PARKING DAY

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in Rhode Island is hosting a nation-wide event known as Parking Day. This city event is meant to publicize and promote the goodness public parks can bring to cities. Each participate rents a parking space downtown, develops a small park design, and constructs the park for use on their rented parking spot for a full day. This year Studio MEJA has obtained a spot, and will be celebrating public space in cities with over 20 other participates and designers. Please join us in promoting public parks, and come hang out at 'Art in the Park'. We are located near the intersection of Dorrance St. and Westminster St; very close to some of our larger projects downtown. The event takes place on Friday the 22nd of September. See you there!!

 Preliminary design proposal.

Preliminary design proposal.

 Quick mock-up to test some detailing.

Quick mock-up to test some detailing.

Seeking Craft

The construction industry is compiled of endless tasks. The question becomes who will complete these tasks… Who will build? As designers and contractors we should seek craft and not labor. We not only ask the question ‘Who will build?’, but ‘Who will take pride in what they build?’ When designing and drawing here at Studio MEJA, we always question how our designs are built. A craftsman is defined as one who creates or performs with skill or dexterity. He or she has experience, takes care in what they do, and understands detail. Our contractors renovating our new office are easily situated in these areas of craft. We work side by side with them, understand any issues, and develop the best possible solution. A craftsman’s best work is completed with full understanding.

 Jose, proudly displaying a finished plank

Jose, proudly displaying a finished plank

 Ramon, doing something he shouldn't on a ladder, but working with craft to create a well finished wall regardless 

Ramon, doing something he shouldn't on a ladder, but working with craft to create a well finished wall regardless 

 Mark, preparing a wall for its finishes

Mark, preparing a wall for its finishes

 Rich, gingerly applying touch-ups 

Rich, gingerly applying touch-ups 

Our Passive Solar Wall

Despite the fact that our AAA East Providence headquarters building is largely an existing retrofit project we still figured out a way to redefine one of its walls to improve the entire building envelope and user experience. We let the natural resources of the site determine the geometry of our windows: The winter sun angles work with the building's windows and awning to create a comfortable cool shade in the summer, while allowing warm sunshine inside the building in the winter. The windows are also designed to capture views of the large trees on the edge of the site, while avoiding views of the parking lot.  

Things really came together when we found the perfect product with which to clad the vast south facing wall- the InSpire panel by ATAS. It is a sleek, perforated, corrugated cladding that "absorbs" and redirects the heat gained from the sun in the winter to help heat the space inside. The combination of designed geometry and the application of the cladding is estimated to help save the building considerable heating and cooling costs, with an estimated reduction of 2.2 tons of CO2 per year during the winter months alone. We're proud to be a part of a movement towards a more sustainable building industry, and happy to work with a client that values sustainability and innovation.

The awning of the building shades the south facing wall from the afternoon summer sun, helping to keep the building cooler.

 Views out onto the tree canopies from the interior, before windows were installed

Views out onto the tree canopies from the interior, before windows were installed

 Windows installed, interiors awaiting their finishes

Windows installed, interiors awaiting their finishes

The winter afternoon sun heats the south facing wall as well as the interior

 South facing wall updates to the wall

South facing wall updates to the wall

 How the InSpire panel works, diagram provided byATAS

How the InSpire panel works, diagram provided byATAS

 South facing wall with InSpire panel application in progress

South facing wall with InSpire panel application in progress

 South facing wall in progress.

South facing wall in progress.

Visions of an Art Gem

Although it has only been a few months since we moved into our fascinating building in Olneyville, we have already started scheming ways to make our site into an evolving, artistic gem in the neighborhood. Olneyville is active with creative individuals working together to deliver bits of wonder to the residents. Recently we partnered with some awesome organizations, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (WRWC) and the Steel Yard to put together two grant proposals for different parts of our site.  We envision our corner of Olneyville to be a constant source of experimentation, discovery, and amazement for the residents and visitors of Olneyville. 

On one side of the building, the Aleppo side, we are working with the WRWC to create a vibrant mural related to local natural history. This mural will enliven the street, and encourage people to travel down Aleppo St towards Riverside Park to explore the park's amengities and the Woonasquatucket River. 

On the other side of our building, the Manton Avenue side, we are joining ongoing efforts to improve public transit stops. We have partnered with the Steel Yard to plan a project that would replace our current fence with a decorative, locally made fence with references to the area's industrial history. Some native planting and a pad for revolving art installations will help make this portion of our site exciting and engaging for the passersby and bus stop users of Olneyille's busiest transit corridor.

While it might take some time for these efforts to come to fruition the sparks for the ideas and conversations have been ignited and the imaginations fully inspired.  

 

"Olneyville's Nature Gateway", a proposal for an environmental mural, fronts Aleppo Street with the aim of activating this iconic corner with community engagement and unique environmental graphics. 

The "Community Art Stop" project assists and enriches existing efforts to create safe and attractive bus stops along Manton Avenue. Our proposal seeks to make this streetscape into a revolving urban art exhibit

Seeing the Addition Rise

It's always exciting to see the foundations of a project materialize from the ground. While the rest of this building is a retrofit of an existing warehouse there is a bit of free play with a small addition that will serve as a visitor entry into the building. We are especially happy to partner with a Providence startup landscape architecture office, Sealand Design to make this an informed and cross disciplinary effort that improves the experience of the visitors to the site. More to come!  

The History of Atlantic Designworks

The Atlantic Design Works complex consists of a mid 1800s Gasometer, and its early 20th century addition. The Atlantic-Delaine Gasworks, built between 1852 and 1864, consists of the 50ft diameter brick rotunda, which was used to hold flammable gas, as well as the adjacent 30ft x 140ft rectangular brick (retort) building, which would have housed the furnace used to heat the coal which released said gas.

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     This illustration depicts a gas manufacturing plant of the 1920s. Still, the general process would be similar to the methods used in Olneyville in the 1860s—1880s. 

This illustration depicts a gas manufacturing plant of the 1920s. Still, the general process would be similar to the methods used in Olneyville in the 1860s—1880s. 

The Atlantic-Delaine Gasworks     1850- 1940

The gasworks was originally built at the same time as the second Atlantic Mill building, and would have provided for the lighting of artificial gas-lamps in the Atlantic Mill Building, as well to light local gas-lit street lamps. The second Atlantic Mill building was able to be twice as wide as the first Atlantic Mill (which relied solely on natural light) because of the availability of this new technology. The gas would not have been used to power the Atlantic Mill itself; the mill was a “steam mill”, originally using a coal-fired Corliss Steam Engine (rather than hydraulic power) to create power for its industrial machinery. Only in the late 1880s was hydraulic power incorporated, when the Atlantic Mill acquired the adjacent Union Mill.

The Atlantic-Delaine Gasometer is one of three surviving gas plants in the city of Providence (one is located in the Elmwood section; the other is in the Wanskuck Historic District). The likely period of use of these buildings as a gas manufacturing plant was only about twenty years (1864-1884), after which the mill converted over to electric-arc lighting. The building originally would have had metallic domed roof, and would have had a capacity of about 27,000 cubic feet of gas. The dome was removed in the early 20th century and replaced with a lower-profile heavy-timber roof.

 

Arpin Van Lines  1940-1980

After the Gasworks outlived its original purpose, it was converted to storage, and in the late 1940s to early 1950s the triangular building at the corner of Manton Ave and Aleppo Ave was built. This building was owned by Arpin Van Lines, a local moving and warehousing, company founded in 1900 which originally delivered ice and coal in the Providence area. The company is still head-quartered in Rhode Island, and now has an international reach, and is one of the top five moving services in the United States. Inside our Conference Room, one can still read the “ghost sign” that would have been painted on the exterior of the building, touting their five warehouses at that time! The building was used as office and warehousing space during this time, until the early 1980s. A vehicular scale was installed during this time period, the exterior concrete pad rests between the two gasworks buildings, and the original scale is inside the lower level of the triangular building. In the late 1950s to early 1960s the “connector” building between the Gasometer and the Triangular Building was added, and the square windows in the rotunda were punched in.

 These painted letters were uncovered during the demolition of the face of this wall, which was at one time an exterior facing wall between the circular and the triangular buildings. We decided to let these letters remain as they are. 

These painted letters were uncovered during the demolition of the face of this wall, which was at one time an exterior facing wall between the circular and the triangular buildings. We decided to let these letters remain as they are. 

 The scale in the basement, it read the weight of the trucks parked on the vehicular scale on the street

The scale in the basement, it read the weight of the trucks parked on the vehicular scale on the street

 Wolf E. Myrow  1980-2000

This 60 year old Rhode Island company is based across Aleppo Street, and used this building, as well as the Retort building as storage for their jewelry supply company. This ties in with the history of Providence as a “jewelry capital of the world”—as it was a manufacturing center from the 1800s through the mid 20th century.

 "ALWAYS NEW STYLES OF EARRINGS" Still reads on one of the walls from the time the buidling was a storage for costume jewelry, a testament to its layered history

"ALWAYS NEW STYLES OF EARRINGS" Still reads on one of the walls from the time the buidling was a storage for costume jewelry, a testament to its layered history

 

Hive Archive  2000-2010

In the early 2000s a women’s arts collective acquired the building, with the goal of it serving as a center for arts-based programming. They acquired a grant from the State of Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission, which they used to restructure the roof—truncating four columns and creating the trussed ceiling which exists today. The group used the Triangle’s former bill-board as an opportunity to display public art.

 One can see where a column was "cut" short and restructured within a metal truss under the ceiling to create a completely open circular floor plan

One can see where a column was "cut" short and restructured within a metal truss under the ceiling to create a completely open circular floor plan

 This public art bill board, installed by the Hive Art Collective, disappeared in a major wind storm as the buidlig was getting remodeled, but we plan on following the idea with another art installation in the future. 

This public art bill board, installed by the Hive Art Collective, disappeared in a major wind storm as the buidlig was getting remodeled, but we plan on following the idea with another art installation in the future. 

 

Studio MEJA Architecture  2015+

When Studio MEJA purchased the building, it was an un-insulated, vacant shell, with non-functional or out-dated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. They have economically improved the building’s enclosure and systems, brought natural gas into the building (which it ironically was never supplied with), replaced the windows and added a common entrance stair from Aleppo Street. The space can now accommodate up to three separate tenants, and we hope it will continue the entrepreneurial and creative spirit the building has embodied over the last 150 years. 

 Before renovation by Studio MEJA

Before renovation by Studio MEJA

 This area, now exhibiting some of its historical signage, with new floors, finishes, fixtures, and treads now serves as the "lobby" and conference area into the Atlantic Designworks. 

This area, now exhibiting some of its historical signage, with new floors, finishes, fixtures, and treads now serves as the "lobby" and conference area into the Atlantic Designworks. 

A Design Excellence Award from the Providence Preservation Society

We are very honored that our Providence G complex will be receiving the 2017 Design Excellence Award from the Providence Preservation Society! The buildings that make up the complex include the Providence Gas Building (1920), Narraganset Hotel Parking Garage (1923), and the Teste Building (1861). The project, located in downtown Providence was completed in 2015 (it took 4 years from the beginning of 2011 until the end of 2014) and has been a lively and happening place since.

We are proud to be listed amongst the many talented and passionate designers working to preserve and and evolve with the rich architectural history of Providence, Rhode Island. Congratulations to rest of the winners! Come out January 25th, to celebrate and hear more about the current architectural endeavors and challenges in the city and "radical preservation" with amazing keynote speakers, Amale Andraos and Dan Wood. The event is free and opened to all, lets keep this conversation alive and keep working on the cities and places we love.

 A historic image of the current day Teste Building 

A historic image of the current day Teste Building 

 The Teste Building

The Teste Building

 Inside the Teste Building residence, looking out onto down town Providence

Inside the Teste Building residence, looking out onto down town Providence

 The Garde De La Mere restaurant at the Teste Building 

The Garde De La Mere restaurant at the Teste Building 

 The Narraganset Hotel Parking Garage

The Narraganset Hotel Parking Garage

 The entry into the G-Pub Restaurant 

The entry into the G-Pub Restaurant 

 The G Pub comes equipped with a bar, plenty of tables, games, and karaoke rooms

The G Pub comes equipped with a bar, plenty of tables, games, and karaoke rooms

 The rooftop restaurant at the G brings crowds looking to lounge within the sky scape of Providence

The rooftop restaurant at the G brings crowds looking to lounge within the sky scape of Providence

Happy Holidays to All!

Thank you everyone that came to our Christmas Party + Open House! It was a great pleasure to see our family, friends, and neighbors at Atlantic Designworks for the first time, exploring our new space and making new connections. Happy Holidays from studioMEJA!!!

 Party prep, Taylor hanging the lights and Kathy setting up the feast (note elaborate beer keg) 

Party prep, Taylor hanging the lights and Kathy setting up the feast (note elaborate beer keg) 

 Finishing touches

Finishing touches

 The 11 is on and the doors are opened! 

The 11 is on and the doors are opened! 

 Noah, age 5, awarded chocolate Santa 

Noah, age 5, awarded chocolate Santa 

 Celia, age 4, created this post modern ginger bread house

Celia, age 4, created this post modern ginger bread house

Charrettes at the Office: AAA New Building

Our First Ground up Project, an AAA in East Providence, is in the works, and the MEJA team got together to brain storm an elegant and striking design. Collectively we were able to push the scheme in an exciting direction while maintaining simplicity in form. The straight forward program, the sun, and the constant flow of traffic surrounding the site act as the guiding forces in shaping the exaggerated and recognizable building, easily read by pedestrian and vehicular traffic. We are planning to integrate eye-catching colors, textures, and graphics that help define the nature of the building as it sits quietly on a relatively open site.

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Find us on your Bike!

We are super lucky. Our office is conveniently and beautifully located on the Woonasquatucket River Greenway, a bike ride that some of us take advantage of during our breaks, as well as our commute into work. The path is an integral part of the connective tissue of Olneyville: it allows people to traverse Olneyville without a car, provides a healthy and pleasant recreational environment, connects people with the natural features and habitats of Providence, and strengthens the community during the numerous Woonasquatucket River Greenway events hosted by the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council. From the windows of our office we see kids on their bicycles and parents with strollers heading to the park, doubtless the existence of this path fills their life with peace and adventure. So put on your helmets and ride straight to our office! 

 Mike and Sasha taking a lunch break ride along the river

Mike and Sasha taking a lunch break ride along the river

 Taylor makes a (roughly) 3mile commute to the office from the East side. Our building also features the beautiful River Greenway to orient cyclists to the path. 

Taylor makes a (roughly) 3mile commute to the office from the East side. Our building also features the beautiful River Greenway to orient cyclists to the path. 

 A map of the River Greenway, the star marks our location

A map of the River Greenway, the star marks our location

The Big Move + A Tribute to the Past

After many months of anticipation we finally packed up our office and made the big move. The team swiftly organized our work-life into boxes and braced for a new adventure. However, before one enters the new lets take a moment to say goodbye and remember the old. It's no doubt we totally outgrew our cozy little space at the Box Office, but we never stopped enjoying the views of the world surrounding it, the long perspective of the railroad tracks and the firefly lights of the rush hour. Here's to the many moods of our old place and a slight glimpse of what new things await. 

 Packing it all up, clearly outgrew that place

Packing it all up, clearly outgrew that place

 watching the lightning storm 

watching the lightning storm 

 watching the snow storm 

watching the snow storm 

 The grays and the yellows 

The grays and the yellows 

 The blues and the purples

The blues and the purples

Uploaded by studioMEJA on 2016-11-04.
 Watercolor effects, sunset was obviously a good time 

Watercolor effects, sunset was obviously a good time 

 The "Huang Swan" named after our old colleague Huang, who moved back to Taiwan. We let Huang Swan go as well

The "Huang Swan" named after our old colleague Huang, who moved back to Taiwan. We let Huang Swan go as well

 Cool shadows and boxy shapes? Yes

Cool shadows and boxy shapes? Yes

 New Beginnings! 

New Beginnings! 

Our first Ground Up Project

For the first time we are working on a free standing building, which means it's not an addition or a fit-out; it is a completely brand new, ground-up building! It will be just beside the East Providence AAA dispatch center we worked on as well -it is currently under construction. It's exciting to address this portion of the Wampanoag trail in East Providence so comprehensively and to be the creative directors and orchestrators of such a large site. We are letting the character of the dispatch center-to-be inspire the new free-standing building, emphasizing exaggerated awnings and a flat, elongated geometry. 

Views of the City

Most of the buildings in downtown Providence are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The view from the roof of 170 Westminster offers excellent views of many of the these buildings and the surrounding landscape. To the South East the award winning Rooftop at the Providence G showcases a large glass roof structure and outdoor seating areas framed by curated landscape. Views beyond include the Bay, India Point Park and the Providence River Bridge. To the West, The 1922 Biltmore Hotel with bold signage and the roofline of Providence City Hall built in 1878. To the North, the iconic Superman Building (Industrial Trust Tower 1925) looks down with its imposing stature. 

Field trip to a Sawmill

We recently sourced some locally rough sawn hardwood floors for our new building, and our curiosity lead us on a field trip to the mill where our floors were made, Thompson Native Lumber in Hopkinton, Rhode Island. 

From the complicated and rhythmic machines that slice and splinter massive logs of hardwood to the confident and precise people that operate the mill, we witnessed the process of  a tree turning into utilitarian products. 

So much saw dust forms and deposits outside the mill that the building appears to be up against a sand dune. This byproduct get collected by horse owners for the floors of their stalls.

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While irregularity in a tree log is not favorable for creating any architectural product these left over slices of tree are sought after by some furniture makers that visit the mill for this purpose

The texture of a rough sawn piece of lumber is exactly as it sounds, rough and expressive of the industrial process it went through

Our guide and mill owner -Jim, took all the time to explain to us the work they do and answer our questions. Clearly he is proud of this family run, decades old, local operation. They source their lumber from within a 100 mile radius.  

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Watching the fierce looking machines at work is both intimidating and mesmerizing; their large, flashing blades move through a hardwood as if it is a block of butter. The machines are loud, it seems the air is filled with tiny particles of wood, and that blades and conveyor belts are everywhere. The people that work every day at a sawmill must have a very good awareness of their space. 

The first step in the mill, once the milling lumber is selected, is the removal of the bark. The tree is quickly turned and tumbled in one spot while a giant "loofa" looking thing scratches and debarks the outer surface of the piece of tree. Here is what it looks like on it's way to "the blade": 

Perhaps the largest and most impressive "monster" at Thompson Lumber is this giant round blade, connected to a small control center, slices the whole piece of trunk into rectilinear forms. 

The misfits and mis-cuts at the mill end up here, at the mulch place. The mis-measured scraps or irregular chunks of wood get digested by this giant food processor on wheels and made into various mulches for landscaping and playgrounds.

To bring the field trip to a fine close the team headed to the coast for some chowder, clam cakes, and beautiful ocean.

Foxboro Fitness Center

The equipment is being installed at the company gym at Schneider Electric in Foxboro, MA! This former storage space will now give employees an opportunity for fitness on-site! 

Demolition Discoveries

A recent site visit to the historic Union Trust Bank building in downtown Providence revealed an original exterior sign from the early 1900s. Discovered during the demolition of the 12th floor, when the ceiling from the 1930s addition was removed. The photograph also highlights the drastic improvements of concrete as a building technology in the span of 30 years.  Similar to the Rooftop at the G building next door, the building owner is investigating designs for a 12th story restaurant with rooftop.  

More light inspiration

We came across these killer fixtures during some project research this week. Seriously considering designing a project around some of these guys!