FORT WORTH A young Fort Worth architecture firm is about to put its design mark on the city.
Soon, Matthijs and Jie Melchiors, partners and founders of MEL/ARCH studio, will start construction on a three-story office building near Evans and Rosedale avenues made entirely of shipping containers. In all, 40 containers of various colors will be used. It’s expected to be completed in October.
Called Connex, the office park at 1201 Evans Ave., just east of Interstate 35W, will target the micro office user, or those small businesses wanting to share space, Matthijs Melchiors said. Connex is derived from the dictionary term “conex,” referring to shipping containers, he said.
MEL/ARCH is now a part of Idea Works FW, an incubator program for business startups. It’s located in the Guinn Complex on Rosedale, on the west side of I-35W. MEL/ARCH will soon finish the two-year program and decided to do the development. It will occupy some units on the top floor of the new building.
In all, the building will have space for 30 businesses. There will also be a break room, restrooms and common areas.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest,” Matthijs Melchiors said.
Ten of the shipping containers are already at the site and another 20 will arrive in May, he said. The remaining containers arrive in either June or July. The containers are coming from China and were purchased new. But they didn’t come empty on their way to the U.S. Known as one-trippers, items were shipped in them, Matthijs Melchiors said.
The building will be 15,000 square feet, with each office about 160 square feet. The containers are 8 feet by 20 feet, but they are 12 inches taller than the typical container size. Matthijs Melchiors said he and his firm did a lot of research into the psychological aspects of working in smaller spaces when they designed the building.
The offices are ideal for one person, but two to three people can fit fine, depending on configuration, he said.
The building will have solar panels on the roof and tree sculptures on an outdoor deck that are really wind turbines that will generate supplemental power to the building.
“The whole idea is to be sustainable and as green as possible,” he said.
But it won’t be cheap. Matthijs Melchiors said there’s a misconception that building with shipping containers is less expensive than using traditional building methods. It’s actually more expensive to incorporate building systems such as air conditioning, he said.
For months, the Melchiors saw a For Sale sign on the lot across the highway from the firm’s location at Idea Works FW and decided it would be a good location for the development. The Melchiors are negotiating to buy an adjacent lot where they’ll eventually build their own architecture studio as they continue to expand, he said.
The Melchiors created a website for the office park and will post videos of construction, which will start on Thursday.