Plaza Taino

Building Forensic Analysis. Communication. Architecture.

Building Failure as a Catalyst for Positive Change

Plaza Taino, a 60 unit, 5 story, affordable senior housing building appeared to be sinking. The exterior brick was cracking, and first floor interior walls were buckling while under slab piping was being crushed.

Soil borings revealed that settlement was not the problem. A lack of enough expansion joints in the brick veneer was causing the cracked bricks. On the interior, part of the first floor slab had been placed on inadequately compacted fill and was breaking apart causing the issues with interior partitions and under slab piping.

The exterior fix was cutting new expansion joints and replacing damaged brick. On the interior more than half the slab would have to be demolished and replaced, along with all the first floor interior elements sitting on top of it.

The demolition work gave us the opportunity to make the first floor work and feel better for the staff and residents. We designed a new maintenance building in the rear to free up interior space for new offices and an exercise room. The building entrance was moved and a new a wide corridor with high ceilings connects it to a newly landscaped rear yard through large windows.

The community room was moved to the front of the building and adjacent to the entry. Doors and windows now open onto a landscaped sitting area that overlooks the street. Finally five existing residential units were relocated and redesigned to be fully accessible.

Shown here are illustrations and photos from a report I prepared for HUD describing the building failures and proposed solutions. The illustrations were designed to make these complex problems easy to understand. The clarity of the information presented by the diagrams, and the report itself, were noted by HUD as a factor in helping them make the decision to fund the design and construction work.

Project Information and Credits:
Firm: Avery Architecture & Design
AAD Project Team: Richard Avery, Design Lead; Ashley Featherstone, Design Intern; Venessa Jimenez, Design Intern
Location: Chicago, IL
Scope: Diagnosis and solutions for major building failures, report to H.U.D., new first floor plan and finishes, new landscaping, and new storage building
Services: Architecture and limited interior design
Size: 10,000 sf, 5 redesigned residential units, offices, community room, and accessory spaces
Budget: Approx. $2m for all construction
Client: Hispanic Housing Development Corporation
Lanscape Architect: Joseph Davito
Structural Engineer: Louis Shell Structures
MEP Engineer: DBHMS
Builder: Tropic Construction, Rafalo Corp.
Photos: Richard Avery
Project Duration: Seven years