Washington Lofts: Sarasota, Florida

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The developer of this project is a proponent of the live-work concept: the establishment of structures combining a residential living space with an integrated workspace principally used by one of the residents.

In the early 1990's this developer wanted to work out of the garage of a small two bedroom house, one-bathroom house in downtown Sarasota with his wife and two young children. This required a special exception from the city which was granted and the first live-work project was established in Sarasota. Now, 15 years later this developer wants to give Sarasota professionals who work along the cutting-edge edifice to practice their trade right across the hall from their living space. This live-work structure is one of the first vertical live-work arrangements in the county. Up to recently, the live-work concept has been associated in single family residences or detached "out-building" where residential occupants can have a separate space for working in close proximity to their place of residence. This project applies the same concept but in vertical rise.

The density allowed for 12 condominium units on a lot size of 10,000 s.f. (100'-0" x 100'-0").
Several floor plan arrangements were studied (four levels of three units per floor and/or three levels of four units) to arrive at the total 12 units. The design team settled on placing two (2) live-work units per floor to create a structure 50'-0" wide and 130'-0" tall. This created a more aesthetically pleasing proportion to the building and left approximately one-half of the site open to the sky to the north. Pulling the north façade away from the property line allowed for more fenestration at this elevation to capture more of the desirable northern light. The typical floor plate is bisected by a north-south breezeway. The living portion of the condominiums are located on the west side of the breezeway and allow for views of downtown Sarasota and the Gulf of Mexico beyond (at the higher levels). The 'work' portion of the condominiums are located at the east side. Each residential unit has a separate entrance for the live vs. the work portion allowing 'working' occupants to see clients while keeping their living spaces private and undisturbed.

The condominium units are loft-style with open areas having ceilings heights of 18'-0". This combined with the choice of tectonic materials creates a structure which conveys a sense of economy, efficiency, discipline, and order, essential characteristics of urban loft living.