DCP students redesign location of Burrito Brothers
June 29, 2012
Nine teams of University of Florida architecture students and recent graduates took part in a design competition last month in which they got a chance to redesign an area known to just about everyone in the UF community: the building where Burrito Brothers is currently located.
For anyone unfamiliar with it, Burrito Brothers is a longtime campus tradition – alumni even have their burritos shipped to them all over the country.
Burrito Brothers is currently a tenant in the building that houses the Presbyterian and Disciples of Christ Student Center, located at 1402 W University Ave., which is no longer in use by the church.
Local development company SC Ventures I LLC is planning to extensively renovate and expand the existing building into a socially vibrant retail center.
“It’s a really good location,” said David Selznick, BABA 1999, JD 2003, MS 2003, partner at SC Ventures, who frequented Burrito Brothers about twice a week during his undergraduate years. “But we needed to do something to invoke emotion and to change it from just a spot into something that’s architecturally significant and generates some attention and noteworthiness.”
That’s where UF architecture students come in, he said.
Students from the School of Architecture at the College of Design, Construction and Planning were asked to put forth concepts to transform the identity of the existing building and create a design focused on building identity and sustainable concepts.
Specific elements included: a bus stop shelter, south, east and north façade streetscape, a new roof deck and stair.
Stephen Bender, ARC 1993, principal for MW Bender Architecture and adjunct assistant professor of architecture, headed up the one-week event titled “University at 14th Design Competition.”
“The property is incredibly visible as it is directly across from campus, especially Library West,” Bender said. “It has an identity already as a church-like building, so a part of the challenge of the project was to try and change that identity for the new use.”
The competition, which was sponsored by SC Ventures and Gainesville Real Estate Management Company, Inc., aimed to challenge architecture students to engage with the space and activity surrounding the campus by offering a chance to work on the project they helped design.
“The student work was incredible – with a broad range of solutions and use of recycled materials,” Bender said. “One team reused washing machine drums to create a great lighting affect and another created a really interesting lattice structure made out of recycled lumber and bottle crates that reinterpreted the standard parapet wall.”
The first-place winners, architecture students Elaina Berkowitz, BDES 2012, and Roland Faust, ARC 2012, with their entry titled “U14,” received the unique opportunity to help design, develop, fabricate and build the winning design through a paid internship with MW Bender Architecture, in addition to a $3,000 cash prize.
“The first-place winners completely answered the questions of the competition – theirs was a comprehensive solution,” Bender said. “And, additionally, they had a solution that was creative and seemed very buildable.”
Second-prize winners Mayur Patel, ARC 2012, and Sagar Desai, ARC 2012*, received a $500 prize for their entry titled “Brick Oasis.”
Selznick encouraged other local developers to get involved with university students for design purposes.
“We always thought that this is something that should be the first of subsequent projects involving students,” he said. “Hopefully other developers will take our example, build from it and tap into these resources. Everyone benefits: we get great ideas and they get a real-life work experience.”
The redevelopment project team includes developers Keith Crutcher and Selznick, both partners at SC Ventures; and design-build providers Joey Mandese, BCN 1991, and Joe White, BCN 1991, contractors and partners at Mandese White Construction; and Bender, who is architect of the project and supervisor to Berkowitz and Faust at MW Bender Architecture.
“The team has been actively involved in the design competition and designing a project that is both feasible and significant for the Gainesville and university landscape,” Selznick said.
Project completion is anticipated for the summer of 2013.