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March 29, 2019

Winter Holben receives 2018 AIANH Excellence in Design Merit Award for contemporary adaptive reuse concept in Portsmouth NH

Winter Holben recently received a 2019 Merit Award for their Islington Street Remix Design at the 35th Annual AIANH Excellence in Design Awards. The multidisciplinary firm has taken awards home each year since their opening and continues to be recognized for their contemporary adaptive reuse designs in New Hampshire and the Seacoast Region. 

The unbuilt project was a redesign of an abandoned gas station in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  There has been a significant decline in operating gas stations across the United States over the last decade, some reports state as much as 25%.  Between the increase of electric cars on the road, environmental regulations that have increased the cost of running a station, and the property values of some of these once well-visited spaces, redesigning gas stations is a rising trend.  Winter Holben was well-suited for this work, having vast experience in commercial adaptive-reuse projects in the area, as well as a vested interest in developing the communities in the Seacoast Region where their office is located.  The Winter Holben team is known for their ability to reimagine spaces to both respect and add appropriate contrast to adjacent historic properties while adding high quality design and building technology features that supports the long term growth of communities.  This project specifically supported the overarching goals of the Islington Street Corridor Action Plan by improving the corridor image, calming traffic, creating a gateway with community space, and enhancing the creative economy in the neighborhood.

With so much of the West End of Portsmouth in the middle of redevelopment, the abandoned Islington Street station was both uninviting and unsafe. When a well-loved local eatery (Lexie’s) expressed interest in the site for expansion of their services and a change in location, they enlisted Winter Holben for the work.  The vision was to transform the space not only for the restaurant itself, but additionally to create a community gathering space, much-needed in this section of town.  The deconstruction of the canopy was first – bringing natural light into the landscape, creating an attractive area for outdoor seating.  Adding natural wood plank siding to compliment the dark metal of the canopy as well as the translucent, removable glass panels gave the entire space an updated, contemporary feel.  The final touches of the surrounding greenery transitioned the entire space from uninviting to warm and appealing, and the jurors from the AIA NH Awards agreed, noting the deconstructed canopy, opportunity for signage and spaces the team created were all incredibly well done.

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