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UNLV Libraries -> Architecture Studies Library -> Las Vegas Guides and Collections ->
AIA Nevada Design & Service Awards Archive -> 2008 awards



Entry number: COL08012
Project Name: Urban Infill Block Party
Building Type: Educational
Completion Date: January 2008
Architect:  Jack Hawkins/Baron Hershberger
Building Location: 529/531 Cheney St., Reno, NV

Design Team:
Landscape Architect: Laskin & Associates
General Contractor: MB Construction
Structural Engineer: Gabbart & Woods
Civil Engineer: Gray & Associates
Interior Designer: Carpenter Sellers Architect
Photographer: ASA Gilmore/Ruckus Arts

Narrative/Project Description:
Project Identification Number: COL 08012
Name of Project: Urban IntlII Block Party
Project Category: 2008 Triptych Collaboration Award
Type of Project: Urban ION Residential
Completion Date: January, 2008
Type of Construction: Type VB
Materials Used: CMU, wood, metal siding, wood siding, glass
Building Area: Existing homes range from 1,000 SF — 2,000 SF; New construction: (2) units 1,000 SF (2) units 1,400 SF

The Urban Infill Block Party has been anything but a party. It is the culmination of many like-minded people pushing the envelope of their expertise to produce a unique project. Paolo Cividino of Tutto Ferro was the first one to take the plunge into a then rough, older section of Reno. The area is filled with older homes built in the 1930's on 7,000 SF lots. Paolo began renovating his home in the middle of the block almost eight years ago. It is now a beautiful property on the interior as well as the exterior and yard. Paolo's vision helped inspire Baron Hershberger, an architect moving from San Francisco, to purchase a house adjacent to Paolo's home. Hershberger was working for Hawkins and Associates at the time. Jack Hawkins had become friends with Paolo through several construction projects. Hawkins and his wife wanted to downsize after their two children left for university. Hawkins and Hershberger envisioned building two contemporary, small, sustainable residences that would overlook Hershberger's home. The southern exposure and views of the Sierras were perfect.

Problem #1 first arose from the Planning Department causing Hawkins and Hershberger to rezone the property to increase the density. The problem became an opportunity for Hawkins to purchase the property west of Paolo's house. This was a derelict rental that could have continued in its decline. Hawkins renovated the existing 1,100 SF home with a full basement into an energy-efficient, modern bungalow that he and his wife lived in for a year during construction of the town homes. Hawkins decided to develop two units behind his house, as well the original two units behind Baron's home. Paolo used the brick from Hawkins' detached garage to face his new garage in his backyard: the ultimate recycling.

Problem #2: The rezoning was approved after a three-month period. After a short celebration, the process of parceling began. A year later, and an incredible amount of effort and money, the parceling was completed just before ground breaking.

Problem #3: Rising construction costs, unsophisticated appraisers, and lending institutions. Enter Darin Murphy of MB Construction. Even though Hawkins' and Hershberger's two town homes were slightly different from the two speculative town homes planned for development by Hawkins, Murphy saw an economy of scale by building all four units, but staging the construction. The speculative town homes were always a few months behind the private town homes. Murphy was brilliant in his staging of construction and keeping the construction time down to six months per each two units.  This saved interest money. Costs were further contained with good project management between Murphy, Hawkins, and Hershberger. Quality was ensured with many sub-contractors that Hawkins had experience with from prior projects.

Murphy was open-minded and creative with sub-contractor selection, and self-performed much of the work. Enter Paolo Cividino of Tutto Ferro once again. He performed all of the steel fabrication on the exteriors and interiors of all four units. He and Hawkins collaborated extensively to ensure quality as well as being cost conscious. This was the only sub-contractor that was not competitively bid. Paolo took extra care of all the steelwork as the work was for friends, as well being visible from his own back yard. His craftsmanship and artistry added to the unique character of the projects. Ben Wilborn of Wilborn Woodworking had the same attention to detail on Hawkins' personal residence with the cabinetry and countertops. In essence, Hawkins and Wilborn collaborated on cabinetry that resembles the tolerances used in boat cabinetry.

The collaborative effort of all these individuals, as well as other good sub-contractors, Planning Department staff, supporting wives and friends, has made this a very rich but difficult experience. All of the units are occupied, as well as the existing houses. There is a sense of community with shared landscaping. Many dinners have been enjoyed on balconies, as well as in Paolo's back yard, complete with an authentic pizza oven. The sense of community has climaxed with a neighborhood grant to install a community garden/orchard on a derelict back yard of the residence adjacent to Hershberger's town home. The core of this block has changed from three derelict old homes with weed-choked back yards to seven households with maturing landscaping and a community garden/orchard.

This group was committed to a collaborative team effort to create a part of Reno that is sustainable, affordable, attractive, and well constructed without sacrificing design excellence. This project, as well as a few others in the neighborhood, has helped this area teeter toward becoming a desirable, affordable place to live in Reno once again.

Sustainable description:
Sustainability was the primary focus of this urban infill project. The project is in an older part of Reno with homes on Cheney Street constructed in the 1930's and 1940's. The project is sensitive to the existing streetscape. The older homes were renovated and made into energy-efficient, desirable places to live. By developing the back of the properties, density has increased without sacrificing the character of the street. Where there were once three run-down homes and three derelict back yards, there are now seven households and beautiful shared landscaping. The Truckee Meadows Water Authority was very supportive with the density increase and waived additional water rights purchases. The existing small homes have been made more energy efficient by adding R-40 insulation in the roof joists and by replacing inefficient windows, appliances, lighting, and mechanical systems.

The new construction was designed with sustainability as a top priority. Bucking the real estate market, the unit sizes were purposely kept small (1,000 SF for two units and 1,400 SF for the other two units). All of the building envelopes are thermally efficient with R-21 + insulated walls, and continuous rigid insulation that tapers from R-30 to R-45 at the ridges. Also, 1" dual, low E glass in thermally broken aluminum frames provides daylighting and thermal gain. Artificial lighting is only required at night.

ll units have 80% of their glass facing south toward the spectacular Sierras. Sunlight penetrates deep into the units in the winter months and is captured and stored by concrete slabs, and is kept off the glazing during the summer with large overhangs. Each unit has many operable openings for the temperate climate of Reno. All roofs are a thermoplastic single-ply membrane which is white in color to reflect heat gain in the summer.

The new construction is of a high caliber not seen in urban infill projects in Reno. All exterior materials are durable, sustainable materials. As much as possible, the steel used is recycled steel. The engineered wood framing is composed of micro-laminated beams, TJI joists, and sturdy studs. The projects are well constructed for durability. No painting is required on the exterior, and the interior paint has low VOC by PPG. Flooring is concrete, sustainable bamboo, or certified recycled hardwood flooring.

The projects have energy-efficient appliances and mechanical equipment (13 SEER) with two of the units having in-floor radiant heating warmed by an instantaneous hot water heater. These two units utilize evaporative cooling in the summer. One of the occupants in these units has had 80 cent per day electricity costs for the month of July and has maintained a cool, comfortable home. The two units radiantly heated will have 4' x 10' hot water solar panels installed by fall that will provid 85%-95% of the heating, ans well as all domestic hot water. These same two units are also prepped for net metered solar voltaic panels.




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Material in ASL Library: Form Core Boards, Project Description Form, Exteriors Photos, Location Map, Site Plan, Floor Plan, and Interior Photos

These images are low-resolution reproductions of the images provided for the AIA Nevada Design Awards. All materials should be considered copyrighted and may not be reproduced or used without permission.

Monday, 17-Dec-2012 10:50:05 PST