strengthen interior and exterior relationships. The corner of Piedmont and Church Street has an interlocking massing of large windows that respond to the stacked flats, and create large open windows connecting to the neighborhood. Row houses are expressed through the projected bays and individual entryways. The design incorporates a play of brick patterning that further articulates the units and relates to the overall historic character of the neighborhood. Studio Luz worked with TCR Development on this project.

 

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111 Dorchester Residence

Located at the major intersection of Dorchester St.  and West Broadway in South Boston, this residential development  helps to fill in an underdeveloped commercial lot. The proposed four story building would bring 8 new residential units to the area, and contribute to the vitality of the square. The new building facade is a simple proportional grid, responding to fenestration patterns found in the area. The building skin is accentuated by an array of fiber cement color panels. The project  includes eight residential units and eight parking spaces. The design of the facade is simple; the dynamic rhythm facade of wood panels accenting the windows creates a strong street presence and identity for the building. Studio Luz teamed up with TCR Development for this project.

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328-334 & 376-384 Blue Hill Avenue 

Blue Hill Avenue, a major (currently mostly vehicular) connector within Boston, has many vacant lots that are being considered for development. Collectively, this new development initiative aspires to make Blue Hill Avenue an active corridor, with spaces for local businesses and new housing. Studio Luz partnered with Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation to develop two proposals for two separate sites along Blue Hill Avenue.

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328-334 Blue Hill

We took the inflection of Blue Hill Avenue as a concept to inspire the relationship of the facade to the street. The subtle bend of the street is reverberated in the building through a façade that angles toward the street, and breaks down the long wall into smaller folded bays, responding to the proportions of the surrounding existing buildings. Floors 2 and 3 are brick, complimenting the coursing patterns of the building on the corner of Blue Hill Ave and Lawrence Ave. The 4th floor, clad with metal siding, is stepped back to give prominence to the 3rd floor cornice line that ties into the heights of the buildings on the street. The building consists of a mix of 20 residential units, commercial spaces on the ground floor with integrated planting areas, balconies and other shared outdoor spaces.

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376-384 Blue Hill

The prior lot sizes have greatly influenced the proportions of the buildings. There is a consistent 22.5 feet rhythm ingrained into the planning logic of the neighborhood. The proposed design respects this grid, and utilizes as a proportional tool to building up a playful stepped façade system of bays. The ground floor retail also steps in and out from the sidewalk, creating deeper spaces for planters and comfortable thresholds to the commercial areas. Floors 2 and 3 are composed of collaged brick panels that showcase the diversity of brick patterns and colors found in the area, at once tying the building into the existing textures of the neighborhood, creating a new brick identity, and leveraging smart construction methods to produce an affordable and beautiful facade. The building consists of a mix of 18 residential units, commercial spaces on the ground floor with integrated planting areas, balconies and other shared outdoor spaces.

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227 Talbot Street

The Stretch of Talbot Avenue consists of many flat roof triple deckers and the New Levedo Building, together creating an identifiable urban street wall. With this comes the challenge of animating the ground plane and making the space of the street friendly to pedestrians as well as automobiles. The buildings along Spencer Street on the other hand consist of multifamily dwellings with bow fronts and dormers. The proposal will reconcile these scales through an undulating facade to create urban pockets and break down the scale into smaller masses that are proportional to the adjacent fabric. We propose a 4 story podium type building, steel framed first floor with concrete slab and wood frame construction on floors 2-4. This initial proposal accommodates approximately 5 retail units, 33 residential units with 24 parking spaces. This creates a 40,022 sf building, with an FAR of 1.85.

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