Home prices in the Gallatin Valley have risen dramatically leading to a growing range of the population that can no longer afford a home in the area where they work. Young professionals, and young families especially, struggle to plant long-term roots in the community whose growing popularity is pricing and pushing them out.
Mixed-use development – the close physical integration of places for work, living, recreation, and relaxation – is an essential component for building a sustainable community and in this case, provides a rare opportunity to address Bozeman’s housing crisis.
After researching how successful urban developments create ‘Third Places’ – a neutral zone outside of home (1st) and work (2nd), the ‘host of the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings’ (3rd) – this project proposes that a new ‘Fourth Place’, a confluence of the first three presented as a mixed-use development can further tap into the universal qualities of pride, identity, and economy that ultimately create ‘home.’
Each ‘Fourth Place’ is characterized by a signature sustainable building strategy and becomes an intersectional, shared space serving different user groups. This approach attains net zero energy goals while simultaneously educating its users regarding those strategies. It generates interaction between occupants and eliminates traditional, formulaic boundaries typical of mixed-use projects.
With a total building area of 53,000 square-feet, the program includes a local grocery store, a transit center, seventeen housing units of varying sizes, co-working spaces, a daycare, shared storage, green roofs, and an indoor community garden. The exterior boasts a public park, wetlands, retention pond, dog park, playground, connective trail system, and car parking.
This project develops a sustainable approach to the essential components of our lives – food, shelter, and transportation – through thoughtful integration and connection of programmatic elements, sustainable strategies, and surrounding site conditions. More importantly however, it demonstrates how a symbiotic relationship can exist between building and community where people understand how to learn from, depend on, and adapt to each other and their resources in order to live productively.
Measure 1: Design for Integration
The primary goal of this design was to use defining sustainable building characteristics to create shared spaces for diverse user groups to interact. Stacking the market, transit center, housing, and daycare ‘right-sizes’ the project and creates active engagement between occupants while allowing for passive heating, cooling, and deep daylight penetration. Elongating the form on the east-west axis takes advantage of southern sun, reduces overall footprint, and facilitates unique circulation paths inside and out. Stepping the building along the low-slope topography and following existing drainage paths reduces site impact and creates eddies where people can enjoy their surroundings.
Measure 2: Design for Community
As a rural town, Bozeman is desirable for its relative remoteness and connection to the outdoors but it comes at a cost, lack of public transportation and community events, items more easily found in urban locations. The transit center on this site provides both local and interstate travel routes giving residents and visitors alike greater access to the town. Connecting the existing biking and walking trail system to this site while also offering a playground, a diversity of parks, and outdoor café seating improves the site’s transportation score, increases interaction between surrounding community members, and encourages diverse modes of transportation.
Measure 3: Design for Ecology
The primary ecological strategy was connecting to and expanding the adjacent wetlands. This 5,800 square-feet of new wetland fosters local bird habitat and improves air quality. Its placement aligns with the existing watershed and the prominent location aided with signage educates residents regarding its value within the ecosystem. Consolidating the building to one mass and having tiered green roofs allows a greater percentage of the site to support vegetation, increasing site density. All landscaping selections are both native and local. Additionally, the solar gain space inside serves as a year-round community garden for residents, encouraging local food networks.
Measure 4: Design for Water
By integrating both site and building water requirements, this dry climate design accommodates 172% of a 2-year, 24-hour storm event. While the site is already designed primarily for vegetation, groundwater recharge is supplemented by appropriately placed bioswales and permeable pavers. Rainfall collected from the roof is stored in five sub-surface cisterns which travel directly into the building for reuse. Treatment equipment, potable water tanks, and graywater tanks are all displayed demonstrating real-time usage to residents. The eastern retention pond creates a desirable outdoor environment for café users while also serving as overflow storage for additional water reclamation.
Measure 5: Design for Economy
Through early programming decisions this project addresses long-term and short-term costs. Bozeman struggles with providing attainable housing so the primary goal was finding ways to reduce household costs. For one, a new bus route creates affordable transportation to further parts of the city. The addition of a daycare provides jobs while creating convenience and reduced costs for working parents. Reducing standard apartment sizes and offering a 1-½ bedroom creates additional offerings. The combined active and passive energy strategies between programmatic elements eliminates resident utility costs. Finally, co-work spaces and shared circulation reduces square footage resulting in less overall building cost.
Measure 6: Design for Energy
The design’s reduction in energy consumption relies on its well-designed passive systems and a tight envelope. Early massing and orientation studies produced a curved form optimizing southern exposure and wind patterns. To address this heating-dominated climate, an indirect solar gain space uses brick for thermal mass, storing heat during the winter and acting as a solar chimney in the summer. Operable windows provide natural ventilation and night flushing. With residences located above the market, active heat recovery occurs between floors from day to night reducing peak energy demands. Active systems, GSHP’s and PV’s, further enable an EUI of -8.7 kBTU.
Measure 7: Design for Wellness
To the north, residents have private views of the Bridger Mountains and to the south, the solar gain space provides both ample daylight and views to the southern range. Additionally, this shared community garden improves indoor air quality. The alluring nature of the space encourages use of the stairs. Shades and deep overhangs prevent glare.
The market’s evenly distributed punched openings provide diffuse daylight; light shelves allow it to penetrate deeper into the room. Furthermore, the market employs a nutritionist who curates recipe stations – prepared and organized ingredients with instructions encouraging fresh, home-made meals for residents.
Measure 8: Design for Resources
Material and construction decisions were primarily based on location proximity in an effort to reduce embodied energy. Heavy timber, the only renewable structural resource, became the primary structure for its connection to the local language, its sourcing within 200 miles, and its ability to naturally sequester carbon. The primary exterior finish, brick, was ideal as it’s locally sourced, durable in the harsh Montana climate, and has reduced amounts of construction waste due to its modularity. Construction methods included the use of mechanical fasteners instead of sealants whenever possible to reduce the amount of VOC’s.
Measure 9: Design for Change
Due to its site location as an extension of downtown, this project’s ability to adapt both socially and structurally is critical. On the first front, the tiered roofs leave room for additional units when housing demands increase. Long spans on all floors and sensible floor-to-floor heights enable interior programmatic flexibility.
On a larger scale, the unique, partial A-frame created by the 60˚ angled glazing wall is well suited for earthquake resiliency, the largest concern of an area adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. A ground floor generator and oversized retention pond aid site occupants to adapt and survive during an emergency.
Measure 10: Design for Discovery
The success of a design is not dependent on how well it is presented but its ability to perform as intended. By modeling and testing each decision, evaluating multiple options, and collaborating with experienced professionals, this design progressed further and it more effectively addressed project concerns. This process combined with rigorous analysis of site conditions and cultural trends gave assurance that the design appropriately addressed project needs and more. Best practice applies this to the construction process and post occupancy evaluations. It is openness to feedback and assistance that creates a project of which an entire team can be proud.