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‘The Gateway to Downtown’

Actual phrasing for the parcel at Highland & M.B. Blvd, as billed in local real-estate listings prior to sale.

 ‘Similar in Architectural Appearance to Strengthen the Small Town, Village Atmosphere.’

Excerpt from city planning brief outlining guidelines for all new construction projects proposed within the commercial corridor.


Definition pre-determined and contextual boundaries established (those conceptual and geographical), Project 1 sought queues from site and an ‘extended fabric’ as a justifiable means towards formal autonomy.

Neither ‘Gate Keeper’ nor ‘Piece to Village Collection’ - an initial strategy set forth a series of subtractive & additive sculpting endeavors struck with clear intention onto the surfaces of a ‘Crystalline Block’.

Unearthed tectonic lines linking site to pier in the west and site to civic center to the north were projected onto the block - drawing apart a voluminous wedge at the street level on south and east walls. This void, as enclosed in seamless glazing, was further detailed for a main entrance set back from this face and extending in plane as a remnant of the absent volume.

The wedge as a prism, tapers due north towards the civic center in a focal gesture asking of site, city and casual day stroller for connective consideration. A faceted plaster portal concealing a stair flight behind subtlety details into the prism end so as to minimally influence this experience.

Center lines defining cross-sectional and longitudinal axes of the block intersect the primary subtractive lines and through a rule set, create a pair of cleaving planes which further shape the medium.

Floor two, as an additive strategy, saw a new slab of smooth plaster laid thick over the south and east walls. Relieving into this slab with a high degree of geometric exactness produced faceted wells around apertures, allowing for tonal shades of sunlight to cast against angled surfaces in elongated…. drawn out sweeps to the surface.

Metallic ‘brow frames’ close out these openings, their face surfaces held outwards and in plane with the surrounding plaster surface, again as record of a precise removal of something. As the sole ornaments in an otherwise muted composition, these final dressings of the block announce a hard stop and ‘capping’ of the subtractive sequence.

It’s contained. Static. – For at least today.





Project Credits

​​BFD Team:

​Erik Blanchard, Deborah Fuentes,Peggy Pailian

​Structural Engineer:​​

Melvyn Green and Associate​


4,000 sq ft

​SIte Area:​

2,700 sq ft​


​Mixed Use Commercial





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