Catalyst for a Culinary District Wins First Prize in International Urban Housing Competition

The Activate Urban Housing Design Competition challenged designers to explore new ideas for urban dwelling. A Clark Nexsen team won the competition and was recognized June 22 with an Honor Award at a ceremony and panel discussion in Charlotte. Clark Nexsen’s submission was chosen from 55 entries from 17 countries.

Competition winners:
Honor Award – Mint, by Clark Nexsen, Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina
Merit Award – A-Maze, by Radar Architecture & Arts, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Citation – R.A.W. (Residents at Work), by UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture, Charlotte, North Carolina

The competition asked entrants to create a design for a site on South Mint Street in uptown Charlotte focused on connectivity and neighborhood with residential, retail, and open greenspace. A national jury chaired by Raleigh architect, Frank Harmon, included Jonathan Segal, Roberto de Leon, Julie Snow, and Michael Williams.

Harmon commented, “The Clark Nexsen project was hands down the best entry in the Activate competition. It’s always a pleasure to see fresh talent.”

“Conceptually, we found a culinary incubator an interesting way to tie the residential with the retail and on a macro scale tie the development in with the bigger picture in Charlotte,” said Albert McDonald. “We started to make connections between Johnson & Wales, a culinary school in Charlotte, tapping into new restaurants, bars, and breweries popping up in the local area. We started making connections to downtown Charlotte and the Carolina Panthers Stadium and started to think this could be a really good place for people to hang out prior to going downtown for games, as one example.”

“The site design focused on the green space, making it part of the culinary story as a co-op garden for residents in partnership with the test kitchens and on-site restaurant. The alley was a strong connective element that becomes an internal path for residents between their homes and the garden,” said Kevin Utsey. “The plaza is a welcoming social space that can support live entertainment as well as a farmers market/food trucks on Saturdays. We wanted to activate the residential and retail to connect and support the surrounding neighborhood based on the culinary concept.”

Live work units provide street level shop or studio space with residences above. The design grabs the street, creating a defined edge and overhangs where people can walk with shade and sun. The living units have porches off the front on the street and on the back to the gardens.

The Clark Nexsen team included Albert McDonald, Corey Baughman, Erika Jolleys, Jordan Gray, Rob Harkey, Will Pate, Kevin Utsey, Bill DeYoung, Claudia Li, Darius Kisluk, and Michael Romot. A broader goal between the Raleigh and Charlotte office was team building by getting to know each other from working together on the entry.

Activate North Carolina began as a series of events at the Center of Architecture and Design in Raleigh in 2014. Each event was a call to action for those interested in activating their communities and wanting to make a difference in shaping the world around them. Each year through public events, physical installations and design-build projects, and design competitions dialogues are started that improve our communities.