This flat, public site is located on the Lake Michigan shore. It serves as an east-west transition zone between downtown, a train station/restaurant, and the beach; and a north-south zone between cottage and highrise condominum housing. The owner asked us to create for this and an adjacent site to the north, a phased masterplan for 29 houses within a private, gated planned unit development. Although obligated to satisfy this request, we attempted to subvert this antipublic program through various urban gestures. We eased the current scale change in housing by increasing the size of buildings south to north. We continued a local tradition of alleys by serving four or six houses with short dead-end streets for private auto access, thus keeping front doors on the public streets. Alleys and greenspaces preserve existing street corridors by extending right of ways. Within the site, a private walk joins the various sections of the development and the beach, but is located to provide visual connections between public spaces to the north, south, east and west.
Ultimately, instead of a neighborhood, this key site near the beach was developed as a public park.
Alan Loomis was project designer for the Silverbeach Neighborhood while at Eckert/Wordell Architects.