Development kept designers on their toes
One at the North End was a moving target, but construction team members managed to hit it.
The $15.5 million project began as a plan to turn a former tannery site into four condominiums and one apartment building, said Joe Schuchardt, project manager for KBS Construction Inc., Madison.
But plans changed after the economy tanked, severely depressing the condo market.
“It changed the design considerably,” Schuchardt said.
The initial focus on condos was ditched for an apartment and retail complex with 83 residential units and 12,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
Fortunately, Schuchardt said, the shift from condos to apartments came at the beginning of the project — when crews were still working to clean up the brownfield site — so designers had time to make changes.
With that time, designers reconfigured the building layout and the shape of the structure, he said.
“We had a considerable change of game once they went away from the condos,” Schuchardt said. “Sound in condos is a huge issue (so) we had to change wall systems to try to get the number of units they needed and keep the (sound) ratings high so we didn’t have problems with the tenants in the building.”
Even before the change to apartments, designers already had their hands full. The project was part of a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Neighborhood Development pilot program, which required designers learn as they worked, said Eric Ponto, project designer with Engberg Anderson Inc., Milwaukee.
One at the North End was one of only a handful of projects in the country to be included in the program, he said.
Traditional LEED elements such as a 15,000-square-foot green roof and recycled construction materials were only part of the project’s participation in the program, Ponto said.
“This is sustainability in terms of how it is placed in the urban context — proximity to bus lines, walkable conditions, the access tenants have to retail in the building,” he said.
Though the project was often in a state of flux due to the change in focus and participation in the evolving pilot program, construction and design staff members adapted well, Ponto said.
“Some things were still being defined, like proximity to the bus lines, how close we had to be,” he said.
“Things like that we worked through while we were in the process. And it was a new thing, so the learning curve was a little steep for everyone.”