CallisonRTKL (CRTKL) has been using of TestFit for a couple of years to get a faster jump-start on projects. Instead of using hand sketches or drafting programs AND separate excel sheets with area calculations and building data, they could quickly get a bird’s eye view of sites from both a design and quantification perspective.
Then, the pandemic hit. Like many architects around the world, projects were put on hold. Unlike other architects, CRTKL decided to get proactive.
They decided to test fit prospective sites and bring them to their developer clients. If it failed, it didn’t take much time to do in TestFit. If it won? Then it could become quite lucrative.
CRTKL contacted the municipality of Brookfield, a suburb just west of Chicago, and inquired about an available site at 9500 Ogden Avenue. Portions of the site
are village-owned and some are privately-held.
They quickly ran a few studies on the site in TestFit to get an idea of capacity and the financial metrics. A couple were promising—centralized around Ogden
Avenue in Brookfield.
The team gauged interest from the municipality and other stakeholders around these sites. Most wanted a mix of multifamily residential and retail, so the team
came up with a few options.
CRTKL took basic ground-level and typical plans with high level data to a few of their clients. For presentation purposes to the municipality, they exported to
Revit (in this instance) alongside the parking and unit takeoffs out of TestFit.
9500 Ogden Avenue aka the South Site
CRTKL was aware of the site due to one of its employees driving by this site and noticing the “for sale” sign every day on their way to the Metro rail station. Eventually they called the Village to inquire about the details. This was a partially vacant site on the South side of town that the municipality wanted redeveloped. CRTKL proposed a mix of residential with parking. The site is adjacent to the Metro rail station that provides an express train to the city in less than an hour—desirable for Transit-Oriented Development.
8820 Brookfield Avenue
An additional site that came up in discussions with the Village is one that the Village Hall occupies but the Village is looking into relocating. The site was irregularly shaped: situated between Salt Creek and Kiwanis Park just North of Brookfield Avenue. It was very difficult to get an efficient building that also had a drive around the perimeter for fire truck access and a drive to the existing parking lot to the North.
CRTKL then brought the sites to three clients: one the team at CRTKL were currently working with, 1 had finished a project with, and another 1 they had worked with previously. Many developers were sitting fairly tight as well, but most were constantly searching for new sites and felt that it was the right time to buy.
Two developers were very interested in the 9500 Ogden site. As a mostly city-owned site, it offered a certain stability in terms of it’s evolution. There was also the potential for TIF financing on this project. One developer eventually decides to move forward with CRTKL.
Evolution of Site A: 9500 Ogden Avenue
Part of the site was owned by the village, and part was privately held. So, consensus of all stakeholders was going to be key. The village was very interested in developing it, and the other owners were interested in selling.
Playing into the close location of transit, CRTKL planned on establishing a mix of residential and retail. At this initial phase, they played with podium vs wrap designs.
The southwest corner of the site was going to stay as it was currently designed, as well as the parking in the northwest corner (for Metro rail parking), so the site plan had to work around them and provide enough parking for both the Metro, as well as the proposed residential and retail uses. The first iteration had parking taking up most of the site.
Based on feedback from the municipality, a multi-story parking lot was a no-go. The site evolved to include shared at-grade parking with retail and residential above.
The team at CRTKL really worked to make the multifamily building as appealing as possible, with a U-shaped courtyard on top of the garage. The first level units have terraces and a pool deck facing Ogden Avenue to the South.
When a developer came on board, CRTKL received feedback on the loading and back of house. There was opportunity to add a bit more retail.
Bringing in Stakeholder Feedback
CRTKL helped to facilitate a meeting with the village board, themselves, and the developer. They used the TestFit & results along with Revit and Photoshop to really make some beautiful presentations.
Here is the first presentation that was made to the village.
The project taught the team a lot and had valuable impact:
- Brought the team closer to their developer client.
- Showed the proactivity of the team to their client.
- Empowered the team to take back some control during uncertain times.
- Became faster and better at site planning with TestFit, as well as getting the sites presentation-ready.