My thesis addresses the current issues of office vacancy and the housing shortage. Living in the Portland, Maine area my entire life, I’ve noticed a lot of gentrification happening in the city downtown, including my dad’s little neighborhood he grew up in. I want to create a space where people of all incomes levels have the opportunity to live in.
After a thorough GIS analysis, the ideal site was determined to be 300 Southborough Drive in South Portland. This is only 10-15 minutes from downtown Portland. When adapting a vacant, standalone suburban office building like this one, there are a series of decisions that need to be made to create a successful residential and mixed use environment. There needs to be connections to the existing context and amenities, equitable transportation options, and enough people living there to create vibrancy.
There are also challenges that are inherent in office to residential conversions that need to be remedied or accommodated, like atypical bay widths and long distances from the core to exterior. The when not addressed in the design can cause issues with unit sizes and shapes as well as inadequacies with natural light penetration.
Using the method of carving out an atrium, it allows for daylight to enter into to middle of the building. This language is continued throughout the new buildings to create a cohesive complex. The units are organized in in rows where the northernmost units are accessed through enclosed bridges over the atriums. The ground floor units are accessed through their own exterior front door, like townhouses.
Creating a place with a neighborhood feeling, ample amenities, and unique spaces to explore was the goal of my project.
Mora, Olivia, "Adaptive Reuse of the Suburban Office Building" (2023). Architecture Theses. 129.