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There are thousands of ways to compose a structure on a site. Our challenge is to design a 3-story, mixed use building that both responds to the character of the existing commercial strip and feels fresh and contemporary.

We created four massing schemes exploring different approaches to the shape, size, and visual impact of the building. These options all assume the building has a patio space on the southern end and retail spaces along the street, but each varies in the treatment of the facade and the division of the building mass

At the bottom of the page, you’ll find examples of existing buildings representative of the four composition strategies. Please share your thoughts on these different schemes with us in the comments form.

Here is the existing street context at the site:


And here are our four options side-by-side:



Simple Framework: In this version, the facade is organized around a simple structural grid, similar to most historic low-rise commercial development. Variations in the windows, balconies, and cornic heights break down the scale of the facade.



Playful Boxes: This scheme treats the horizontal layers of the building as surfaces to be pushed in and pulled out in a playful way. Here, irregularly placed windows and balconies disrupt the building’s orthogonal mass and generate a unique composition.



Southside Dormers: In this composition, sloping rooflines moderate the building mass on the south end, creating a dormered third-story around the patio. Along the street front, the building is broken up into three distinct masses of different heights.



Iconic Gables: Here two gable roofs rise above the building mass, creating a distinctive roofline. These residential scale roof tops give the building an iconic quality and open up creative opportunities for roof access.




Here are a few reference images of interesting buildings that represent various ways these composition strategies could look when constructed.


1. Simple Framework:


2. Playful Boxes:


3. Southside Dormers


4. Iconic Gables:


What do you think make the most sense for Westcott Street, and why? Leave your comment below: