Designing the Best Mixed Use Community in the Nation
When a Boston-based developer announced plans for a one million-sf luxury, mixed-use community in Vienna, Virginia, people wondered if it would succeed with the suburban demographic outside of Washington, DC.
At the time, the real estate and construction industries were reeling from the economic downturn. But the development team was confident that a luxury community packed with amenities could draw suburban tenants who value an urban lifestyle. Along the popular Metro transit line, Halstead Square would offer residents access to a bowling alley, indoor basketball court, virtual golf simulator, clubhouse, theater and fitness center – in a four-building, European-style community. Residents and guests would also have access to unique spaces like exotic pools, verandas, bar areas, fire pits and game courts, all designed to emulate a high-end resort. With modern finishes and multiple floor plans to choose from, Halstead Square offers residents flexibility and excitement.
Also based in Boston, AHA Consulting Engineers (AHA) provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection engineering design services for the new community, along with construction administration. The firm’s scope covered each of Halstead Square’s four 250,000-sf tenant buildings. The lower level of each building accommodates diverse retail and dining options, and the entire community is serviced by a 650,000-sf underground parking garage.
Phased construction for each of the four structures presented the biggest challenge to the design team who had to ensure that systems and utilities would function at each stage of occupancy.
“Each building required tie-in to the existing utilities and each other regardless of the order in which they were constructed,” said Conleth O’Flynn, Managing Partner of AHA. “Any time we manage a phased project like this, our team ensures it is well-planned, so each building ties seamless into the ones subsequently constructed.” The team also focused intently on the plumbing systems – more so than usual for this type of project. “Plumbing systems for mixed-use facilities and multi-family housing are typically straight-forward,” explained O’Flynn. “The added amenities of Halstead Square made this process very complex.”
The high-end design, which specified fireplaces in each building’s reception areas, required AHA to get creative. “We took great care to vent the fireplaces to the outdoors in an unobtrusive way,” said O’Flynn. “The last thing our team wants to do is to create a system that’s not aesthetically pleasing.”
Controlling exhaust and ventilation in the massive underground parking garage presented its own dilemma. Not wanting to detract from the community’s curbside appeal, AHA devised a system to integrate exhaust within the structure and streetscape itself.
Ultimately AHA managed to balance the engineering and design requirements and resolve a host of challenges at Halstead Square. “Sometimes there are projects where the developer, architect, engineers and contractors are antagonistic with each other. And AHA implements a proven project process to counteract those struggles.” O’Flynn explained. “Halstead Square, with all of its phases, meticulous design requirements, tight schedule and strict budget integrated the multi-faceted team even more than usual. Our close collaboration is a key component of the overall project’s success.”
Completed in July 2015, the LEED Gold Certified Halstead Square project won the Pillars of Industry award for the Best Mixed Use Community in the U.S. and the Delta Associates award for the Best Apartments in Northern Virginia.