Located at the confluence of distinctly urban and natural conditions, S. Saunders encompasses a 10-acre area located at the primary entrance and Southern Gateway immediately SW of Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. A combination of retail, office, residential, light industrial, and recreational programs will create a live-work-play community that embraces the character of the existing warehouses and dense vegetation in the area. As a gateway to the city, S. Saunders will create an arrival to Downtown with bold and progressive architecture.
Assembled over three phases, the project begins along the creekfront and builds in parallel layers to create a grain that steps with the topography. Creative collisions of public programming are supported by an active groundscape. Inspired by the steep grade of the existing topography, LOHA approached studying the site planning in section rather than traditional plan-based master planning approaches. This idea generated the opportunity fora series of interconnected, inward facing dynamic surfaces that step with the topography while outward facing static volumes hold private programs above. To strengthen the vibrancy and diversity of the neighborhood, the project includes a range of temporary and fixed uses including pop-up work spaces, startup offices, boutique and commercial storefronts, craft industrial spaces,restaurants, cafes, and creative office spaces.
Structures are sited respective to the existing dense tree cover, allowing the current natural condition to be maintained in combination with the added built environment. Further to this idea, taller structures that emerge from this tree canopy respond to the distant context and take advantage of extensive views of Downtown and surrounding areas, while the public and pedestrian experience at grade is focused more on the immediate context.
Pedestrian promenades and open space sight lines are sliced through the design to produce a framework that prioritizes dynamic social spaces that are generated by and connect to the site context. At its eastern edge, access to the Saunders site visually extends vehicular and pedestrian corridors onto Dorothea Dix Park. The upcoming redevelopment of Dorothea Dix Park will positively transform the surrounding areas, attracting residential, commercial and retail developments along the park edges.
Along the Rocky Branch Creek, the Saunders development enhances pedestrian, bike, and vehicular connections between downtown Raleigh and Dorothea Dix Park. The Greenway trail and Rock Branch Creek, which run along the Property’s northern boundary, will be socially activated with retail and restaurant programs and will provide opportunities for the development to interface with broader ecological infrastructures.
Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA] engages the ever-changing complexities of the urban landscape, embracing architecture’s role as a catalyst for change. Projects by LOHA consider how the site, form, and material decisions can radiate beyond a structure’s boundaries to shape the urban environment, provide essential housing, and enrich society with spaces that support and facilitate culture and community. LOHA has developed a distinct approach as a guiding philosophy for the firm: Amplified Urbanism. As a methodology, Amplified Urbanism reimagines the creative interaction between public and private spaces, emphasizes social and civic connections, and works within existing ecological and infrastructural patterns to cultivate vibrant communities. Amplified Urbanism is developed around three main design tenants—Activated Edges, Strategic Voids, and Bold Materiality—that are founded on the belief that architecture should be a transformative action.