Lincoln’s Block 68 | Lincoln USA | Design Workshop

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A tired surface parking lot in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska will soon become an oasis of activity at the corner of N and 11th Street. Design Workshop out of Denver, Colorado is working in coordination with Shepley Bulfinch Architects to transform this unproductive space into a hardworking, active city block.

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The project consists of over 300 residential units atop ground floor retail, including a grocery store, a bank and other essential goods providers. The robust streetscape has an average sidewalk width of 22 feet and includes custom designed seating elements, over 50% tree coverage and a green storm water infrastructure system that will capture and treat over 75% of storm water from the surrounding streets and sidewalks, as well as some from the building’s roof. Drought tolerant and native plants and trees will replace the current sea of asphalt and concrete and its 98% impermeability and 2% tree coverage.

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This project is unique to Lincoln in that it offers a highly amenitized urban living option that is not currently found in Downtown. A spa, gym, study room, and game room all seamlessly bleed into three elevated terraces that dominate the second floor. Consisting of nearly an acre of space, these roof terraces hold an impressive amount of program and resident amenities within their elegant forms. The north terrace consists of long custom bar seating adjacent to the terrace edge that offers a unique place for study and play. This seating, along with the cascading wisteria vines that reference the nearby historical Haymarket District, offers a street-to-terrace relationship that will activate N Street below. The north deck also features two outdoor concrete Ping-Pong tables, a grilling shelter, a fire pit, and a host of movable and fixed seating options. This active area is separated from a more passive quiet space adjacent to the study room by a large curved planter packed with beautiful saucer magnolias.

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An open air breezeway with large wooden plinths for reading and lounging and an indoor/outdoor fireplace connects the north deck to a central courtyard with its own character. This courtyard is surrounded by windows and consists of a large open synthetic turf area, a series of porches to the six largest residential units and a striking pavement band that implies the circulation of this flexible space. By using suspended pendant lights the design team reduced the amount of light shining up into the adjacent units and created an attractive nighttime roof effect. The residential porches are surrounded by reclaimed brick walls held together by galvanized gabion cages that relate the landscape material to the building.

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The southern terrace, connected to the gym by a series a series of floor-to-ceiling doors, is the most heavily planted of the three spaces. A split level terrace that was balanced among structural engineering, architecture and landscape offers a different design expression from the other two terraces featuring sinuous curves. A miniature birch forest comprising three species of birch trees of various sizes surrounds a seating nook and a curving access ramp. A grilling area is the main program feature of the lower terrace, while a small pool and large hot tub dominate the upper terrace. A raised planting bed on the southern edge of the space screens the adjacent buildings and offers distant views to the Nebraska state capitol and the expansive horizon of Lincoln.

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This is one of two Design Workshop projects currently happening in Lincoln, Nebraska. The other, just a few blocks away, is an amazing retrofit of the existing P Street retail corridor. Both projects provide measurable environmental and social benefits to the city of Lincoln.

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Lincoln’s Block 68 | Lincoln USA | Design Workshop
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Designer (Landscape Architecture): Design Workshop, Inc. | Jamie Fogle, Joshua Brooks, Chad Caletka
Consultants: (Lead-Building Design) Shepley Bulfinch Architects, (Civil Engineering) Olsson Associates, (Structural) PK Associates, (MEP) Morissey Engineering
Client: Argent Group and Campus Acquisitions
Image Credits: Design Workshop, Inc.

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