The Meybohm Building
As the first building and anchor of the Evans Town Center development, The Meybohm Building sets the tone of the development with a mix of “main street” and industrial building characteristics. The program for the 58,000 square feet called for 15,000 square feet of office space for the Meybohm Company to consolidate their training center, new homes division, relocation services, and all offices into one space complete with conference rooms, breakrooms, and a classroom. The remaining square footage will be occupied by retail and restaurants.
Design ChallengeAs the keystone building for the soon-to-be new walkable city core of Evans, the project needed to set the scale and design tone for the overall Town Center development. As the first of many buildings in the growing Town Center, the facility’s design was tasked with being exemplary as to having mixed uses (retail, multiple restaurants and event function areas along with some 22,000 square of “new generation” office space) and, importantly, introducing a hip, urban vibe and enjoyable streetscapes to Evans. The look of the building needed to be contextually appropriate but done so with a high degree of freshness.
The first step in achieving these challenges was the Meybohm Building’s placement on the site. The design understands its very prominent and important corner site, and responds via its L-shape footprint which tightly hugs both thoroughfares, creating street level retail and restaurant uses that activate the sidewalks. Parking for the building, and service entries, are tucked behind the building. Along the south facing elevation fronting the Town Center’s main boulevard, the design provides a two-level industrial-inspired covered porch. At street level, this porch serves potentially two restaurants, and its upper porch floor serves office tenants. At level four/roof level, the building continues to acknowledge its corner site and view opportunities with its large-scaled-covered rooftop event terrace, a key visual feature to the design.
The challenge of introducing a building exterior that provided a proper mix of visually-recognizable regional context with contemporary components was met by embracing the architectural heritage of the brick warehouse and industrial buildings found nearby, and then layering into that framework contemporary and innovative materials, massing variations, and contrasting colors.
Physical ContextThe Evans Town Center development was a bare, featureless site under the first stages of infrastructure construction when The Meybohm Building was being designed. The small amount of neighboring buildings were of suburban character and lacked any pedestrian-friendly components. The walkable, urban-inspired Evans Town Center Master Plan is a counter to this suburban development approach. When completed, Evans Town Center, with The Meybohm Building as its first city block, will serve Columbia County as its “heart and core” with additional mixed-use buildings, a performing art center, town green, and wide walkable streetscapes.
Given this context, a primary goal for both the City and The Meybohm Building design team was ensuring that the building would strongly contribute to the creation of a “sense of place” at the Town Center as called for by the Master Plan. The new architecture would be visually inspired by regional buildings. Augusta, just some ten miles east of Evans, is dotted with100 year old plus brick mill buildings, most found along the Augusta Canal. These elegant industrial buildings visually enrich the Augusta region, and for the Meybohm Building, their timeless look became an essential contextual fabric for the building’s design. Drawing inspiration from those industrial buildings, and other main street architecture, The Meybohm Building, with its varied massing and mid-rise scale, traditional red brick exterior, large windows, and porches creates a strong, successful connection to its site. It “holds the corner” as a good urban building should.