Magnolia House – Ithaca NY
Located in Ithaca New York, Tompkins Community Action is a sterling leader in assisting those in need throughout Tompkins County, New York. The “Magnolia House”, a residency for women in recovery is the latest accomplishment for TCA. Travis Price Architects won the commission by stressing a strong sense of modern design, sustainable practices, and most importantly a keen understanding of the occupants needs.
The project on a small lot abutting the men’s shelter, Chartwell House, had numerous constraints. The design accommodates 14 living units, administrative services, classrooms and a commercial teaching kitchen. Most of the construction cost and land acquisition was federally funded. TCA’s leadership under Lee Dillon and Danielle Harrington were instrumental in achieving this highly touted success. As the building bids came in under budget, the additional funds were readily allocated to add solar hot water heating, high efficiency LED lighting, and a first class educational commercial kitchen. Travis Price Architects with project architect Luciana Lessa took great pride in not only achieving the full requirements on a tight budget, highlighting energy selfsufficiency, but also for adding an aesthetic to the project that sets a high standard of modernism for shelter housing.
Magnolia House is a three story multi-family residential building that serves single women with their children who are homeless and in recovery from drug and/or alcohol abuse. The project consists of 14 enhanced studio units of permanent housing. The ground level has multiple common spaces that provide the residents on site supportive services that focus on building life skills (i.e. common living room, dining room, kitchen/cooking classroom, training classroom and a children’s playroom as well as staff facilities and 2 residential units.) The two floors above are solely residential with 6 units per floor. Each floor also has a common laundry room and sitting area.
An outdoor patio/entrance functions as a central core joining the Magnolia House with the existing Chartwell House. The site design is a longitudinal lot facing east and west. The project uses passive solar access and control wherever possible with its staggered walls and rear garden access. The longitudinal design maximizes the square footage for the Residential use as well as common outdoor areas.
Besides designing for a friendly urban pedestrian experience, all efforts were made to make the space compatible with comfortable and pleasant living. Natural light and materials, friendly common spaces with gardens, educational facilities, and comfortable rooms are the primary design goals.
When last visited, Travis Price was approached by one of the new residents who ecstatically proclaimed she loved the project so much that she was planning on making a Gingerbread model of the building. This couldn’t have been a more enjoyable Christmas present for 2014 !