Great examples of how the built environment can have a positive influence on a community are everywhere. Each year, Plan NH recognizes outstanding examples from a field of submitted nominations. This year, five projects were given awards at a dinner and program held on April 2:
Renovations to the Dearborn Memorial Building (Odd Fellows Hall) at 434 Lake Avenue in Manchester.
Built in 1908-9, this building, which has had several owners, housed the Odd Fellows Meeting Hall on the 4th floor while the bottom three have had numerous purposes through the years. Interestingly, it is in a neighborhood not associated with the mills. In 2010, the property was purchased by the City of Manchester, and was renovated for use by several human service agencies. The Odd Fellows Meeting space on the top floor has been beautifully restored to much of its original look and feel. Another Odd Fellows meeting room on the second floor was restored so that original features can still be seen.
The jury liked this project because the City took a vital lead in the restoration AND recognized the importance of having important services in the neighborhood most needing them.
Owner: City of Manchester. Key players: CMK Architects, Milestone Engineering, Pilot Construction (Phase 1 renovations)
Memorial Bridge Replacement Public Outreach and Involvement, Portsmouth NH.
The importance of communication between a project team and the community was significantly underscored during this important bridge-replacement project that was completed late last year. McFarland Johnson facilitated daily interaction among project teams, the public and the media. A special effort was made, through various means, to include those not usually involved in public dialogs and conversations. Events, announcements and various forms of media were all used to keep the public apprised of developments, challenges and successes throughout the building process.
The jury felt that this is an outstanding example of the significance of including as many people as possible in a community undertaking, especially those who believe their voice is not usually heard.
Owner: NHDOT and MDOT, Key players: McFarland Johnson, HDR, and Archer Western Contractors.
The Endicott Hotel, Concord.
Prominently-located at the corner of Pleasant and South Main in the City of Concord, the building was erected in 1894 and was the first large commercial structure in the city on the main street but south of Pleasant and the first to be devoted completely for commercial use. During the second decade of the 20th century, the building was sold and gradually became the Endicott Hotel. Most of the time, the first floor remained commercial.
In 1994, CATCH (a Concord-based non-profit which provides affordable and market-rate places to live) purchased The Endicott and through a series of smart relationships and decisions, redeveloped the property with market-rate living spaces above, and continued commercial opportunities on the ground floor.
The jury liked the idea of having choices for people to live in downtown Concord, which will contribute to the future vibrancy of our capitol city. They also liked that this important structure was re-developed, rather than torn down, even after a fire created significant damage. Finally, they were impressed with the thoughtful, comprehensive planning that went into this effort.
Owner: CATCH Neighborhood Housing. Key players: CN Carley Associates, Steffenson Engineering, Nobis Engineering, Northway Bank, Cobb Hill Construction, Eclectica Design, Lavender and Lotus Interior Design, Renee Rucci Design and The Leading Edge Drapery.
Families in Transition Lowell Street Addition and Historic Renovation, 136 Lowell Street, Manchester.
The scope of this work included demolition of a portion of an existing historic building and the construction of a three-story, 7700 SF addition in its place. The remaining portion of the original building underwent a complete renovation. Built in 1846 in the Gothic Revival Style, the house had undergone many renovations and additions through the years, most recently in the 1970’s when it was a halfway house for boys. Today, the property is a 12,300 sf facility that includes an administrator’s office, a common kitchen and dining area, and 17 units of transitional living space for homeless women and their families.
Not only was the jury impressed with the rehabilitation of the original house, and the large addition on the back which blends beautifully visually from the street, they recognized the great planning that went into this project. The jury also liked the proximity to downtown and to public transportation. Each juror agreed that Families in Transition is an important organization that deserves recognition, an organization that “gives voice and hope to those who have a limited voice.”
Owners: Families in Transition and Great Bridge Properties. Key players: North Branch Construction, Burnell-Johnson Architects
Railroad Land Development, Keene
One block of Main Street in downtown Keene, an old B&M railroad yard of 7+ (mostly brownfield ) acres is now a site that includes a restaurant, hotel, offices, a Cheshire Medical Department, 8 condos, a food co-op, a 55-rooms of living spaces for seniors, and 24 living spaces for the work force. With a bus stop, a bike path and walkable streets, the area is connected to the downtown and beyond.
The jury found this to be an outstanding example of compact, mixed-use development where it can make a real difference for the community. They liked the integration of visual design and materials that reflect the rest of Keene, but stand alone as well. Important, too, is that to live, work or play there, one does not necessarily need a car.
Owner: Monadnock Economic Development. Key players: City of Keene, Daniel V. Scully Architects, George Hickey, Architect, CHA, SVE, Harvey Construction and Pro Con and Cheshire Builders.
To find out more about Plan NH’s Merit Awards Program, go here.