CAFÉ 524 has evolved over the course of two years since its initial inception in the fall of 2009. The timeline shows the progression forward as collaboration with many neighborhood and external partners developed the café into a comprehensive project. Throughout the process, community involvement was crucial to the design and business developments of CAFÉ 524.
The 2009-2010 UDBS began work in Homewood with the Urban Laboratory Studio. Through a series of community meetings with the residents of Homewood and North Point Breeze, the students strove to understand and embrace the culture of this unique place. Various housing and ecological studies were done, in conjunction with social, commercial, and infrastructural frameworks for development. This allowed the UDBS to become familiar with the community’s aspirations and propose projects to begin the process of growth. After collecting community feedback on the projects, the people of Homewood expressed a desire for a neighborhood gathering place.
The spring of 2010 was spent designing CAFÉ 524. The proposal will reuse the brick shell of an existing building and turn it into a vibrant community gathering space with light food service. Major aspirations of the café are to connect Homewood residents with their neighbors and to promote sustainable design strategies. Through the iterative process, a new southern enclosure wall began to serve both goals. It will increase and control natural ventilation as well as be a visual draw for patrons. Located inside the existing building envelope, the wall will also create an outdoor arcade for patio seating on the south side of the café. As the semester progressed, the UDBS developed the schematic design into a set of construction documents and decided on the southern enclosure wall as the element to be built by the students.
During the summer of 2010, the studio focused on the construction of two 90-foot long reconstituted glass walls which will span the inside of the south arcade. This process began as a series of small detail and assembly mockups and expanded to a mock-up of an entire bay before final pre-fabrication of the walls in an off-site warehouse. The hands on approach to design increased the students’ understanding of construction and drawing documents. The final wall design was made up of smaller modules to allow for disassembly, transportation, and reassembly once construction begins on the existing building site.