When the Trenton Parking Authority proposed a design challenge to improve the area, KSS Architects responded with an adaptive re-use strategy that transforms an existing structure to activate the site’s surroundings. Currently, the site is occupied by an old brutalist parking garage dating back to the 1970′s and lacks any recognition of its important history – just south of the project site is Mill Hill Park, where American and British soldiers fought the first and second battles of Trenton during the Revolutionary War. The architects’ proposal acknowledges the site’s rich history while adding a sense of vitality to the prominent edge of the downtown area.
Using the existing concrete garage, the architects propose to hang a 4,000-square-feet LED sign which will display a variety of information. The sign can be used to show historical information, advertisements, outdoor movies or even act as a cultural amenity for art and theater events.
A continuous red ribbon weaves itself across the facade which will dual-function as a retail signage band and as a root collection system for the vertical garden that extends across Front Street. By extending the retail face south of the existing colonnade and reorganizing the main entry into the parking garage, the design increases the retail component from roughly 10,000 sf to 15,000 sf.
The northwest entrance into Mill Hill Park becomes a pedestrian gateway into the downtown and into the park, which could be re-graded to accommodate amphitheater outdoor seating.
Using the existing structure’s east-west orientation, KSS Architects have proposed a solar array that contributes toward an energy-neutral solution. The architects estimate that over 25 years, the array’s net profit would be roughly half the total cost of the project’s construction.
This proposal is among 3 other finalists and the City of Trenton will announce the winning design soon.