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Jemison Building Flats


Located a block west of the economically vital urban core, Jemison Flats is a successful example of urban redevelopment: interconnecting three historic buildings to increase the energy and economic activity of a decayed downtown area. Working within a tight budget and historic guidelines, the design team researched materials and layouts to minimize partitions, maximize light infiltration, and create visual interest in each living unit. Early in construction, one apartment was built as a full-scale mockup to test materials, evaluate partition heights and refine the detailing and overall flow.


To optimize the number of apartments and bring natural light through each space, the units were designed as long rectangles, with kitchens and open living areas at the glazed exterior walls where daylight and city views are amenities. Internal bedrooms and baths use translucent partitions of corrugated plastic to draw borrowed daylight inward. An economical alternative to glass, the plastic partitions serve as light filters, and also offer dimensional texture.


Commercial renovations include the restoration and reglazing of a skylit dome in the original Birmingham Chamber of Commerce meeting hall. This space now houses the offices of a local advertising agency.


At the ground-level commercial spaces (which includes GA Studio’s offices), 1980s-era dark glazing was replaced with clear glass in wood framing as in the building’s original design. The architects worked with a local blacksmith to create a handcrafted steel door and copper canopy at the main entry. The design team orchestrated sidewalk improvements, selected street trees, updated light poles, and designed a landscaped urban park for residents, commercial tenants and the general public.


Honor Award I/AIAHonor Citation/AIAPreservation Award/Birmingham Historical Society

Achievement Award/Operation New Birmingham

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