Brick Avenue Lofts
Bentonville, Arkansas’ population is exploding. It has almost doubled in the last ten years. This has put immense pressure on the city for meaningful infill housing. Brick Avenue Lofts, a 252-unit multifamily infill development, preserves and extends the urban form of downtown Bentonville, creating much-needed apartments in a walkable location. Site amenities enhance these urban connections. A “skinny street” connects J Street on the east end of the site to Central Avenue on the north. This street creates a bike and pedestrian trail, aerial apparatus access, and slows traffic. Since the site is constrained by disjointed land uses and limited street frontage, the focal point becomes the street itself, stringing together a series of neighborhood rooms.
A simple diagram was established that defines the restrained material palette. Brick is placed on facades that address the public realm and site entry, while a cypress rain screen provides a warm, soft backdrop for the private areas used by residents. Both materials require almost no maintenance over their lifespan. A custom brick blend plays off of downtown Bentonville’s official brick color. By mixing other hues and textures into the blend, the brick facades become a tapestry. Brick screens are deployed at building corners where private balconies are exposed to higher volumes of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The cypress was specifically selected from Arkansas and applied as rain screen so that boards could dry quickly, reducing the likelihood of rot and warping.
The mews court is a narrow passage akin to classic California courtyards. Lush landscape provides privacy to each unit while patios, balconies, and lofts engage the space. Breezeways cross-stitch the court and connect to landscaped parking, making it convenient to reach each apartment. Through carefully constructed sequences, the common seamlessly dissolves visual barriers between public, semipublic, and private. The common is a “handshake” to the neighborhood. The preserved legacy cottonwood anchors the space along 3rd street.
The entire multifamily industry is in a constant arms race to have the “biggest and best” pool, gym, and lounge. Here, that model is challenged through carefully crafted details and a calibrated space plan to keep those spaces active but intimate, providing quality over quantity. A conventional clubhouse is a tool for leasing and nothing more. Here, the fitness and club are split by a midblock paseo that terminates on the outdoor hearth. With the fitness in its own building, the club can utilize a series of small spaces to accommodate coworking. Rethinking the garden apartment model requires us to stop thinking about cars and the convenience of parking. Instead, empathize. Create rooms that build community, accommodate healthy choices, and age gracefully.