The project: a Mixed Use Building for Ann Arbor. The building will necessarily be a part of the downtown, but based on its scale, it will not be a cornerstone. The context
of Ann Arbor is strongly historical, but the local context is modern and the adjacent buildings have broken all ties with their historical neighbors, except for the use of contextual brick. Therefore, while the solution must be compatible with the downtown area, the design of the mixed-use building is governed primarily by its own needs. Building on the understanding developed with a precedent study and preliminary concepts that a separation between functions and definition of the
units of a mixed use building is necessary, the final solution clearly articulates individual elements. The details of each function are designed to support the element itself, therefore maximizing each function. However, that which was taken for granted in preliminary concepts, the integration of the articulated functions, is fundamental to the final design. This is achieved by carefully composing all elements while looking at the sum, maximizing each element while using
its secondary influences to support the other elements and to help to define their space. This can best be explained by examining the critical elements of the composition and their effects on the whole. The need to concentrate the commercial and office functions as edges on Liberty and Fifth, respectively, is expressed by articulating the form of these two elements as a triangle, achieving maximum frontage on the streets with a given area. This triangle, however, also
shelters the residential lobby and protects the green residential plaza. The angle defined by the triangle divides the "building space" into public space fronting on the streets and private space sheltered by the triangle.
The office, which is optimally detached from the confusion of the street yet linked visually to allow access, is projected above and forward from the retail. A vertical cylinder expresses its access connection. The office's
projection, in turn, defines and holds the retail space, and reduces the scale of the retail facade to form a transition between the historical low commercial buildings to the West and the massive arcade of the Hobbs and Black building to the East.
The residential tower, which is optimally protected from direct exposure to the busy environment of the surrounding urban space, is raised on the columns of a recessed common residential floor, and is rotated 45 degrees expressing
it as an element which floats above the urban space, connected with only private linkages. While the commercial functions of the building are defined by a traditional straight grid, the foreign element to the CBD, the residential tower, is governed by a rotated grid. More importantly, the rotation of the residential tower acts to divide the "building space" between retail and office. The void created by the rotated tower defines the retail space, but by using the
tower to create the spatial emphasis necessary for strong identity instead of a street-level element, the retail can now support the commercial edge of the block and achieve optimal visibility without obstruction.
The strong interrelationship of optimally articulated elements creates a mixed use building which reads coherently while still allowing the articulation of elements necessary for each to be maximized. The building, a composition of elements, is unified by its
interconnections. In a sense, the meaning of composition defines the architecture.
The geometry is simple and readily understandable. At the same time, the depth of the interrelationship of the simple geometrical elements creates a lasting quality and interest, and gives life to the architecture. [continue]