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3RD SPACE The Partnership Promise


The Partnership Promise


table of contents

Managing Editor Rosswell Saunders Art Director TJ Blanchflower Graphic Designer Elizabeth Stalica Staff Writers Rosswell Saunders Leah Cutsinger Photography TJ Blanchflower Steve Budman Rachel Ceasar Len Rothman Rosswell Saunders Elizabeth Stalica

METROPOLITAN HAMPTON ROADS 4505 Columbus Street Suite 100 Virginia Beach, VA 23462 T 757 222 2010 F 757 222 2022 METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON 11921 Freedom Drive Suite 250 Reston, VA 20190 T 703 481 6677 F 703 481 6675


08 The Partnership Promise Public / Private Partnerships have become something of a golden egg for both city governments and private entities alike. However, it takes more than mutual attraction to create a relationship that is both healthy and profitable. In this issue, 3rd Space looks at the steps necessary to ensure that partnerships last longer than the time it takes for the ink to dry.

VOLUME 05 / ISSUE Cover Rocketts Landing Village, Richmond, Virginia Inside Cover Town Center of Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach, Virginia Photo Credit: Len Rothman

18 Quick Fix Desperate for relief from suburban sprawl, many cities are resorting to public policy and regulatory solutions which may be causing more harm than good.


04 Letter

06 Sustainability Whether it’s cars, clothes, TV’s, or video games, human beings love stuff. We crave it. We need it. But where are the energy and resources used to make all that stuff coming from? In this first installment of our new editorial department dedicated to all things Green, we tackle two of the most serious and concerning questions surrounding sustainability: Will there be enough resources to keep our societies going? And can we continue to produce enough energy to meet our future needs?

20 news / updates Herndon Element Hotel Walker Nature Education Center Renaissance Station East Bank Tower The Belmont at City Center Town Pavillion Center II 210 Rock Cedar Works II


Publisher & Editor-in-Chief CMSS Architects, PC John Crouse Burrell Saunders

Drawing BoarD VoluMe 4 issue 2


Architecture :: urbAn plAnning :: lAndscApe Architecture :: interior design :: grAphic design


letter to the reader Dear Reader, You may be wondering exactly how this periodical found its way into your mailbox. “3rd Space?” you say to yourself, “Never heard of it.” It’s true. You haven’t heard of us. But let’s be fair, it’s only our first issue. Now you’re probably thinking, “Ok, I get it. It’s new. But why am I getting it? I never signed up for this. I mean, I think I would remember something like that.” This is also true, though, I can assure you, we didn’t pick you at random. You see, before publishing 3rd Space we produced another publication called DRAWING BOARD. We hope you’ve heard of it. You were on the mailing list. Published quarterly from 2002 through the Spring of 2008, DRAWING BOARD was the award-winning newsletter of the more award-winning architectural design and planning firm, CMSS Architects. For the better part of a decade it served as the source for information on CMSS and its projects, as well as a place to explore current trends in mixed-use development and urban planning. It was very successful, in no small part due to its dedicated readership (that’s you). So if


so great, why the makeover? Simply put, times change. mission had been to introduce progressive urban design concepts to an industry only vaguely familiar with alternatives to sprawling, suburban development. For six years, it effective fulfilled this mission. But as these ideas have gained mainstream traction, they have also produced a more knowledgeable and sophisticated audience, one looking for a more substantive discussion than DRAWING BOARD could effectively deliver. In short, the book began to feel very much like an animal that had outgrown its skin. So, we decided to molt. We won’t go into all the various styles and aesthetics we experimented with. Suffice to say that we explored a ton of different approaches. In the end, we settled on the look you hold in your hand. While bigger, cleaner, and more visually unified than its predecessor, 3rd Space still includes all of the thought-provoking ideas that you’ve come to expect from DRAWING BOARD. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a redesign is we didn’t take things a step further. In addition to its visual makeover, 3rd Space also features expanded editorial content, including new departments, larger images, and longer, more in depth articles, all punctuated by a clear, direct editorial voice and superior visual composition. Now as savvy, professional types, we realize that this new look is a significant departure from our old format. For this reason, we’d love to hear what you think about our new direction. Please send all comments, both positive and negative, to 3rdspace@ Reader satisfaction is our number one goal, so any input that can help us develop a more satisfying experience is welcome. Thanks for giving 3rd Space a shot. We hope you like it and look forward to hearing your comments.

left DRAWING BOARD select covers from 2006–2008

comments Please email comments to: 3rdspace@cmssarchitects. com

Yours Truly,


The Editorial Staff

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Managing the NAtural Deficit

by: Rosswell Saunders

But if this national dialogue has revealed anything, it’s that there are more questions than answers. Among the most pressing: Will there be enough resources to keep our societies going? Can we continue to produce enough energy to meet our needs? In this first installment of Sustainability, we’re going to lay out the basics on these two serious and common questions, particularly their potential impact on the future of the planet and all us billions who happen to live on it. Let’s start with natural resources. Will the earth be run out of these at some point, and, if so, will it be sometime soon? It’s true that with more and more countries moving towards modern, developed economies, think China and India, the world’s finite resources are becoming increasingly precious. Some experts predict that, barring a change in consumption or technology, we could run out of many non-renewable resources sometime this century. In their 2006 Living Planet Report, the World Wildlife Fund postulated that by 2050 humanity will require two planets to meet its resource requirements. “A moderate business-as-usual scenario, based on United Nations projections showing slow, steady growth of economies and populations, suggests that by midcentury, humanity’s demand on nature will be twice the biosphere’s productive capacity.” Others seem to agree. In an article for NewScientist (dot)com, journalist David Cohen talks to scientists around the world in an attempt to ascertain just how serious resource depletion is becoming. According to Cohen’s sources, at least six important nonfuel minerals, including gold, silver, tin, zinc, indium, and antimony, are at risk of global depletion with the next 50 years.

The energy situation doesn’t look much better. We are still completely dependent on fossil fuels, specifically coal, natural gas, and of course oil, for the majority of our energy. According to the American Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, fossil fuels are responsible for as much as 80% of the world’s energy. As global energy demand continues to grow, a perpetual sense of dread has taken root amid fears that these vital resources may eventually run out. The good news is history doesn’t support this scenario. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, a non-partisan public policy research organization, various individuals and groups, including the oil industry itself, have been predicting the exhaustion of petroleum supplies since at least the mid-19th Century. Even so, not all of these claims were erroneous. Some may have come true had new technology not emerged that allowed us to find or reach previously inaccessible supplies. These types of technological advances seem to be the crux of the argument for the continued availability of petroleum resources. For example, many petroleum sources are known and simply out of reach, awaiting better drilling techniques. Still other unconventional sources, such as tar sands and oil shales, could produce large quantities of petroleum if more efficient means of processing were developed. But even if we can develop new technologies to alleviate our oil pains, should we? Supply concerns aside, sound science exists demonstrating oil’s negative impact on the environment and strong correlation to climate change. Maybe mankind should channel its incredible creative capacity into the development of new energy sources, such as geothermal and solar, instead of resuscitating a terminal system whose days are numbered. Regardless of how we choose to address sustainability, the important thing is that we take action. Sustainable practices are no longer noble, they are essential. As members of the development industry, we are particularly well equipped to affect some of these changes. By committing to responsible development models, such as high-density, vertical development and pedestrian-oriented mixed-used, we can create environments that provide people with the means to change some of their habits, resulting in both profits and a positive impact on the planet. 


Sustainability… you may or may not know what it means, but you’ve certainly heard it shouted from the rooftops for the past five years. Across every type of media, journalists, pundits, industry insiders, and the general public are locked in a ceaseless debate over how to ensure the continued and future existence of human society. I think it’s safe to say that the sustainability issue has finally reached its tipping point.




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Future Town Center of Virginia Beach

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Old Town Village Fairfax Fairfax, Virginia

hroughout the U.S. development industry, the phrase public/private partnerships is becoming synonymous with success. But pooling the talents of both public and private sectors can be trickier than it sounds. When public/ private partnerships first began to catch on in the late eighties and early nineties, most professionals, on both sides of the public/private fence, were skeptical. How could two entities with what seemed like diametrically opposed points-of-view, whose goals are often divergent, if not in direct contention, possibly form a cohesive agreement that promised mutual benefit? The proof, as it often does, proved to be in the pudding. Over the past decade and a half, cities from around the country have successfully utilized this tool to achieve all manner of projects. Urban revitalization projects, conference centers, shipping ports, new town centers, and other complex projects whose hefty capital requirements would have rendered them impossible have all been realized through this type of collaboration.

density and introducing mixed use, we’re changing the complexion and character and value of that [district].” Kingston is adamant that this project would not have happened without the public participation. “I don’t think you could do [this] without a strong partnership.” Success stories such as this have led to the perception of public/private partnerships as a veritable golden egg, a method of achieving projects, particularly real estate developments, which are otherwise unachievable. But while this new excitement has increased interest in these types of agreements, it has not necessarily increased understanding of how they work. Combining the talents of public officials, community leaders, private investors, and developers can be tricky. The following are some of the fundamental building blocks of a prosperous partnership, ones which can make or break potential and fledgling agreements. If aspiring partners can successfully identify and implement these initiatives, they will have established a solid foundation on which to build a successful, productive, and mutually beneficial relationship.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia , a variety of public/private endeavors are currently underway. In Northern Virginia, the state has entered into an agreement with a private developer to add 4 new HOT, high occupancy toll, lanes to the severely over-taxed Capital Beltway. The developers of Rocketts Landing, a mixed-use project in Richmond, have formed three separate agreements, one with the City of Richmond, one with the County of Henrico, and one with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, to realize their vision of an urban village on the banks of the James River.

A shared vision is crucial. Consensus regarding opportunities and objectives for the community must be built early in the partnership process. The local government must clearly establish its longterm goals, and the overall development strategy must be described in full to the public. A genuine consensus must include all stakeholders, and the process must allow them the opportunity to contribute to the shared vision.

“These kinds of projects are a great way to upgrade your city image,” says Florence Kingston, Director of Development for the Newport News’ Economic Development Authority (NNEDA). Her agency has partnered with private development group Oyster Point Town Center, LLC to create City Center at Oyster Point, a $425 million, mixeduse, high-density urban center designed to realign the city’s downtown with its shifting population. The project has seen $87 million in funding from the city’s economic development authority in its initial three phases in the form of infrastructure, parking, and central fountain lake as well as a new hotel and conference center. “By increasing urban

In downtown Fairfax, Virginia, a long-recognized community need for an urban core helped lead the way to a clear common vision. City leaders and the public sought to repair the fragmented, traffic-choked Old Town District with a program that would re-stitch the fabric of the community and satisfy modern real estate needs. After meeting with stakeholders, including community groups and local business, it became clear that preserving the area’s historic character was paramount. The community then beagn the search for a development team that shared the community’s vision and could achieve their goals. The final team, composed of Trammell Crow, Walnut

Build a Common Vision

PARTNERSHIP PROMISE Street, and J. Donegan Company, is now taking a series of underdeveloped sites and using them to remake downtown Fairfax in accordance with this vision. The City of Fairfax, in partnership with the planners and developers, is also working to bring about changes in zoning and codes that will support the development. As the project moves forward, decisions are consistently tested to see that they fully support the shared vision. Having a community champion to keep the common vision in sharp focus is critical. This person should be fully committed to realizing the ultimate goal, motivating others to support it, and implementing it. For Fairfax, this role was filled by the mayor,

Robert F. Lederer. Lederer was able to bring the right people to the table and keep all the stakeholders on the same page, build bridges between private parties and political officials, and maintain a long-term commitment to the project.

Clearly Define the Public Benefits An honest assessment of the public benefits stemming from the project is essential to a successful partnership. Enhanced quality of life, increased capital investment, job creation, improved city image, stronger tax base and expanded infrastructure…all are potential benefits; however, every project does not necessarily have the potential to


An honest assessment of the public benefits stemming from the project is essential to a successful partnership.


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As residents of a free and open society, the responsibility for making our communities better places belongs to all of its citizens.

3rd space yield them all. The public sector needs to be clear on what objectives it hopes to achieve through partnership. A straightforward appraisal of potential benefits exposes both risks and gains creating an atmosphere of honesty that can serve to bolster community support and assure both public and private partners that the project is a win-win proposition.

opposite East Bank Tower Rocketts Landing Village Richmond, Virginia

When planning began for Rocketts Landing, a mixed-use development in Richmond, the potential benefits were numerous. By reclaiming an abandoned brownfield and returning the land to productive use, the public would see enormous increases in tax revenue, from $50,000 annually prior to development to $3,000,000 upon completion, while regaining a historically significant piece of land that will eventually reconnect the citizens with the James River and its rich heritage, recreational potential, and natural beauty. Working with several jurisdictions, the Richmond City Council and Henrico County Board of Supervisors, the development team negotiated new zoning categories and came up with a master plan for the project. New land use delineations were unanimously approved, reflecting the community’s support of the plan to take a neglected brownfield and make it productive again.

Base Decisions on Local Socio-Economic Realities

If the partnership does not take into account social and economic realities, then the project— and ultimately the partnership—is destined for troubled waters.


Albemarle Place, a mixed-use development near Charlottesville, illustrates the importance of understanding the local market. The project will create an urban style district along the Route 29 corridor on the border between Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville. A new design form was contracted when it became clear that the original master plan, which did not take into account local absorption rates, was ill-fitted to the socioeconomic structure of the area. Working with a Chicago-based developer, the new firm redesigned the project to match the absorption characteristics of the market, while also working closely with the community to create the type of development envisioned. The project is now being designed in response to the wants, needs, and economic realities of the community.

As residents of a free and open society, the responsibility for making our communities better places belongs to all of its citizens. Economic implementation strategies can help partnerships avoid these types of mistakes before they are made. These strategies, when based on dependable analytical tools such as market studies, can help ensure a project’s viability by providing the information necessary to create a plan that is responsive to local economic forces. What is the demand for residential, retail, and office space in the particular community? What consumer needs are being under- or over-served? What type of development will the local market support? Plans without an economic implementation strategy aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Keeping the Community in the Loop As residents of a free and open society, the responsibility for making our communities better places belongs to everyone. Communities must have a sense of ownership in order for joint partnerships to succeed. This means citizens must be actively involved from the start in order for their needs to be addressed and advanced throughout the planning process. When dealing with the more complex nature of public/private developments, open communication among the city, the planners, the developer, and the community is especially important. Several tools can help keep the community in the loop: charettes, public hearings, and open planning exercises are all effective means of community involvement. The involvement and support of the media can also be helpful in generating community interest and participation. When Virginia Beach began discussing its need for an urban core in the mid-eighties, the city went through pains to ensure that the debate was as open and public as possible. For years, the project was characterized by false starts, stabled plans, revisions and community-wide divisions. While this type of atmosphere might seem negative, it was actually indicative of a healthy development



PARTNERSHIP PROMISE An active participant in city planning since first elected to City Council in 1976, current Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf says that involving the public from day one made all the difference. Oberndorf recalls planners appeared on local government access television for a public reading of the full contract (development agreement). The broadcast ran for several hours. “They took the time to discuss traffic planning, infrastructure and financing under the harsh glare of public scrutiny,” she says. The end result of that prolonged, sometimes contentious, but inclusive process was the broad-based support of citizens, elected leaders, planners, civic groups, and even the once-skeptical local media. Notes the five-term mayor, “This project truly came from the community it was designed to serve.”

Stay Flexible Contractual relationships regarding the partnership, as well as building and zoning codes, must be designed for flexibility. The ability to adapt quickly allows the project to respond to current market conditions, creating a project which can evolve along with the community it calls home. This is especially important with complex mixeduse projects such as town and city centers. Newport News EDA Director Kingston refers to the partnership agreement governing Oyster Point as a living document. The agreement between the city and the developer sets up the framework for a partnership over the life of the project, with the expectation that the EDA will approach the city for infrastructure funding as the developer brings on line more private investors throughout future phases. “It really is a living document,” she says, “one that can be frustrating to have to amend. But it leaves open to negotiation how we would move into the future.” Flexibility is also imperative with respect to zoning, especially when dealing with complex mixed-use ventures which can take decades to build out, says John Crouse, Principal of Virginia Beach-based CMSS Architects. “This kind of lengthy development timeline makes these projects especially susceptible to market changes,” he says. “The worse scenario is

“By increasing urban density and introducing mixed use, we’re changing the complexion and character and value.” to have zoning laws so restrictive that development stops when conditions change.” Crouse points to Town Center of Virginia Beach as a good example. Following the completion of the first phase, Town Center’s master plan was revisited to determine what kinds of uses were needed next. Partnership members determined that Phase II would require a stronger focus on residential and retail uses, thereby responding to dominant market forces and adding critical mass to an already thriving development.

opposite City Center at Oyster Point Newport News, Virginia

Now entering its fourth phase, Town Center has lost none of its initial flexibility. With the residential market firmly in retreat, the partnership has refocused again. Retail remains an important growth category, but office space has once again moved back into center ring. One commercial office project is already under construction and plans for a new 20-story office tower are currently in the works. In a modern real estate environment almost completely dominated by the suburban development model, effective community placemaking requires the leveraging of both public and private resources, as well as their combined intellectual and creative commitment. Mutual trust, open communication, flexibility, and a long-term commitment to the project enable the kinds of partnerships that in turn make our communities vibrant, cherished places of value and longevity. Though relationships between public and private sector entities often require a substantial amount of patience and understanding, the potential benefits these partnerships can yield is, in the end, well worth the effort.


process which ultimately led to the creation of a place that reflects the community’s vision.

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Many people think they’ve found simple, straight-forward solutions to suburban sprawl. But do their approaches stand up to scrutiny?

It doesn’t take an expert to see that many people are frustrated with the way their cities function. They are tired of spending their days in traffic. They are bored with row after row of corporate branded architecture. They don’t see why everything has to be so far away from every- thing else. At the same time, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of giving up their cars. They don’t really understand mixed use. They shudder at the very mention of the word density. This reality is forcing many cities to ask a fundamental question: How do you resolve today’s development issues when the solutions are considered as undesirable as the problems? Most stakeholders, on both the public and private side of the fence, seem genuinely baffled as to the answer. However, one thing is for certain, there is no miracle design movement or single piece of legislation that will curtail sprawl. The question is no longer whether suburban cities will have to make compromises on issues such as density and mixed use, but when. Even so, there are still many people who have a difficult time accepting this inevitability, questioning why a solution to sprawl should require any deviation from standard practices. Some even argue that it doesn’t. Restrictions on growth or stronger zoning, they insist, can force expansion to occur responsibly. So, are they right?

GROWTH IS THE PROBLEM No growth, no problem. This has become the mantra of many suburban communities. It’s an understandable perspective. When confronted with growth-related issues such as traffic congestion, insufficient services, and/or a lack of affordable housing, a no-growth philosophy can feel like the right answer. After all, growing is hard. But while no-growth may seem logical, it is usually counterproductive.


Most cities are aware of this on some level. In practice, municipalities very rarely want a complete end to growth. More often, they attempt to foster some forms of development and restrict others.

One city may be interested in more commercial development but not the residential expansion that tends to come with it. Another might want to expand its infrastructure, only supporting development along established corridors. Regardless, when examined closely, no-growth is usually a synonym for highly selective growth.

Residential development and expansion is a particularly popular target of no-growth policy. More homes mean more services and more infrastructure, which, in turn, requires more money from city coffers. An influx of new residents can also bring sociopolitical changes that may be disquieting to existing residents. When confronted with these possibilities, many cities become reactive, looking to restrictive policies and legislation to solve a complicated issue. However, when implemented, these policies can create a variety of unforeseen consequences. Even high-priority initiatives, such as economic development, can suffer greatly under the influence of residential no-growth policy. When asked, most municipalities will tell you that economic development is one of their highest priorities. They want to attract as many new, high-paying jobs as possible. However, many cities undermine this goal by declaring war on the residential expansion these jobs usually trigger. There are few companies out there interested in opening an empty office and filling it only with those they can hire from the immediate area. They want to bring their leaders and their go-to people. They want to hire the best talent anywhere, and that often means from outside the area. That’s why they picked that community. It’s a nice place to live. It gives them a competitive edge. And there will still be jobs for existing residents. By implementing slow-growth, or worse, nogrowth policies targeted at residential development, cities across the country are undermining their economic prosperity. It is simply unrealistic to think that you can attract business and not business people. A similar case can be made against any sort of restrictive growth practice. No-growth thinking distracts our focus from the real issues at hand in our cities. Public policy should be proactive, not reactive. If growth is accepted as a fact, municipalities will have more time to develop ways of creating healthy, efficient, livable communities.

quick fix When Euclidian Zoning appeared in the early half of the 20th century, it was seen as a major advancement in urban planning. Cities finally had a means of guiding development to achieve specific goals and protect public interests. Now, nearly 100 years later, most communities are still waiting for zoning to live up to its original promise. Even so, most cities still cling to zoning like a lifeline. When asked whether they would be willing to abandon zoning codes altogether, many city officials have been known to respond with a series of shocked gasps and disapproving looks. It’s not hard to understand why zoning is such a comforting, and sensitive, concept for so many. It’s presence helps people feel protected while simultaneously relieving them of the burden of difficult decision making. Unfortunately, letting a system based on idealized order, rather than basic human needs, dictate how cities are built has generally led to places that cater to arbitrary mechanisms, such as the car, rather than to people. Under current zoning ordinances, it is no longer possible to build cities based on traditional forms. Mixed use is now essentially illegal. Excessive setbacks, which erode our streetscapes and play havoc with human scaling, have become the norm. Suburban parking ratios, which do not account for the possibility of shared parking, often make garages cost prohibitive. How can planners be expected to combat sprawl when their hands have been tied so completely? No one is suggesting the total eradication of zoning. Zoning codes have helped to usher in some very important changes over the years. Initial and basic separation of some uses, such as heavy industry, was a necessary improvement for general public health. However, the modern employment of this tool is no longer in touch with its original intent.

MOVING FORWARD Even after addressing these types of issues, there are still a few obstacles that must be overcome before a community can really move forward. First, residents have to begin to recognize how their actions, and the actions of future generations, impact the character of their cities. Many citizens often complain about the problems within their

communities, yet they continue to act in ways that perpetuate these problems. Complaining alone rarely works. City leaders have to help their citizenry adopt a proactive role in the development of their communities. Second, communities have to break through the inertia of disbelief that tends to surround major community development projects. Many cities and towns suffer from a form of collective low selfesteem. These localities do not consider themselves vital enough to support such efforts and often fear negative repercussions. Comprehensive development must be built on solid numbers, but belief and support are just as crucial. City leaders have to help their constituents get past their insecurities and recognize the possibilities. Without creating a core base of confident, engaged citizens, major change is not possible. Once these two tasks have been achieved, your city is ready to come together to establish a collaborative, community vision. This vision should be an expression of the community in both character and personality and should be based on realistic priorities and goals. It will act as your city’s map for the future as well as its standard against which all future decision can and should be measured. So, once your city has developed a unified vision and garnered the support it needs to effect change, then what? Where do you go from there? That’s when things become less certain. The reality is, there is no formula for creating a well-planned city. Every community will have its own unique way of addressing its future development. Sometimes the solution will be to manage expansion, ensuring that growth supports and maintains the city’s comprehensive vision. Sometimes it will be redeveloping a deteriorated and neglected urban core. Sometimes it will require the galvanization of an existing economic base to create an integrated, new downtown. Whatever the individual solution, it falls to community leaders to help their citizens see that there is a way to move forward. Once you unlock that door, once you change people’s attitudes and gain their trust, they will begin to understand that responsible planning and development are a way of protecting and safeguarding their communities for the future.



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news / updates 210 Rock Building

Town Pavilion Center II

A part of the Rocketts Landing mixed-use development in Richmond, Virginia, 210 Rock Building is the latest residential addition to the project. With construction over 70 percent complete, the sixstory, 93,000 square foot building will soon bring many new tenants and the first eight retail spaces to the neighborhood. With its distinctive, contemporary style, 210 Rock Building appeals to the young professional demographic, offering one- and two-bedroom condominium units as well as twostory lofts with 18-foot, floor-to-ceiling windows.

Construction has begun on Towne Pavilion Center II, an 84,000 square foot, Class A office building in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The five-story headquarters will be home to Towne Bank as well as additional tenants. The building’s lobby reflects its efficiency with a neutral, minimalist interior, providing a simple background for tenant build out as well as a revolving collection of local art. Town Pavilion Center II is designed to blend with the architecture of the nearby Towne Pavilion Center I and the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

news / updates Cedar Works II


In Richmond, Virginia, the initial demolition of Rocketts Landing Village’s Cedar Works II former warehouse is now underway. Though originally planned as a residential structure, the three-story, 39,000 square foot building will now house office space. The building features exposed brick and masonry and the timber frame of the original warehouse. Cedar Works II will share a 128-space parking structure with the mixed-use 210 Rock building adjacent.

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news / updates Walker Nature Education Center

Herndon Element Hotel

Design is nearly complete for the new Walker Nature Education Center, a three-story, 5,000 square foot environmental education facility located in Reston, Virginia. CMSS is implementing minimal site disturbance, rain barrels for water collection, recycled rubber slate roofing tiles, reclaimed wood flooring, SIP exterior wall and roof construction, erosion and sediment control, and a bio-retention area for storm water runoff to make the project more environmentally friendly.

The Element Hotel, a select service hotel in Herndon, Virginia, is still in its schematic design phase. CMSS is working to gain approval for the project from the Town of Herndon’s Heritage Preservation Review Board and the Town’s Planning Board. When approved, the firm will adapt the Element Hotel prototype for a historic, urban context. The five-story, mixed-use project will include 163 rooms, 12,300 square feet of retail space, and 200 underground parking spaces.

news / updates The Belmont at City Center

The tallest building designed for the Rocketts Landing development so far, the new, 13-story, mixed-use East Bank Tower will soon overlook Richmond, Virginia’s downtown district. The tower will house first-floor retail, second-floor office space, and eleven floors containing 87 residential units; the top three floors will be luxury penthouses. East Bank Tower is clad in tri-color brick and features a mix of traditional and international styles.

The Belmont is located in the urban setting of the City Center at Oyster Point in Newport News, Virginia. About to go before the design review, The Belmont includes 238 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. The main elevation fronting Canon Boulevard has been designed with great attention to detail; the bricks will be varying shades of red to provide interest, and the doorways will be bordered by rustication and quoins. The Belmont will also include administration space, a meeting room, a fitness area, and a combination of open and covered parking behind the building.


East Bank Tower

Future Mixed-Use Complex – Rocketts Landing Village, Richmond, Virginia

Designing the future of Virginia.

3rd Space Issue 1  

Client magazine published by CMSS Architects, PC.