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Project of the Year: Preserving century-old style important for downtown building remodel

Friday, July 17 2020 6:00 AM

The Spaghetti Works building, located at 619 E. William St., sat vacant for years. Built in 1894, it originally housed The Wichita Wholesale Grocery Company and was most recently utilized as the Spaghetti Works restaurant.

In 2019, TGC Development enlisted Shelden Architecture to successfully blend the adaptive reuse and new construction of the industrial warehouse into a four-story, 41-unit, upscale apartment complex.

“The developers saw this property as a catalyst for development that shared the front door to Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena,” says Daniel Gensch, project manager and architect. “Completion of Spaghetti Works became the first phase of the recently completed Spaghetti Works District and Naftzger Park Redevelopment projects. The developers were interested in creating a meaningful, upscale, multi-living-unit experience and felt that working within the confines of this historic brick warehouse would allow just that.”

Partnering with Hutton Construction, Integrated Consulting Engineers, MKEC, Landmark Commercial and Rosin Preservation, Shelden Architecture set out to blend the time-honored context with modern-living architectural characteristics, such as new flooring, stainless-steel appliances and granite countertops.

Since the building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2018, it was also essential to preserve the structure’s historic fabric, including 100-year-old brick walls, original tin ceilings and exposed wood columns.

According to interior designer Rianne Moeder, preserving the historical features of the original building contributed to the challenge of designing a new apartment complex meant to attract more people to Wichita’s downtown area.

“The client had many wishes to fit within the budget and almost every apartment was different in size because of the original bones of the building,” says Moeder. “We had to become experts in space optimization and preserve the raw warehouse look with style.”

Gensch says one consideration was the original building’s densely populated column grid that shifts from the fourth to the fifth level, as well as deep floor plates that limited access to the exterior walls.

“This proved a challenge for designing living units that depend on natural light,” he says. “We designed shotgun-style living units that feature partial height separation walls constructed to meet International Building Code. Specially designed soffits were implemented to add shared lighting and camouflage the partial height walls.”

Gensch says the project falls in line with the type of work Shelden Architecture is passionate about.

“This project is a perfect example of empathetic design, one of the values our design firm is based on,” he says. “Designing with empathy requires collaboration. More often than not, the role of the architect is to be the conduit to help clients ‘realize’ architecture. We don’t and shouldn’t do that in a vacuum. Real collaboration takes an architect who can listen, adapt and engage. We felt our entire team was vested in the vision of our owners for this project.”

“The Spaghetti Works Apartments are truly unique,” Moeder says. “In every apartment, you can find history. In the original columns, brick, windows, tin ceilings and even down to the original grocery aisle number plates still there to this day. Living there, you’ll go back in history each day you come home.”


Article by Julie Conner

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