The Gulf Place buildings were designed as an integral part of a 20-acre public beach reimaging commissioned by the City of Gulf Shores. The goal of the reimagining was to “bring the beach to the town, and the town to the beach” through a series of vibrant buildings integrated into the landscape to create a unique destination. The restroom buildings serve visitors, while the Public Safety Building support both police and lifeguard public safety personnel. The two-level Public Safety Building accommodates apparatus storage and equipment, a training and break room that accommodates 32 people, fitness area, offices, a locker room, and restrooms. An observation balcony was incorporated on the ocean side of the building. The building includes a commercial grade elevator for ADA access to the second floor. The new construction meets Fortified Building Standards and was designed with the intent of lasting 100 years. The structural concrete and CMU have been left exposed and along with the cumaru wood accents create a textured façade. The buildings and site use sustainable and low-impact development strategies, and all lighting meets EPA Fish and Wildlife Standards for sea turtle-friendly amber lighting.
Design ChallengeThe Gulf Place Buildings sit on the edge of the build to line of the Gulf of Mexico. The key design challenges for the Gulf Place Buildings were creating buildings that could withstand the harsh beach environment and possible future hurricanes and storm surge, working with the existing public restroom, and creating a signature aesthetic that complemented the new park surrounding the buildings. To meet these challenges, material selection was extremely important. Our team chose to use basic materials (CMU, concrete, and wood) which would not require painting, would patina over time, and could be expressed on the façade without exterior coverings. The concrete and grout was given an integral admix of water block. The CMU is a manufactured grind, polished unit with integral water block. The wood is cumaru which will patina over time to a light gray. These materials are consistent between the buildings and landscape. Careful arrangement of these materials were incorporated in the buildings and landscape to provide texture.
Physical ContextThe buildings are located within the Gulf Place public beach redevelopment project along the Gulf of Mexico. This redevelopment provides a strong community connection from the adjacent commercial district to the waterfront. The Gulf Place buildings respond to the surrounding natural environment with understated and natural building materials, such as structural concrete, CMU, and cumaru wood, that doesn’t compete with the beach and ocean views, but blends in.