Block 106 is the runner-up in the 2022 Andersen Bright Ideas Awards in the multifamily category. Explore all of this year’s single family and multifamily winners and runners-up on our Awards page.
In a historically industrial pocket of Montana, northeast of downtown Bozeman, a small area was re-zoned to integrate residential use and encourage pedestrian-centered commercial activity—all while honoring the rich agrarian history of the region. The recently established Northeast Historic Mixed-Use district (NEHMU) provided the context to design for new uses—creating additional opportunities for residents to work and live in this evolving district of Bozeman.
Block 106, a mixed-use project designed by Minarik Architecture, is sited on the premises of a previously vacant industrial storage facility. The larger context of the surrounding landscape includes adjacent agrarian structures, typified by simplistic forms and function-first design. A nod to this architectural vernacular, Block 106 is arranged in two gabled volumes, linked by a horseshoe-shaped central corridor. The ground floor contains pedestrian-driven commercial space for three tenants, while the second and third floors contain residential space for each of the project’s six dwelling units.
For architect Doug Minarik, the agrarian landscape informed the design approach, and guided the positioning of the two volumes on the site. "The magic of the agrarian landscape is the space between forms—form is a backdrop to the activity," Minarik says. Finding inspiration in this concept, Block 106 pivots its two gabled volumes slightly away from each other, creating subtle pockets of space in between, and offering opportunity for light to penetrate these central voids.
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Delicately navigating a mixed-use, multifamily program, Block 106 fluidly weaves together a multitude of functional needs within the same building envelope, addressing public and private space progressively. On the ground floor, glazing is maximized at the street-fronting commercial units to encourage pedestrian interaction in the public realm. Ascending to the second floor, the central corridor represents a semi-private space, and a transitional zone to the residential dwellings. Encompassed within the horseshoe-shaped corridor is the central courtyard, designed for tenant engagement and socialization. Acting as the "front yard" for the units, the green space includes an herb garden, communal seating, and barbecue. Access to each residential unit is located off of the central corridor, completing the transition to fully private living space for the community’s residents.
Throughout the project, windows are apertures to the landscape—natural and built. "The neighborhood’s charm is the dichotomy between industrial buildings and natural landscape," shares Minarik. In the central corridor, large expanses of glass highlight opposing views — Mount Blackmore to the south, and the historic Misco Mill building to the north. In the private residences, windows are pulled close to the floor and ceiling in the living spaces, to maximize incoming light. By contrast, opening sizes are reduced in the bedrooms, with windows placed strategically to frame views.
Decidedly not showy or obtrusive, Block 106’s design—through both form and material—strives to be a vessel from which to experience the eclectic landscape. "It doesn’t challenge the surrounding context for attention," explains Minarik. "In contrast to designing a building to look at, this building was designed to experience and look out and appreciate the surroundings."
Learn more about all the 2022 winners at andersenawards.dwell.com.