Credit: Daniel Snyder

When three architectural firms needed new offices for their respective practices, they joined forces to find an old building in an urban setting. A defunct Midas muffler shop with north-facing doors on a busy road in Tucson, Ariz., offered great potential and an attractive “opportunity to revitalize a decaying street,” says Paul Weiner, principal of DesignBuild Collaborative (DBC), one of the firms involved in the project.

DBC collaborated with David E. Shambach, Architects and Lanning Architecture on the structure's overall design. They opted to keep the aluminum façade but used a four-part paint system to create the look of Cor-Ten steel. They then allocated the four bays based on need, stipulating that each firm would build out its own suite.

Credit: Daniel Snyder

DBC took the two center bays but metered each space separately for possible future leasing. A slim budget forced the design team to get creative, so materials were reused wherever possible. They repaired the floors with self-leveling concrete, laid carpet to quiet the space, and speced fir plywood and fir veneer-covered MDF millwork. Judicious choices also included steel, concrete block, cork floors (in the kitchen and bath), and paper-based countertops.

DBC designed and built its space for a satisfying $38 per square foot. But all three firms received another type of gratification: the project, Weiner says, “did a lot for the area and revived the street.”