Town and Village

Bellows Falls Garage project receives award for architectural design

Windham & Windsor Housing Trust's Bellows Falls Garage project has received a Citation Award as part of the American Institute of Architects, Vermont Chapter (AIAVT) 2023 Design Awards.

The award was presented to Montpelier-based Gossens Bachman Architects (gbArchitecture), WWHT's design partner on the redevelopment project, in the category of Commercial/Institutional/Multi-Family/Mixed Use, at the AIAVT annual meeting this month.

The Awards program celebrates outstanding architectural design in Vermont and around the world, and the Citation Award represents exemplary achievement in a specific aspect of a project. Winning designs demonstrate exceptional skill and creativity in the resolution of formal, functional, and technical requirements, and address issues including ecological stewardship and social responsibility.

"The design truly aligned with our vision to transform a blighted but historic property into an important and sustainable community resource. We want to congratulate our partners, Gossens Bachman Architects, as well as DEW Construction, for their exceptional work in realizing this vision for us," WWHT Executive Director Elizabeth Bridgewater said in a news release.

The Bellows Falls Garage project, completed in the spring of 2023, was originally conceived by WWHT as the adaptive reuse of a historic industrial building to create much needed affordable housing, as well as commercial space.

When the initial effort to save the existing concrete structure was realized to be cost prohibitive, a new plan was made to rebuild the Bellows Falls Garage and reuse some of the original components, including concrete slabs, footings, and utility connections.

The new, highly energy-efficient building contains 27 affordable housing units in downtown Bellows Falls. Views of the Connecticut River, the mountains beyond, and the surrounding downtown and ample daylight are some of the building's greatest assets.

A solar energy system generates about 20% of the building's total energy use and is part of a comprehensive system of energy efficiency measures employed within the building. Other sustainability features include a high-performance building envelope, brownfield remediation, and an EV charging station.

The award jury said it appreciated the project's artful resurrection of this historic building and applauded all this project was able to accomplish in remediating and recapitalizing the site - primarily the project's success in making this building a community asset once again.

Specifically, the jury appreciated the level of community involvement that was implemented during the programming phase. The jury also applauded the architects with prioritizing the view corridor of the building and noted that the plan does a beautiful job of ensuring that every unit is enhanced by the effects of blue space, being right on the water. Overall, the jury felt that this was an exceptionally strong project in all aspects.

The 2023 AIAVT Design Award winners were selected by a jury made up of members of AIA Grand Rapids. A full list of the AIAVT award recipients can be found at

This Town and Village item was submitted to The Commons.

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