What’s it like to practice architecture in your own backyard? The word conjures creative freedom which might be true in zoning free Houston, Texas, but not in the many master planned communities that surround it. Browne McGregor Architects’ (BMA) recent commission for a new medical office building, located in the Telfair community of Sugar Land, challenged design principal and Sugar Land resident Jim McGregor to run the gauntlet of overlapping rules and regulations promulgated by Newland Properties and the City of Sugar Land. Fortunately, this was not Jim’s first hometown rodeo.
The D’Agostino Companies’ development goal for the project was to create a two-story, 38,000 square foot, medical office building with surface parking at a ratio of 5 cars per 1,000 gross square feet of building area. In addition, the developer’s prelease commitment to an ambulatory surgery center required a covered drop-off at the building entrance, a rear canopy for ambulance access and patient discharge, and room for an on-site emergency generator. Fortunately, the site, which was served by a regional storm water facility, did not require on-site detention.
The budget and schedule called for concrete, tilt-wall construction – an economical and speedy construction type prevalent in the Houston area. However, the development guidelines required a large portion of the building exterior to be brick veneer masonry – an inherently more expensive finish. The compromise to reconcile the guidelines with the project budget was to select on oversized, thin brick that could be thin-set – tile like – to the face of the tilt-wall panels.
Arch-Con Corporation’s pre-construction services allowed the developer and design team to track the project budget throughout the entire process. And market insights from a local commercial real estate broker helped to gauge market demand and to guide planning for building amenities as well as interior material and lighting selections.
In the finished design the four tenants anchoring the building will each have direct access to the two story, contemporary, entrance lobby which connects to the front and rear parking fields. BMA is currently completing its design for the 9,000 s.f. Ambulatory Surgery Center for orthopedic, neurological and pain management procedures, which will occupy one-half of the ground floor lease area.
One of the rewards in the practice of architecture is the satisfaction that comes from balancing the competing requirements of the client’s program of requirements and budget against local restrictions and codes while still creating a design of which one can feel proud. In this regard running the gauntlet in Jim’s backyard made for a particularly rewarding project for BMA.
For further information about the Telfair West Medical Office Building or other examples of BMA’s work, please contact us anytime, and please feel free to share this blog with friends and colleagues who may be interested. In the meantime, never forget that there are plenty of opportunities right in your own backyard.
Browne McGregor Architects, Inc.