Last weekend, I inspected my condo in Chicago as a first step toward selling it. I moved to Iowa in 2014 and, because the Chicago real-estate market wasn’t where I needed it to be after buying my unit in 2007 (talk about bad timing!), I hired a property manager and rented my condo the past five years. I’ve had three tenants in that time and, needless to say, nobody cares for your property as you would.
My property manager offered to help me sell the unit and when I noted some of my concerns with the unit’s current condition, he responded, “These will be first-time homebuyers who will know less than nothing. We’ll make it look as good as necessary.” My heart sunk. I was a first-time homebuyer in 2007 when I first stepped foot in that condo. I loved that it was a gut rehab of a 100-year-old building. It had the character of an old building—exposed brick in the living room, original hardwood floors—along with the amenities of a modern home, like a marble bathroom with a jacuzzi tub. And it was immaculate. Even as a first-time homebuyer, I wouldn’t have purchased my condo in its current condition and my property manager’s comment ended our relationship. I ultimately hired a handyman I used while living in my condo to complete the necessary repairs and upgrades in my unit. I remembered him to be quick, thorough and meticulous, as well as affordable, which is exactly what I needed to return my condo to its 2007 charm.
You must trust your renovation team and, in this issue of retrofit, it’s clear trusted teams of design and construction practitioners came together to create projects deserving of retrofit’s inaugural Metamorphosis Awards. In some cases, the teams had worked together previously, making their collaborations even more streamlined. For example, Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects, Berkeley, Calif., and Orton Development Inc. (ODI), Emeryville, Calif., have earned a reputation for inventive restoration of immense historic properties. In San Francisco, their work on the Uber Advanced Technology Group Research and Development Center earned Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects a Metamorphosis Award in the “Historic” category. The project appears on our cover; read it here. Uber ATG is located within four buildings, 120,000 square feet, of Pier 70 on San Francisco’s waterfront. The buildings were in such poor condition that one of them was red-tagged by the city of San Francisco. Despite the buildings’ conditions, the Port of San Francisco required the fabric of the structures to remain to create a historic gateway to all the development in the area. Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects and ODI’s solution is imaginative and awe-inspiring.
“It’s obvious to me all the winning project teams spent hours solving problems, overcoming challenges, and ensuring solutions would please their clients and meet their clients’ needs, which is why these projects have won our awards,” says retrofit’s Publisher John Riester. “This first group of Metamorphosis Awards winners exemplifies the beauty of our nation’s existing building stock—no matter the beginning condition of these buildings—and sets the bar high for our 2020 Metamorphosis Awards program.”
Like the winners of many of our inaugural awards, no matter the current condition of my condo, I have confidence the beauty of my unit is still there and will be uncovered by my trusted handyman. I’m also certain the unit’s charm will sell it quickly to another person who will love it like I did.
Thank You, Judges!
Thank you to our Metamorphosis Awards judges, who also are members of our editorial advisory board. These gentlemen—Nathan M. Gillette, AIA, LEED AP O+M, CEM, director of Natura Architectural Consulting, Grand Rapids, Mich.; William E. Holloway, AIA, LEED AP, principal of BERNARDON, Wilmington, Del.; and John J. Noonan, vice president of Facilities Management, Duke University, Durham, N.C.—carefully reviewed 98 awards entries, ultimately choosing 16 winners from 13 firms. We at retrofit appreciate the time and dedication the judges committed to this process, as well as their suggestions to make our 2020 awards program even better.