Architect: HGA Architects and Engineers
Owner: Mandel Group
Contractor: Greenfire Management Services
Located on a suburban site, the long-closed and vacant Agricultural College is now surrounded by a nature preserve for Monarch Butterflies. Four extremely dilapidated historic buildings remained on the site, some vacant for more than a quarter century. Three of these buildings surround a historic green quadrangle with century-old trees. A major freeway passes by downhill, only ¼ mile southwest of the site.
The developer-driven apartment project contains 180 market rate apartments as well as community gathering spaces, an outdoor swimming pool, gym, billiard rooms and amenities such as bike repair, dry cleaning and a doggie spa. Of the four dilapidated historic buildings, the main building was restored for tenant amenity spaces, while the smallest was restored as a private home. The remaining two buildings were demolished, but memorialized in some way.
A horseshoe shaped grouping of six apartment buildings were placed as a “frame” around the old campus of historic buildings, with a dense and compact layout of new streets, squares and blocks which shields the historic quadrangle from noise and visual impact of the nearby freeway. Within this frame, the main historic building and its green quadrangle were carefully preserved and restored, while two minor and dilapidated buildings were demolished down to “ruins” in the form of walled gardens. Deep historic entry arches-- three in all -- were left intact and are now garden gates. A historic fireplace sits within the garden and is used by tenants for outdoor fires. The walled gardens have been maintained in a rough and “ruinous” character, emphasizing that these are lost buildings, preserved as romantic ruins.
The apartment buildings that form the horseshoe crescent are set lower down the hill from the restored main historic building, and feature underground parking with three stories of apartments above. The top story of each apartment building is accommodated with a steeply pitched roof with dormers to lower the scale of the new buildings and work with the character of the restored historic buildings. While the new buildings match the historic structures through brick and roofing, all new windows and metal work are done in black to contrast the historic crème windows. The new buildings have a simple and distinct contemporary character to contrast the original structures.
Photos: Lacy Landre Photography