September 16, 2019

Pete Spittler on the Appeal of Mixed-Use Neighborhoods

Pete Spittler

Pete Spittler

According to Pete Spittler, mixed-use neighborhoods are trending upward in urban living now. Recently, architect and real estate developer Pete Spittler answered a few questions about this phenomenon.

Q: What’swas the goal of your Flats East Bank Project?

Pete Spittler: We wanted to create a lifestyle for people who wish to live in an urban setting but still have access to the sense of community that comes with living in a neighborhood.

Q: How do you go about accomplishing that?

Pete Spittler: The most important thing, we decided, was to build it in a part of the city where people want to be. This development definitely fit that requirement.

Q: How did you approach the project visually?

Pete Spittler: By positioning the buildings in an area near the Warehouse District, we were able to take advantage of the waterfront entrance as well as the city’s bridges and industrial artifacts.

Q: Why do you think people want to live in these types of neighborhoods?

Pete Spittler: People have a real sense of wanting to belong somewhere. They also like the convenience and historical significance of living in a city. Flats East Bank Project combines those perks.

Q: What were your inspirations with this project?

Pete Spittler: We looked at famous neighborhoods, including the French Quarter in New Orleans and the Georgetown neighbor in Washington D.C., as well as local neighborhoods such as Little Italy, Coventry and Shaker Square and then we applied the best elements we found.

Q: How does retail play a role in the development of the neighborhood?

Pete Spittler: Having retail space is huge. Shops and restaurants get people out and about, it gets them walking around, meeting their neighbors, and investing in the community.

Q: Are mixed-use neighborhoods the future of urban development?

Pete Spittler: I definitely think so. There’s a huge appeal to living in an area that’s self sustaining for work, living, and play.

Q: How important is culture in these neighborhoods?

Pete Spittler: Culture is absolutely a driving force. We make an effort to support the local arts and gallery scene in Flats East Bank Project, and we want local artists to feel comfortable displaying their work here.

Q: Who are the most common residents in these neighborhoods?

Pete Spittler: These types of neighborhoods typically cater to young professionals and empty nester urban dwellers who know exactly what they want out of a living space and appreciate the perks of the urban life.

Pete Spittler has an extensive background in architecture and development, and he was a senior project manager at Figgie International, where he oversaw real estate development. Pete Spittler is the president and founder of GSI Architects. Pete Spittler also coordinated the privatization of a $200 million hydroelectric program in Brazil.

Peter F. Spittler on Energy Conservation

Peter F. Spittler

Peter F. Spittler

We recently spoke with Peter F. Spittler, of Forum Architects. Peter F. Spittler is a renowned designer and architect with extensive experience in green-building and energy conservation practices.

Q: Peter F. Spittler, are energy conservation practices all high-tech?

Peter F. Spittler: Not necessarily. Common-sense, old-world ideas like skylights that refract and multiply daylight, shade trees to protect buildings during the hottest part of the day, or situating buildings to take advantage of prevailing winds are all common. Somewhere along the way planners, architects and engineers forgot about these simple and practicable design approaches.

Q: What are some other ideas that come into play?

Peter F. Spittler: Sometimes little things like low-water or waterless urinals, landscaping that doesn’t require much water, or even installing reflective white roofing can make a huge difference over time.

Q: What is LEED?

Peter F. Spittler: LEED stands for Leading Energy and Environmental Design.

Q: What does Leading Energy and Environmental Design do?

Peter F. Spittler: LEED is an outside third-party, market-driven system to provide guidelines for energy efficiency. LEED gives their certification for building projects that meet their marks.

Q: Isn’t LEED compliance expensive?

Peter F. Spittler: That’s a sort of misconception. Some LEED-compliant refits can be cost-prohibitive, but buildings can still meet LEED benchmarks without too much cost on the front end. What people need to remember is that an energy-efficient building plan will more than pay for itself when energy savings are realized over time. There was a time when it was expensive to go Green, but the product manufacturers have caught up with the Green movement and today products and system are readily available and reasonably priced.

Q: Does LEED compliance come with incentives?

Peter F. Spittler: Yes, it does. Federal perks are available to encourage LEED compliance and energy efficiency; many state and local governments also offer incentives.

Q: Is LEED design only for new construction?

Peter F. Spittler: Not at all, we’ve been able to refit many older buildings for energy efficiency and LED compliance. Sometimes we find that older buildings incorporated great ideas from 75 years ago or longer, which were later discarded or covered over for appearance’s sake. Even things like a tall ceiling can make a big difference in the cooling and HVAC scheme of a building, but dropped ceilings were the prevailing style from the 1950s on. Also, air conditioning and climate control systems took the place of gravitational and cross ventilation and now the pendulum is swinging back the other way towards operable windows and other simple solutions.

Peter F. Spittler is an alumnus of Kent State University’s architecture program. In addition to his membership with the American Institute of Architects, Peter F. Spittler is a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.