Pete Spittler and the team at his design firms, GSI Architect, Forum Architects and Forum Architectural Services created Flats East Bank Project, a mixed-use community in downtown Cleveland. We sat down to ask Pete Spittler what makes this community unique and where its design influences came from.
Gathering of Experts: How did you get chosen to help design the Flats East Bank Project?
Pete Spittler:GSI Architects, Inc., was actually chosen through a design competition. We presented a total of five mockups that met the established goals for the neighborhood.
Gathering of Experts: How did those mockups turn into the finalized plan for the buildings?
Pete Spittler:We merged strongest elements from several design solutions to create the final product.
Gathering of Experts: What principles were those mockups based on?
Pete Spittler:The elements we wanted to work with included a strong urban design, a proven commercial design, a varied architectural flair, and a developer’s intuition for how the project can come to fruition.
Gathering of Experts:Does combining all of those elements help the process?
Pete Spittler:It does. When you bring in multiple elements into the design process, you’re forced to make tough decisions that ultimately make a positive impact.
Gathering of Experts: How does it feel to create a new community from the ground up?
Pete Spittler:It’s a rare experience that architects like me cherish, because you really get to leave your mark on the city. Building a community like this is like putting your signature on an entire city.
Gathering of Experts: How does this project differ from other community planning projects?
Pete Spittler:Many mixed-use communities are built in preexisting areas, whereas Flats East Bank became a clean slate as a result of it being a brownfield remediation site.
Gathering of Experts: What was your inspiration for the visual design of the buildings?
Pete Spittler:We really wanted to incorporate the visual style of the nearby Warehouse District. We wanted the buildings to look iconic and historic, but also visually striking and modern.
Gathering of Experts: How was the overall community aspect taken into account of the design?
Pete Spittler:We created a system of streets, alleys, and passageways to promote foot traffic and pedestrian scaled blocks that encourage a sense of community and a tight-knit feel for the residents.
Gathering of Experts: Did you sample any local neighborhoods for design inspiration?
Pete Spittler:We did! We took a look at some of Cleveland’s iconic neighborhoods, including Little Italy, Shaker Square, and Coventry.
Gathering of Experts: How many residential units are available?
Pete Spittler:There are 245 residential units for rent, and there will be luxury condos that range in size from 1,500 to 2,800 square feet.
Gathering of Experts: What is the ultimate goal of this project?
Pete Spittler: We want to promote it as a destination for young professionals to live, work, eat, and play. We also want it to open up the waterfront area and serve as a gateway to the city.
Pete Spittler is a graduate of the architecture program at Kent State University. He has had a varied professional career, and much of his life has been spent in the fields of real estate, architecture, and urban development. Pete Spittler is the president and founder of GSI Architects, Inc.