Well-Designed Space


IMG_2616-1Lexington’s downtown revitalization is making for an exciting time to be an architect. Just ask the nine-person architectural firm Alt32, all of whom are design professionals.

One of the adaptive reuse projects they’re working on is for Transylvania University, turning a former industrial facility into the school’s field house for field hockey, lacrosse, soccer and track, with an expected opening this fall.

“Transy has a good track record of doing good projects in our community,” said Michael Sparkman, co-owner of Alt-32.

The university is purchasing other vacant, derelict properties down Fourth Street, in line with its acquisition of a warehouse on Third Street, which became the campus bookstore.

“It was brilliant,” Sparkman said of the 2012 bookstore project. “It made an immediate improvement to the entire block, which helped spur Linda Carroll and John Morgan, Tim Mellin [Doodles restaurant] and all those people to invest.”

Carroll and Morgan are owners of Morgan Worldwide Consultants. For their office space on East Third Street, Alt32 is renovating an abandoned circa-1800s residence.

“It’s bringing back a building that had been pretty much lost,” said Darren Taylor, Alt32’s project manager and vice president of business development. He has a master’s degree in architecture and historic preservation and volunteers at the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation.

“We’re community members — not by having an office here and living here, but by getting involved, volunteering, knowing what’s happening and helping in any way we can,” Taylor said. He has a particular interest in creating contemporary additions to historic properties. He and Sparkman have high praise for the city’s Board of Architectural Review.

“It’s a great process, one we like working with,” Taylor said.

“They’re protecting the quality of the historic fabric of the city,” Sparkman added.

Whether contemporary or historical — or both — good design is great. Good design that’s relevant is even better. But the best thing Alt32 brings to the table is problem-solving.

In designing the Harlan Independent Humanities Building, in Harlan, Ky., Alt32 architects knew that band members spend an inordinate amount of time going into the instrument closet, one or two students at a time, to grab an instrument. So the architects lined the perimeter of the space with instrument closets.

“They became acoustic buffers to the room themselves,” said Matthew Brooks, co-owner of Alt32. “Pushing storage out to the perimeter walls increased teaching time.”

When a tornado hit Salyersville on March 2 last year, the Magoffin County school superintendent called Alt32’s Sparkman the next day.

Copyright 2014 Smiley Pete Publishing. All rights reserved.