qkArchitecture has won the ideas competition held by the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation during Next 3 Days Hilltop to generate interest in a four-acre development site in the Boggs/Bailey Business District. Just a few minutes walk from the Mon Incline, the area has floundered as other areas of Mt. Washington have flourished.
Ideas competitions seek projects that may or may not be built, but can help others imagine the full potential of a site. Architect Quintin Kittle, whose firm is located just at the bottom of the hill from Mt. Washington, heard about the competition through NEXT and got the whole team involved in the design process. “We all went up there to tour the site, to walk around and see the current conditions,” says architect Monica Blasko. “Then we had a design charrette like back in school days, throwing out every idea and then narrowing them down.”
qkArchitecture’s submission, “The Bend @ Boggs + Bailey,” proposes key connections on Mt. Washington with The Skyway—a sky-trolley that runs on steel frames that line the street with a bikeway on top. This project is definitely “in the ideas realm, not reality,” notes Blasko. It was fun for the architects to imagine what “could be” at the site without zoning constraints, or the practicality of expense.
Breathtaking views of Downtown are highlighted from the shared rooftop green space of a large residential development. Accessible, affordable housing along with market-rate condos make up the residences—all with private balconies. An on-site grocery store would help serve the existing senior population in Mt. Washington and surrounding neighborhoods.
“One of the first things that stood out to us at the site was that it seemed isolated from other tourist stops and neighborhoods,” says Blasko. “We felt like it would be hard to have tourists walk down and back up the hill. We needed a strategy beyond the norm to get them there and back. We thought, hills add an extra layer of complexity so why don’t we have the transit system elevated.”
“What we didn’t want was for it to be a residential-looking facility; we wanted it to stand out and be a little bit more contemporary, a little bit less like a planned development,” says Kittle. “The look is rather modern which matches the transit system and we wanted it to stand out.”
A statement from the jury makes clear why they selected this imaginative design from the seven entries received: “We chose The Bend because it was exactly what we asked for—a unique and out-of-the-box design. This entry is a thought-provoking example of the site’s potential to yield an inclusive, mixed-use, transit-oriented development that caters to healthy urban lifestyles. The Bend is a glimpse into the future, and sets the bar high on the potential of our Boggs/Bailey corridor.”
qkArchitecture will receive $2,000 as the winners of the competition which it will use to cover expenses such as staff time and materials but also “probably have a party for the firm, possibly with margaritas,” says Kittle.