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2021 Forge Prize First Runner Up

This project seeks to compliment the recently published Richmond 300 masterplan by developing a site at the intersection of a major commercial corridor and a boulevard. The thoughtfully articulated design creates a much needed walkable, human-scale environment in place of the sprawling car-centric expanse. The site sits within a commercial zone serving a large residential neighborhood. The demographic of the residents is largely African American and 40% of the population are at or around poverty level. The project’s program is determined in response to this context, with the aim of creating a hub for commercial activities, business opportunities and civic gatherings.

In recent years we’ve seen people across the country demanding change, from the Black Lives Matter movement to Stop Asian Hate protests. In times like this, an open and accessible urban plaza is a powerful tool for the people to rally support for issues, voice demands and exchange ideas. The project uses this fundamental need for collective space as an initial concept and develops programs and forms around a central plaza. Toward the street front are pavilions that act as gateways while the other side of the site is an indoor marketplace. The triangular forms on both sides emerge from the ground in the middle and open up to neighborhood beyond.


Just like a valley in nature, this project makes full use of its form and geometry to integrate sustainable features. Large north-facing surfaces have skylights to harvest daylight while south-facing surfaces have BIPV for solar power generation. The sloping form also makes rainwater collection possible. From the roof, rain is collected through the major columns into the building, then piped underground to the north and south wet pond areas where it is featured as a landscape amenity.


The main structure for the market and pavilion is deep steel plate as columns and girders. Those flat steel members are two-layer sections welded together with ribs and exposed in the interior as a unique architectural expression to celebrate the use of steel.


The pavilion is supported by steel plate columns and beams, with the columns forming an A shaped frame to acheive the overall triangle architecture. The skin of the pavilion is steel sheeting and glazing, with some metal pockets peeled open for visual interest and allowing more daylight inside. The support for the facade is a lightweight cable truss system to minimize visual impact and maximize transparency over the glazing. Its grid nature also provides flexibility for the various opening dimension in those pockets.


The Market facade is laid out based on the internal structure grid. Glazing happens along the main columns as a signifier of structure to the exterior. The north facing facade has laminated safety glass as skylights and the south facing side has BIPV to harvest solar energy. When water contacts the skin, it is directed to the base of the valley and then funneled into the four rainwater collecting points that are built at the main columns and eventually through the ground into the wet ponds on the sides of the building.

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