A little bit of life

As our office fit-out continues, we've made a little progress on transforming our little patch of urban wilds. A friend and neighbor has cultivated a little vegetable and perennial garden, and we've carved out some space for our signature bamboo! We're looking forward to late summer barbecues out here in the future!

Community Development Internship

Back in Spring we were approached by Brett Dunlavey from Brown University regarding an internship project. He is pursuing a degree in Urban Studies and is aiming to one day work as an inventive and conscious developer of healthy and vibrant communities, places, and spaces. This was a perfect fit at StudioMEJA as we were just beginning to step over the threshold into the future Atlantic Works in Olneyville and needed to start familiarizing with the layers of the interesting neighborhood.

Over the course of three months Brett and Sasha  conducted a few studies of Olneyville from a variety of perspectives: examining online data and google earth imagery, walking on the ground and observing the fabric of the neighborhood, and meeting with the variety of incredible organizations and individuals in the neighborhood that aim to create and strengthen good health and equity. The studies, made into presentations, allowed the rest of the team at StudioMEJA to form an understanding and generate discussions on the maps and diagrams. Our meetings with the community were not only informing us on the inner workings of Olneyville but also served as a sort of introduction to the community that asserted our neighborly intentions. 

The exploration and conversations also opened us up to the ongoing events and planning charrettes in this part of Providence. Having an awareness of these events allows us to get involved and expand the dialogue regarding the development and redevelopment of our city, for instance the 6/10 Connector Redevelopment, which could have an incredibly profound influence on Olneyville (a community currently enclosed and isolated from the rest of Providence by elevated highways). 

Brett's internship concluded with an open-ended discussion on how StudioMEJA should move forward and what kind of projects could be situated within the firm to be an integrated and crucial member of the Olneyville community. Now that we have introduced ourselves we are looking forward to getting further involved with some of the excellent organizations working tirelessly within Olneyville.

 Brett's final review and discussion of his findings and observations

Brett's final review and discussion of his findings and observations

 Understanding the urban fabric, the organizations working within it, and the community discussions

Understanding the urban fabric, the organizations working within it, and the community discussions

 A hand traced map outlining existing organizations, greenways, natural resources, and future proposed developments

A hand traced map outlining existing organizations, greenways, natural resources, and future proposed developments

 Looking down Manton Ave at our future building with the fantastic towers of the Atlantic Mills complex rising in the background

Looking down Manton Ave at our future building with the fantastic towers of the Atlantic Mills complex rising in the background

 Excited to be on the River Greenway Bike Path! 

Excited to be on the River Greenway Bike Path! 

 A diversity of small businesses and mom&pop shops make Olneyville the lively and multi cultural place that we love

A diversity of small businesses and mom&pop shops make Olneyville the lively and multi cultural place that we love

 Good to make new pals through good work

Good to make new pals through good work

Nowell Academy

Situated within Olneyville and adorned with an inspiring mural by Matt Dean, the Nowell Academy serves the Olneyville community in an invaluable way. It is a charter school that delivers a hands-on educating to young adults facing significant challenges in life. The walls of the school are strewn with constant reminders of personal and communal empowerment and a keen awareness of our environment and the power of our imagination.  

Transom, a local group of makers, approached us to collaborate on an interior renovation that will address an existing auditorium space. Custom designed and built architectural components will enable the auditorium to convert into smaller flexible learning spaces. 

We're excited about working with Nowell and Transom and looking forward to seeing it all come together!

Saving the Bits of Nostalgia

An old building often has a few cool bits of nostalgia that don’t always fit with a post-renovation identity; that’s why Sina Almassi and a partner in crime decided to visit the job site and save some old letters that were getting removed from the future AAA dispatch center. While he is still thinking for the ultimate creative project for them it’s good to keep the history alive and in artistic use. 

To a Good Neighbor

A long overdue THANKS! to our friends at the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council for taking care of the tags on our building during their annual Clean Up event. While we were preparing drawings and permits for the renovation the WRWC rallied volunteers and the Providence Graffiti Task Force to clean up the walls. Being right next to the excellent Riverside Park and on a prominent intersection our building serves as a sort of Gateway to the park area. We are looking forward to being involved!

 Volunteers cleaning the tags off the building during the Clean Up Day in April. Photo taken from https://www.facebook.com/WRWCRI/

Volunteers cleaning the tags off the building during the Clean Up Day in April. Photo taken from https://www.facebook.com/WRWCRI/

 Photo taken from https://www.facebook.com/WRWCRI/

Photo taken from https://www.facebook.com/WRWCRI/

Lighting Selection

We are proud to be working with our friends at Pax Modern for some of our lighting specifications at our new Aleppo Street office.  These are some great, thoughtfully modern designs that fit our post-industrial building perfectly! 

They are handcrafted in the USA- which allows for great quality control & eas(ier) customization. 

 

https://paxmodern.com

 

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Aleppo Street Ghost Sign

We discovered this very cool painted sign inside our future conference room at our Aleppo Street fit-out. It was from when this wall used to be an exterior wall for the Van Arpin moving company.  

We talked historic into letting us preserve this as an artifact (usually interior surfaces like this would be required to be covered in drywall).

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Metals to Pups

Metals to Pups

 

My Lucky Dog” just opened their newly installed doors for business, and it’s a great pleasure to see and share the transformation of this industrial warehouse space into something pleasant and playful. The project, though small in scope, was quite meaningful both to the client and the designer that had the pleasure of working on it.

“This was the first project I got to execute from start to finish and enjoyed the collaboration with our client/contractor. As an aspiring architect I am pleased to see that the simple shift of a wall can energize a space and I am particularly excited to hear the client’s happiness and proud to have participated in her dream of opening up a daycare for pets. Can’t wait to see how the exterior develops in a few months!”  

-Sasha Azbel                                                                       

 View at entry

View at entry

 Before: first site visit

Before: first site visit

 After: first week after opening

After: first week after opening

 "My Lucky Dog" owner, Melissa Punchak, with one of the pals

"My Lucky Dog" owner, Melissa Punchak, with one of the pals

Belly of the Beast

Most people comfortably live and occupy their rooms and offices without much worry or fear of the gruesomeness beyond the surface of their walls. Most of us don’t realize that we are only idling within voids bound with weird columns, beams, pipes and ducts -the veins and arteries of the monsters we call “buildings”. 

When you wonder into the secret corners and layers of an old building you find yourself next to all sorts of tubes and the unplastered, unpainted, and unrefined structural insides of the elderly creature.  Like anthropologists, tomb raiders, and surgeons we crawl around these hidden, cobwebbed spaces, stumbling on forgotten history, illuminating the belly of the beast. 

 An old map of the world in the attic of a former school building

An old map of the world in the attic of a former school building

 This roof space made us realize that this particular building once had  arched double-story height windows, they were covered up with an addition

This roof space made us realize that this particular building once had  arched double-story height windows, they were covered up with an addition

 Basement guts

Basement guts

The Newspaper Find

Beneath the roof of the Union Bank Trust Building is just enough space for some adventurous designers and architects to crawl around for a few measurements. One finds many interesting artifacts in such spaces -cigarette buds, old soda cans, nuts and bolts- but one certain piece of trash turned out to be particularly curious, a newspaper dating back to 1928! During this time the building was receiving an addition and this set of news must have been one of the last things added as the roof was getting raised.  

Windows and Guardians

If our eyes are windows into our souls, than the windows in our buildings must be the eyes into the soul of our world – our communities, our streets, the trees and the birds, the wind and the sounds, the rain and the sun. The warm light emitting into the streets from our rooms, the hover of people over dinner, the blue glow of evening television shows, all satisfying signs that even after sunset we are living and flickering. At night the moon comes in, prodding you relentlessly before you fall asleep.

As Architects and Designers who are fortunate to operate with old buildings (with large magnificent windows) we guard the sacred apertures, always placing walls such that every inhabitant can spend their life in connectivity with the world.

 

 Windows at  Cromwell Mills  on first site visit. Photo credit:  Anastasia Laurenzi

Windows at Cromwell Mills on first site visit. Photo credit: Anastasia Laurenzi

 Test fitting new windows at  Cromwell Mills . Photo credit:  Anastasia Laurenzi

Test fitting new windows at Cromwell Mills. Photo credit: Anastasia Laurenzi

 Finally new windows being installed at  Cromwell Mills . Photo credit:  Anastasia Laurenzi

Finally new windows being installed at Cromwell Mills. Photo credit: Anastasia Laurenzi

 Discussion on the most prominenet feature of the building during a construction administration meeting at  One Cedar

Discussion on the most prominenet feature of the building during a construction administration meeting at One Cedar

 View out from  One Cedar

View out from One Cedar

 Double height windows in the stairwells looking out at a 100 year old tree at  Kendall Dean school in North Smithfield

Double height windows in the stairwells looking out at a 100 year old tree at Kendall Dean school in North Smithfield

Kendall Dean | Time and Symmetry

“The symmetry between our thoughts and actions is the effectiveness to which we perform.” 
                                                                                                                     -Gladys Adevey

 

Kendall Dean School, situated on a hill in the historic district of Slatersville, Rhode Island is elegantly symmetrical, wonderfully detailed, and is fortunately one of our newest projects. It was built in 1936, and a true pleasure derives from looking at its woodwork and fenestrations.  Before the time of air conditioners and Fluorescent tube lights, the doors, transoms, and windows were the guardians and facilitators of light and air, even into the internal corridors of the building. The simple and balanced organization of the building guides us as we consider the daily experience of its future users, the details inspire us to act with sensitivity and certaintynostalgia, and yet like school kids we search for the right moment to sneak in something out of the ordinary.    

A New Adventure

We just closed on this architectural gem- an 1850 gasometer with a 50ft rotunda! In addition to being our office's new home, we've got big plans-- creating a hub for other design entreprenuers and developing accessible community art-spaces.

 

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