How do you disguise a self-storage facility to blend into an existing retail/residential area in an affluent suburb with proximity to the nations’ capital?
First, you read the handbook. Then you meet with the council.
“Largo Town Center Urban Architectural Design Criteria “contains forty-seven pages of standards. It addresses–building forms, heights, materials and elements, storefronts, recommendations for awnings, signage, fenestration, percentage of openings to solid wall (windows and doors) and enhancing the look of the façade using “Horizontal Elements, Recesses, Projections and Corner Elements”.
The community council’s highest priority was to blend the building into the existing environment. Before starting to design, I photographed the area with my drone. Largo Town Center was nearby; a “main street” built in the 1940s consisting of multi-story, ground floor retail brick buildings with awnings lining both sides. To the west of my site, was an office park with newer, contemporary, two-story buildings. Across the road to the east was sprawling residential.
Taking all the criteria into consideration I decided on a brick and EIFS exterior with concrete tile at the base. I used warm tones, which were predominant in the vicinity and a red brick that echoed that of the bank on the adjacent lot. My usual practice is to order large panels of EIFS from the supplier because small color chips are insufficient to make a selection. My color consultant, who is my wife and business manager, is a graduate of MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art). She has a keen eye for color and has made the selections on all my projects. In this case, we had a mock-up sample wall made using the top two 2 choices of brick, EIFS and glass.
Prince George’s County regulations would not allow interior storage doors to be visible through the windows. We chose a smokey gray opaque glass to simulate windows. I used a “super-size” brick to match the large scale of the building. Echoing the town center, ground level retail in the front of the building, and the self-storage office had storefronts with green awnings. The upper six stories accommodate self-storage. Satisfying local requirements while creating a high functioning self-storage/retail project was a delicate balancing act, successfully executed.