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Civil Engineering | Land Survey | Environmental Consulting | Landscape Architecture

NEREJ Project Of The Month 2015 – Orion Student Housing

NEREJ Project Of The Month 2015 – Orion Student Housing

Durham NH - Allen & Major Associates, Inc. partnered with their Client, Orion Student Housing, LLC, DeStefano Architects, PLLC, Fulcrum Associates and the Town of Durham to design and permit a re-development project that will provide much needed housing for students attending the University of New Hampshire.  Located in the heart of downtown Durham, the project will preserve the historic character of Main Street and meet the land planning vision of the Town.  The parcel is comprised of approximately 1.09 acres of land.  The design team received approvals from the Historic District Commission, the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Planning Board in 2013.  There are six buildings proposed as part of the project.  The design challenge was to maintain and utilize two historic buildings currently located on the site while also preserving the historic character of Main Street.  Also, incorporating the Town’s commercial space requirements, and meeting the Client’s residential density requirements, all on such a very small parcel of land.  The final design provides 52 full amenity apartments with 179 beds, and 8,800 square feet (sf) of commercial space.  The project is a working example of compact design, highlighted by the mixing of residential and commercial to promote walkable communities.  Since density by design is really about the solutions to development with the least adverse effect, this project is representative of what is possible.

The project is located at 25-35 Main Street which is part of both the Town of Durham’s Historic District and the Central Business District. The site redevelopment project includes renovating and rehabilitating 25 and 35 Main Street, demolishing/abatement of 27 and 29 Main Street, demolishing the barn in the rear, and the construction of (4) new wood framed buildings.  Fronting on Main Street will be the two existing buildings and two new proposed buildings as well as a portion of building “A”.  Building A is a 3-story, mixed-use building with a 2-story commercial suite in the front and multi-family residential to the back.  Building “B”, the largest of the buildings, is set to the rear of the site in order to maintain the historic nature of Main Street.  Building B is a new, 3-story, multi-family residential building over a partial full-height basement. This building will contain 36 residential units including 1, 3 and 4 bedroom configurations.

The challenges of designing a redevelopment project of this magnitude within a highly dense and historically significant area encouraged the project development team to innovate solutions not normally seen in a traditional neighborhood redevelopment project.

Before construction is to begin, a significant amount of ledge must be blasted and removed in order to accommodate the new building foundations.  Some of the blasting will take place within five (5) feet of the property lines of existing residential homes that reside on stone foundations.  A highly intricate blasting plan was devised in order to ensure safety to the surrounding structures and mitigate sound disturbances.  A pre-blast survey is offered to all property owners within a 250 foot radius of the blast site.

In order to meet the goals of the Town of Durham’s Master Plan, the project is designed to promote multi-modal transportation and include covered bike storage areas and bike racks throughout the design. Additional site improvements include widening the existing sidewalk along the entire frontage of Main Street by 8 feet in order to encourage pedestrian movement.  Best Management Practices (BMPs) were utilized in the design including rain gardens, roof drains, and porous pavers to infiltrate all of the onsite stormwater.


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