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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Coastal Living Inspired Tour Home opens:

Our Coastal Living Inspired home tour kicks off this weekend, May 15 in the award winning Habersham Village in Beaufort, South Carolina.  The Tour is open on weekends, from May 15 to June 7th.  Directions and additional information can be found at www.habershamsc.com/inspired.  

The cottage is located in the walkable town center of Habersham, close to parks, restaurants and great events.  The lot shown here 36' wide and is alley parked.  The cottage itself is 1828 sq.ft. with a master suite on the 1st level, a great entry hall, high 12' ceilings and of course, a great front porch.  Up stairs, there are a pair of bedrooms, each with a large private bath.  The home also includes a great out door courtyard and optional garage or garden shed.  

The plan shown is 15 Abbey Row and additional lots are available in Habersham for building the plan along with a similar sized master up plan under construction next door.  Additional information on the Habersham home can be found at www.habershamsc.com/real-estate/#village-homes and plan details can also be viewed at www.plans.brownds.com/sf-2456/.





Project Team: 
Brown Design Studio: architecture, millwork
Jbanks Design:  Interior hard selections. 
Anne Hagerty Interiors: Furnishings.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Award Recognition for Brown Design Studio



CNU Charter and Driehaus Awards


Brown Design has received recognition for two awards at the recent Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) in Dallas, Texas.  Both awards stem from the same project, the Beaufort County Community Development Code. The project received the CNU Charter merit award and the Driehaus Form Based Code Award from the Form Based Code Institute (FBCI).

Congratulations go out to the lead planning firm of Opticos from Berkley, California.  Opticos Principal  Stefan Pellegrini lead the planning/design team and process along with staff from Beaufort County Planning and the Town of Port Royal.  Brown Design was able to assist Opticos in architectural design and local calibration of the code.  

The code is notable for being in a large county with a full rural to urban transect and also unique local conditions.  Additionally, the code was an inter-governmental coordinated effort between Beaufort County and the Town of Port Royal.  The planning design team participated with the local community over the course of many charrettes, workshops and meetings and the code responded with a  set of place-types and transect zones that capture the uniqueness of the Carolina Lowcountry.  


Copyright all images @ Opticos. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Review: Why I Walk: Taking a Step in the Right Direction by Kevin Klinkenberg 2014.

Book Review:  Why I Walk; Taking a Step in the Right Direction by Kevin Klinkenberg 2014.  




Why I Walk is a recent book by Kevin Klinkenberg.  Kevin is an urbanist, architect and planner who has been helping to create vibrant walkable places.  In his book, Kevin compares walking as a primary lifestyle to choosing to live a more automobile oriented lifestyle.  This is a great approach as the idea of choosing to live in a walkable environment is still foreign to some people.  

Kevin thoughtfully explains the many reasons for choosing a walkable lifestyle: Financial, Freedom, Health and Social. These show how freeing yourself from the daily need of a car can improve your lifestyle in ways you may not have expected.  People are so used to sitting in heavy traffic for 60 minutes each day that they forget that they have a choice and that there are alternatives.  What if you walked 7500 steps a day just going to work?  Your body would be in much better shape even before you hit the gym after work.  What if you put a car payment into a great house in a great neighborhood and rode a bike to work?  

Kevin helps the reader to imagine things differently from the old school, post World War 2 suburban dream, which has grown into something more resembling a nightmare in many places.  The millennial generation is the first to see a decline in automobile ownership. They are choosing instead to live in walkable urban places. And it's not just the young who prefer this approach. One of the hottest trends in senior care is creating or integrating with walkable urban neighborhoods for new projects.  Seniors generally cite freedom and social engagement as the leading characteristics that appeal to them in urban projects, just as Kevin describes.



The overall tone of the book is one of a humanistic explanation of why you would want to walk and how that will affect your life.  Kevin relies on both facts and figures and creative anecdotes from his own life and fairly addresses the challenges of walking (like rain!).  

Having just made the choice last year to relocate our office and myself into the core of historic Savannah, I can relate on a personal level to Kevin’s book.  Why I Walk is spot on in showing how a predominantly walking lifestyle can change the very nature of your life for the better.  I highly recommend this book to everyone, but especially to people who are designing or planning walkable communities, but who do not adopt that lifestyle and experience the benefits themselves.  Why I Walk is a great addition to everyone’s library. Also, check out Kevin’s website and blog, which is full of good stuff, at  www.kevinklinkenberg.com 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Announcing our Residential Plan Collection

Announcing the release of our Residential Plan Collection: 

Brown Design Studio has put together a collection of single family house plans that our Studio has produced over the last 16 years.  These plans are the result of our Studio working to create great traditional neighborhoods, communities and places across the country.  We are pleased to announce that we are making this collection of homes available for purchase as pre-designed home plan sets for the first time.  They may be viewed at www.plans.brownds.com or via our main website at www.brownds.com 


Our plans are focused on fitting into a traditional neighborhood context, whether a New Urbanist development or historic / urban infill.  The exteriors are based on traditional proportions and detailing.  Most of the plans are designed to fit on more narrow alley fed lots with parking in the rear.  These can be used on larger lots and they often will rotate on a larger lot or form more of a compound arrangement.  


The core design intent of these plans are to bring great timeless proportion and scale to the home.   This proportion is evident in the pleasing exterior elevations but also in the scale of the interior rooms, something most plans miss.  While each plan is unique, most do focus on a more modern open floor plan that is flexible.  We also strive for flexibility in offering spaces that can be converted or used in different ways.   A flex room that might be used as guest room or study or even a dining room as a great example.  Many of these plans do either offer floor plan options or can be easily modified.  

The traditional nature of our practice of architecture means that these plans, and particularly the exterior design, will reflect the climate and location that they were originally designed for.  Most of the elevation reflect a more southern or south-east vernacular style.  Many of the plans have alternate elevations available, brick versus a lap siding for example.  If you like a floor plan but the elevations seems off for your area, please check with us about design options for that plan.  We’ve built these all over the US and can adapt many of the plans to many areas of the country.

The interiors are such a large part of the enjoyment and experience of a home.  We have also designed a specific interior package for each of these plans that may be added to the base set of plans.  This allows us to fully integrate the traditional design them in the home and helps us to take the interior rooms to a next level.  The typical set of interior plans add all the interior trim and millwork details, ceiling details and helps to set up for an easy set of selections to finish off the home.  

Our Studio enjoys producing great traditional design work and we are pleased to offer this collection of plans. We also offer limited custom design residential work in most areas of the country.  Additionally, these set of plans do also serve as a great starting point for a semi-custom or modified home.    Lastly, we do consulting and product development work with a wide range of builders/developers, from small single home builders to full production builders.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: "City Planning According to Artistic Principles"


This is another book review for a must-have classic.  City Planning According to Artistic Principles is an amazing read and is one of our office’s core design books.  If you have any interest in urban design or city planning, then you not only need this book, but, more importantly, you need to know Camillo Sitte.  

Sitte was a nineteenth century Austrian city planner who struggled with modern planning methods in his own city of Vienna, most of which were more utilitarian-based approaches (sound familiar?)  In response, Sitte turned to ancient and medieval urbanism for inspiration in planning.  The book is full of his sketches on observations illustrating his points and theories.  They alone offer enough reason enough to purchase this book.

One of the major points of design theory is that the urban space is much more important than the urban form.  Modern architects are especially guilty about this point. Sitte asserts that the urban space should be designed as an urban “room” and that this includes the importance of height & spatial closure. 

The other major point is to design urban spaces as “picturesque” experiences.  That is, to design the space or street as a series of experiences for the person using the space or street.  This was a much different approach than that of Sitte’s peers, and still quite different from typical planning methods employed today.

Sitte’s book advocates for the consideration of design and beauty in the city planning process.  He also urges the designer to consider how people will experience and view the spaces they are working on.  This work has given us great insight into how to design urban spaces and we recommend everyone own this book if it is not already a part of your library.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Introducing Carlos Paz, meet the intern, Fall 2014 edition.

Introducing Carlos Paz

Carlos is our current Fall 2014 intern.  Carlos attends the Savannah School of Art and Design and is set to graduate soon.  We asked Carlos to write a short bio about himself and some thoughts he has so far on being in an architectural office.  Carlos has responded with a not so short bio about himself but we are going to post it all anyway. Carlos is an articulate young man and his  observations as a native of South America, add a lot of good dialog in the office here and also provide good insight to how others view the City of Savannah.  We are glad to have him.  


My name is Carlos Paz, I am an architect and graduate student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, in Savannah, GA, where I am currently obtaining my Master of Urban Design degree. 

I was born and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela, where I obtained my Bachelor of Architecture degree in the Universidad Rafael Urdaneta. During my undergraduate studies, I was able to explore the many areas and aspects of architecture through a wide range of projects that included: family housing, residential and commercial developments, and educational facilities, among others. As part of my undergraduate studies I did my internship in the CRU, the office in charge of the urban developments and preservation of the downtown area of the city. As a result of that experience, I developed a great interest toward the urban aspect of the cities and their historic downtowns, which led me into perusing my master degree in urban design.  

While looking through the different opportunities, I thought that the best way to expand my knowledge to the fullest would be by studying abroad. Since I had visited the country on several occasions, the United States was my first option. I have admired the country’s urban aspect, architecture and whole culture since I was young. While browsing though different colleges and majors, I found SCAD Savannah, and decided to visit the campus during the summer.  I was captivated by the city’s charm and character, the downtown of the city offers a perfect representation of how important the history of the cities are, and why it is essential to preserve it. In addition to that, the downtown area of Savannah finds a perfect way to merge the architectural aspect of the city with the city’s urban and pedestrian characteristics. The squares, big trees, sidewalks, water features, and many other elements, allow pedestrians to walk through the downtown and experience its prominence in a great way. Along with their great urban design program, and all the remarkable aspects that Savannah had to offer, I decided to apply to SCAD and pursue my master of urban design degree.

During my time in SCAD, I have been able to obtain a closer look into the city’s rich culture and history while expanding my knowledge on urban design and architecture in the United States. As a result of that, and due to my undergraduate background in architecture, I knew that it was essential for me to do my graduate internship in an office that would allow me to learn more about the traditional architecture and urban design of the United States, and that’s when I found the Brown Design Studio office.  While going through their website and reading about their projects and design principles, I though it would be a perfect place for me to do my internship and fulfill my desire to learn more about the traditional architecture of the United States.  

Up to now, I have been able I have been able to learn more about the different types of traditional buildings and structures of the US while browsing and updating the extensive catalog of the firm. I have been able to appreciate a wide range of buildings and structures, from mixed-use buildings, carriage houses, multi-family units, and many others. In addition, I have been able to learn more about the urban and planning aspect of the city by doing research and contacting one of the planners of the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission. As everyone knows, architecture is a complex process of creation, during my time in the office, I have been able to appreciate how some projects have been designed and materialized. I have been able to participate in a discussion regarding the results of a design charrette, along with the site visit of a project that is currently being constructed on Bluffton, SC. As an international student this experience is truly valuable for me, because it allows me to get a closer look into the American construction system and how it takes place.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Grubb Road Redevelopment

This week, Brown Design had the privilege of working on a proposed redevelopment of a site in Franklin Township, New Jersey. The site would primarily feature a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) alongside houses to be available on the market, and a small town center / market area with commercial space.

We started by investigating the surrounding area to see what sort of historical urban design techniques had already been utilized. Just down the street were two Christian camps (one active, one former). Pitman Grove, on the National Registry of Historic Places, was a Methodist summer camp built in the 1880s, laid out like a wagon wheel. The "spokes" were streets lined with houses, all pointing to a meeting hall located at the center. Down the road in the other direction is the Malaga Camp, laid out in a grid, but again featuring a design strategy that is built around a strong sense of community.

Using these camps as inspiration, we developed simple parti drawings at a very small scale to figure out how to divide the land, orient the lots, and run roads and streets. As we progressed, we increased the scale and detail level until we had a working concept site plan. We tried to divide the large plot of land into smaller neighborhoods located around central gardens.




After feedback from the clients, we refined the site plan to better illustrate our core themes of “pocket neighborhoods”, with cottages facing each other across a shared lawn or garden. We then constructed a Sketchup model and sketched over top of printed views of the model to produce some concept renderings, to better convey how we envision the site might appear.





It was a great experience for me, learning how to plan for the various levels of continuing care, including independent and assisted living, and how to design in such a way that caters as best as possible to both of them. We feel the result we’ve come up with is a great example of New Urbanist goals of designing to create a sense of community, of place, and provide many different unit types and sizes of residences for diverse age and income groups.


Written by David Easterday,
Designer at Brown Design Studio