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Fascinating Rhythm

Baker Barrios Architects

Designing buildings and communities that infuse culture and style


Jan/Feb 2012 $24.95 USD $26.30 CAN



Fascinating Rhythm

With projects such as Tampa’s Encore development, Baker Barrios aims to infuse their work with culture and heart. Story by Paige L. Hill Photos by Ben Tanner Photography


usic and architecture may first appear to have little in common, but look a little closer and you’ll soon see how the harmonious structure of a well-timed waltz has the same discipline and flair of a well-designed home – like the Encore development being built in the birthplace of America’s jazz movement in the heart of Tampa, Fla. Designed by Baker Barrios Architects, the Encore development is under construction and is already receiving applause for its innovative housing. The firm recently was honored with a Master Planning and Urban Design Award from the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission. The Encore project – a public private partnership between the Tampa Housing Authority and Bank of America Community Development Corporation – will transform 28-acres of land located between downtown Tampa and Ybor City as a LEED-ND Certified, mixed-use, transit oriented community throughout the next decade. “Encore has been such an interesting project because it is located in a blighted neighborhood with a long history of segregation,” Tim Baker said, architect and founder of Baker Barrios Architects in 1993. “Since the 1870’s this has been like a city within a city of African Americans which became very culturally rich and musical. James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, among others all started to write music in that neighborhood.” The complete build-out of the $600 million project will provide more than 1,500 work force housing, senior and market rate residential units, 200 hotel rooms, a 35,000 sq. ft. grocery store, 180,000 sq. ft. of office space, 85,000 sq. ft. of retail space, a middle school, an African American history museum, multiple public parks and recreation spaces. “This has always been a vibrant community in spirit and now we want to reflect that in our design,” Baker said. The formerly barrack-style homes in 2 Architecture Leaders Today

a neighborhood often referred to as “The Scrub” will now be comfortable, desirable housing for deserving families. Baker Barrios also resisted using a traditional grid style for streets and buildings in favor of a more freestyle flow to echo the musical theme. Music, in particular, aided the firm in naming the development, Encore. “The central avenue through the Encore development has been named Ray Charles Boulevard after one of the area’s most famous natives,” Baker said. The eight-story Ray Charles building will be focused on active senior living and keeping the family together in multi-generational living situations. The units will feature cantilever balconies and the non-uniform placement of the building’s windows will take on the staccato Charles’ music. The nearby Ray Charles park will feature a large statue of the music icon. The first building the firm has broken ground on is the “Ella” after Ella Fitzgerald. These multi-storied apartments are sized and priced to attract young families and neighborhood-minded tenants. With a nod to the traditional African American lifestyle that once thrived in the area, the Ella affordable housing units all feature a small outside space to act as the “front porch.” Those porches are meant to be the welcome mat to passersby and other members of the community “Our work is not just functional; not just housing and store. It speaks to the history and the future community. Our design is not static by any means, we’ve incorporated a lot of rhythm into the exterior design of the places,” Baker said. “That sort of dynamic is what makes this neighborhood really come alive and we hope it will continue to be a staple in this community for years to come.” The project will be ongoing, but will allow residents to move in as buildings are completed. Widely recognized for creating world-class hotels and resorts, cultural arts


opposite: Ella at Encore, Tampa, Fla. Currently under construction, the Ella is the first building to break ground on a 40+ acre mixed-use redevelopment district in downtown Tampa. The Ella is named after famous local, Ella Fitzgerald. The musical theme is used throughout the development as a nod to musical greats who once resided there. Rendering by Baker Barrios Architects. below, Left to Right: Principals Carlos Barrios and Tim Baker right & bottom: The Plaza, Orlando, Fla. Situated in the epicenter of downtown, The Plaza is home to Baker Barrios Architects’ headquarters and is considered Orlando’s premier location for commercial and residential tenants. The towers were designed by Baker Barrios Architects and the South Tower lobby (pictured) was designed by the firm’s Interior Design Studio.

venues, convention centers, mixed-use properties and higher education facilities, Baker Barrios was a perfect fit to meet the unique needs of liberal arts school Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. The firm broke ground last fall on a new, university-owned hotel, Alfond Inn, to welcome visiting students and family. “We approached this project as designing the gateway to the university since it will be the first impression for so many visiting the school and for potential students,” Baker said. The roughly 100,000 sq. ft. facility will feature approximately 112 guest rooms, 8,000 sq. ft. of ballroom and meeting space, an iconic conservatory, signature restaurant, elevated pool deck, bar, fitness center and a series of courtyards. With the construction, Rollins anticipates adding 200 interim and 100 permanent full-time jobs to the local workforce. “The core of this project is truly giving back to the school and the students, so we acknowledged this project was unlike designing any other hotel in our design,” Baker said. The new hotel, which will serve as guest lodging to both Rollins and the greater Winter Park community, is possible thanks to a $12.5 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. The unique structure of the Foundation grant creates an endowed fund that will be used to establish the Alfond Scholars program—the College’s premier scholarship fund, which will offer full scholarships and provide additional

financial aid to deserving students for years to come. Net operating income from the Inn will be directed to the fund over the next 25 years or until the endowment principal reaches $50 million, whichever comes later. “Though this hotel will boast all the modern amenities, we really looked at the history of this area and the influences on the design in creating our own,” Baker said. “People like Louis Comfort Tiffany really brought art nouveau into play with exaggerated and highly stylized iron work and manicured landscaping.” Landscaping was a significant driver in creating the perimeters of the new hotel by choosing to preserve the 100-year-old oak trees which canopy the campus and build around them. The Alfond Inn incorporates both the art nouveau style and the lush gardens of the campus in the elaborate courtyard. The Inn wraps around the courtyard boasting 80-year-old palm trees and dark red bougainvillea. Just overhead is a richly ornate iron clad glass roof. “The courtyard really became the driver in the whole project,” Baker said. “The courtyard’s garden is what makes staying at the hotel a unique experience both to the Winter Park area and to the university.” Looking to the future, the Baker Barrios Architects firm is taking on more mixed-use projects, especially those with a history and a culture which can be reincarnated in their innovative designs. ALT January/February 2012 3

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This page: One Eleven, Orlando, Fla. Turner Construction and Barrios Architects collaborated on the Dynetech corporate headquarters -- a signature tenant of this class A, mixeduse building in downtown Orlando. Formerly known as the Dynetech building, One Eleven was designed by Baker Barrios Architects and defines the Orlando skyline. Photo by Ben Tanner Photography opposite: Amway Center, Orlando, Fla. Populous, in partnership with Baker Barrios Architects and Turner Construction brought a new life to Orlando by providing a LEED Gold venue for the Orlando Magic basketball games, concerts and other large-scale events.

4 Architecture Leaders Today

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aker Barrios Architects isn’t your runof-the-mill architecture and interiors firm. The cultured vision of partners Tim Baker and Carlos Barrios is grounded in innovative and functional design, focused on the clients, and respectful of contractor input throughout the process. Their focus on problem-solving and a team environment is what has made them successful over the years, and the crew at Turner Construction agrees. “The outstanding thing about working with Tim and his staff is that they understand how to merge innovative design with value-driven methods of construction,” said Mark Batia, Turner’s project manager on the Dynetech interiors project. “They do not shy away from understanding the details of how things go together. They are strong advocates for their client, while at the same time showing a true respect for and willingness to work with the contractor to create beautiful designs that stay within budget.” Batia added that Baker’s support staff has a significant impact in the success of a project. “Tim Baker’s entire staff embraces his desire to create a culture of collaboration and creativity in working with Turner for our mutual client,” Batia said. “They have a committed and focused standard of care and quality in their work and their relationship with our Turner organization.” Turner Construction also credits their solid working relationship to Baker Barrios’ mission to assemble a team of outstanding professionals within an enjoyable and nurturing environment to produce innovative ideas and quality design which results in firm and individual growth, recognition and profitability -- a trait that came in handy on Turner’s recent LEED Gold Orlando office renovation project.

“The impressive patience of Chad Byerly and Rob Blakeslee with the necessities of working around an occupied office setting, while staying focused on the interior detailing truly made the office design an award winner,” project manager T.J. Sellers said. “It is very refreshing to work with an architect that works as your partner in solving these types of details and challenges that are often associated with interior build-outs and retrofits.” Baker’s “anything is possible” attitude is what makes him an ideal builder’s architect. “Baker Barrios is a reflection of Tim and Carlos; they are dynamic advocates for their client’s vision and design desires at all times during the course of our work with them,” said Bryan Boykin, Turner’s Orlando manager. Baker Barrios’ work in Orlando and Tampa, Fla. and Atlanta, Ga. has changed the cityscapes and put them on the map. “In our management of the new LEED Gold Amway Center, we feel that Baker Barrios inspired and infused many of the outstanding interior design elements within the new complex and the richness of their talent on this project is only surpassed by the delight of the crowds using the spaces within the center that they helped to create. Tim and Carlos are to be commended for their role on this important piece of civic architecture for the City of Orlando and the Orlando Magic.”

distinctly different

Tim Baker and Carlos Barrios of Baker Barrios Architects’ long standing partnership with Turner Construction is no coincidence — they strive to be ideal “builder’s architects.” Story by Paige L. Hill Photos by John Randle Photography

January/February 2012 5

Baker Barrios  

With projects such as Tampa’s Encore development, Baker Barrios aims to infuse their work with culture and heart

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