Liberty East, In the Works
East Liberty, five miles east of downtown Pittsburgh, was Pennsylvania’s third‑largest shopping district in the 1940s and 1950s, popularly referred to as the “Second Downtown.” Emerging from the decline of the 1970s, it is quickly establishing its position as the center of technology, culture, and lifestyle in Pittsburgh. MV+A is fortunate to play a part in this emergence by planning and designing approximately 10 acres in a multiphase approach. The masterplan features a variety of uses including grocery stores, high‑end consumer retail, office and multifamily apartments, all planned to recreate a true mixed‑use neighborhood reminiscent of the rich urban tapestry historically prevalent in East Liberty.
NEWS | June 17, 2021
Fairfax County, VA
Another development is in the works along the Richmond Highway corridor, where a new transit line and land use plan are intended to spur economic growth.
Elm Street Development filed plans with Fairfax County for a 280-unit apartment project at the intersection of Richmond Highway and Buckman Road.
The developer is under contract to buy the site, and it is also looking to purchase a series of adjacent properties that could accommodate townhouses, Elm Street Vice President Jim Perry told Bisnow. He said he aims to break ground on the multifamily project by the first half of 2023 and deliver it by the end of 2024.
The five-story multifamily project would be built on a 5-acre site previously occupied by eight single-family homes. It would have a structured parking garage and an interior courtyard.
The amenities would include an outdoor pool and grilling area, a fitness center, a dog care salon, a resident lounge and a gaming area. If the developer moves forward with the adjacent townhouses, Perry said the buyers would have access to the building’s amenities.
The project would also create a park at the Richmond Highway-Buckman Road intersection that would be available to the public.
“The Buckman-Richmond intersection will be a major intersection with a full signal, so we wanted to provide an open space area as a central focus of that intersection that would be available not only for our residents but people taking advantage of the pedestrian opportunities the county is creating,” Perry said.
The county in 2018 passed the Embark Richmond Highway transportation and land use plan. The plan calls for building a bus rapid transit system and creating a series of community hubs with high-density development around the stops. It also calls for improving the bicycle and pedestrian experience along the corridor.
“We’ve always been a big fan of the corridor for redevelopment, and the county is investing a lot of resources in the corridor with its Embark project,” Perry said. “We like the corridor for its proximity to employment, retail and the Beltway, and we’d love to find other redevelopment opportunities down there.”
Elm Street has partnered with Alexander Co. on multiple projects in the area, including the redevelopment of the Old Mount Vernon High School at 8333 Richmond Highway and the redevelopment of a former prison in Lorton.
Other developers have moved forward with projects near the Huntington Metro station, the eastern terminus of the Embark Richmond Highway plan, and along other portions of the corridor. In April, Lennar Multifamily Communities filed plans for a 470-unit project near the intersection of Richmond Highway and North Kings Highway.
“With all the development in the pipeline up at the Huntington Metro that is certainly going to change that area dramatically,” Perry said. “As the county pushes forward the Embark project along Richmond Highway, we think it’s going to get nothing but better. The more redevelopment there, the better.”
DESIGN BRIEF | June 2021
MV+A Recent Retail – Part I: Pad Sites
Large developments are often the most frequently featured projects showcased by many architecture and design firms, including MV+A. We have found, however, that smaller sites and projects can also present exciting design opportunities. A common type of smaller site designed by MV+A are pad sites.
What is a pad site? A pad site is usually a small lot within a larger commercial/retail development that can be leased or sold to a retail operator or developed as a freestanding retail/commercial establishment. Pad sites often include drive-through banks, fast food restaurants, or a Starbucks! Pad sites enliven an existing shopping center and draw more attention and traffic by adding new, highly visible retail spaces.
Cabin John Village
Cabin John’s two pad sites include four tenants connected by a courtyard between them.
MV+A has a long history with the Cabin John Shopping Center site in Potomac, MD – the firm has been working on redevelopment concepts as far back as 2009 and through changes in ownership! In addition to exploring future plans for the site, renovating office buildings, and creating façade concept designs, MV+A has recently designed two new pad site retail buildings at the shopping center.
Individual brand identities come together to announce a quartet of fast casual restaurants.
The new buildings add an additional 10,000 SF of retail and four fast-casual restaurants to Cabin John Village, with a roughly 2,000 SF courtyard connecting the two buildings. A variety of materials, from board-formed concrete to shou sugi ban wood siding, give the new buildings a crisp, modern feel, and served as inspiration for an update to the rest of the center. Unfortunately, pad sites commonly feature buildings with unrelated architecture appearing as a hodgepodge front to a retail development. Cabin John, however, was carefully planned and designed so the two buildings and spaces between them appear as part of a larger whole while allowing individual tenants a unique expression and identity.
Detail of Shake Shack and Cava facades.
Completed in 2018 for our client EDENS, the pad sites act as a new entrance feature, helping to ensure continued success for Cabin John Village, which has been serving this Potomac neighborhood for over fifty years.
Dining in the courtyard between the two pads.
Tysons West Phase III – Interim Retail Buildings
Tysons West’s four pad sites as seen from the Metro station platform, fronting our earlier commercial development featuring a Walmart.
Completed in 2019, MV+A master planned and designed four retail pad buildings and a parking lot at Tysons West, a large, phased development owned by JBG SMITH near the Spring Hill metro station in Tysons, VA. The pad sites are intended to be used as an interim development until the next phase of buildings planned for the larger development are built. MV+A led the design, construction documentation, contract administration, and leasing support for the retail buildings in Phase III, in addition to preparing a comprehensive signage package.
Closeup view of the two pad sites nearest to the Walmart.
The four retail pad buildings totaling 22,000 SF create a secondary draw to the existing mixed-use development anchored by a 24-Hour Fitness and Walmart, which MV+A completed in 2013. The sites help form a defining and easily identifiable ‘front’ for the larger development of which they are a part. With our client Willard Retail, the pad sites bring more convenient retail and services to the corner of Leesburg Pike.
View from Walmart of the pad sites.
While these buildings are temporary, their design incorporates aluminum, steel, and stone details to create vibrant facades to draw shoppers off the trains. The festive canopies bring a liveliness and fun atmosphere to the surrounding area until the future phases of the project are complete. Pad sites, like larger projects and developments, provide space to enhance local communities.
Consistent contemporary design language is used across the pad sites.
We welcome the newest additions to the MV+A Team, Ardavan Tookaloo and Elizabeth Bezilla.nd fun atmosphere to the surrounding area until the future phases of the project are complete. Pad sites, like larger projects and developments, provide space to enhance local communities.
Ardavan Tookaloo, LEED Green Associate
MV+A Role: Architectural Designer
Joined MV+A: April 2021
From: Originally from Tehran, Iran
Schooling: B.S. in Architectural Engineering | University of Art in Tehran, Iran
Master of Architecture | University of Utah
M.S. in Architectural Studies | University of Utah
Interests: Travel, photography, soccer, cooking (especially BBQ), and movies
Elizabeth Bezilla, Associate AIA
MV+A Role: Architectural Designer
Joined MV+A: May 2021
From: Washington, DC
Schooling: The Catholic University of America
Interests: Acting, singing, travel, reading, art, film, and taking care of animals