Friday, January 08, 2010

Green Design a Major Component to New Restaurant

Concept.0 Eco-Designs, LLC architect Mabel Tweddle held a community forum to preview the design for a new Peruvian chicken restaurant at 3401 Mt. Vernon Ave (street view). The focus was on a mix of sustainability and quality design. Many such restaurants are content to find an abandoned fast food restaurant or a spot in a strip mall, but the owners of this restaurant-to-be seem to want to be more than just another quality cheap-eat. They are enhancing the street scape by building the patio up to the property line and lining it with planters that will be filled with "herbs and flowers". They also plan to provide "green screening" by landscaping the area between their restaurant and a neighboring oil-change shop. Four off-street parking spots will be located behind the building and out of view.

The building itself will be one story with a partial second story outdoor deck. There will be a basement for storage. The building finishes being planned are primarily split-face or polished masonry block (similar to pavers) with a 2-story metal panel cladded entrance feature and an accent color panel system on the front (showed a red sample color at the meeting, but that's not final). There will be ample outdoor seating divided between a patio and a 2nd story deck, which will both be under wood trellises. The design is contemporary urban, fitting in nicely with the primarily art-deco feel of Arlandria and Del Ray.

Sustainable (green) initiatives being considered include low maintenance exterior materials, efforts to retain and treat storm water runoff on site and controlling the lighting so that it creates a welcoming environment without excess brightness. One person recommended they follow "dark sky" practices to minimize wasted light sent upwards that adds to light pollution.

Citizens seemed happy with the potential addition to the neighborhood. Primary citizen comments focused on operational details, such as how they would handle deliveries, trash and recyclables disposal and keep people from walking off site with alcohol. However, there were several comments that could contribute to productive tweaks to the design. The plan includes bike racks in the back near the parking, but after numerous comments expressing interest in keeping bikes within view of patrons, the architect said she would attempt to incorporate that into the design. Another suggestion made by a neighbor with extensive architectural and development management experience was to forgo some of the expensive high tech stormwater runoff management solutions for a simpler underground system that allows water from the property to be collected under the parking lot and slowly infiltrate into the soil following a storm. He stated this solution could save the developers significant investment with a similar outcome.

Both citizens and the architect found it to be a positive and useful meeting. The owners seem to want the restaurant to become a part of the community and something we can all be proud to patronize. The restaurant is up for SUP approval in February. There was no name identified, as of yet. They hope to be open and operational next winter.
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