One of the things I love most about working in architectural design is how creative you can be. Working out how to fit a design around local ordinances and code presents a unique kind of challenge, and it’s one that I relish.
I’m working on just such a project at present – a four-plex in the Westport area of Kansas City, Missouri. Initially, the client provided a set of plans for a very straightforward project; a traditional, two-storey apartment building with a stone base, lap siding and gable roofs.
However, things quickly became more interesting as the client’s plans evolved. Sensing an opportunity due to the demand for one- and two-bedroom apartments in the area, they began thinking more strategically about the project. What started out as a fairly traditional design suddenly took on a life of its own!
The client’s intention is to buy more land in the area in the future in order to develop additional buildings there. This means that their initial four-plex needs to have something of a flagship feel, as it’s likely to become the client’s signature style.
To be entrusted with such a vision is a true compliment. I’m delighted to be able to unleash my creativity. The brief now is to design a contemporary four-plex that is home to four two-bedroom apartments, each with its own entrance. Having a staircase in each apartment certainly presents a challenge, but I’m already weighing up different functional solutions to this. The contemporary elements will include a flat roof, fiber cement exterior panels and the maximum glazing allowed by local ordinances and code.
Researching the code and ordinances is an incredibly important part of the process. These will, ultimately, inform many aspects of the final design.
Projects such as this call for plenty of adaptability, as well as top notch design skills. Not only must the four-plex be functional for those living there, it will also need to deliver a design that is at once contemporary and long-lasting, so that it can serve as the template for further buildings for years to come. It’s no small task, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.