Mlicki Offices Earn AIA Columbus Award

A local adaptive reuse project has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects’ Columbus Chapter for its outstanding design, shining a spotlight on two thriving small businesses.

AIA Columbus today announced that offices designed by Columbus-based Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design for Mlicki, a branding agency also based in Columbus, are one of 10 2010 Design Award winners. Six Honor awardees and four Merit awardees (which include the Mlicki project) were selected from 49 entries.

“The architect achieves an exciting transformation of two traditional residential structures into one expressive of a contemporary graphic design practice,” says Jay Chatterjee, former dean of the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning at the University of Cincinnati and Design Award juror.

As Chatterjee noted, the Mlicki offices, located at 1847 W. Fifth Ave., are the result of a renovation plus an addition to two adjacent residential buildings. Work on the project began in June 2008 and wrapped in January 2009.

“The reinterpretation of these structures as a commercial office use while retaining their essential residential  forms  also created a transition from the adjoining suburban residential neighborhood to one side of the site to the urban commercial retail strip on the other, preserving the character of both,” says JBAD principal Jonathan Barnes.

The two structures are unified visually and functionally through two components: a connecting structure that serves as both entry and circulation spine, and a spherical void carved from the buildings’ center, creating a singular point of spatial reference and orientation for the building, he says.

Sections of the roof between the gables were infilled to increase usable area without increasing the building’s footprint and to introduce additional daylight to the dark interiors.

The two-story connector, with a translucent,  glazed roof, is a source of daylight for the interiors, filtering and reflecting light through new interior openings to the adjacent workspaces.

“A new stair and second level bridge provide an efficient, centralized point of circulation,” Barnes says. “New, extended sightlines produced by the interior openings create a more collaborative work environment and provide tightly-framed views into these areas for visiting clients to discover.

“The building’s exterior has been reclad with dark gray cement board and stainless steel rainscreen, providing a continuous wrapper and singular identity for the existing, varied forms of the two structures.”

Mlicki is, predictably, very pleased with the finished product.

“The result is a modern space with a touch of age and experience,” says Ron Mlicki, the firm’s special projects manager.

“It has been an exciting process and reflects what we do as a creative team,” he adds. “Clients feel it as soon as they pull into the driveway and walk in the building.”

The other nine projects honored by AIA Columbus this year are:

  • • The International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C. designed by Moody Nolan and Antoine Predock Architect PC
  • • Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta designed by Moody Nolan and Antoine Predock Architect PC
  • • Dubai Mall Medical Centre in Dubai designed by NBBJ
  • • The ThinkHouse in Jaffrey, N.H. designed by Eric Thompson
  • • Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation in Pittsburgh designed by NBBJ
  • • Hollister Flagship store in New York City designed by Meyers + Associates Architecture
  • • University Hospital Expansion and Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. designed by Karlsberger
  • • Grange Insurance Audubon Center in Columbus, Ohio designed by DesignGroup
  • • Stolarczyk Residence in Columbus, Ohio designed by Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design

All photography by Brad Feinknopf.