27 Coltman Townhouses

Cleveland, like many American cities with an industrial past, has plenty of brownfield sites that are ripe for creative redevelopment. These 27 Townhouses, developed by Adobe Modern Lifestyle Developers and designed by DIMIT Architects, occupy a brownfield site east of downtown Cleveland, close to Case Western Reserve University. Cement board and wood laminate exteriors give the development a modern prominence from the adjacent train tracks. DIMIT Architects answered some questions about their design for the 27 Coltman Townhouses.
Townhouse exteriors ( Photo ©: Brad Feinknopf - Feinknopf Photography )
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?

This was our second project with forward-thinking developer Andrew Brickman of Abode Modern Lifestyle Developers.  We are currently developing our fifth successful project with Andrew, who has consistently raised the level of modern residential design awareness in the Cleveland metro area.
Townhouse exteriors ( Photo ©: Brad Feinknopf - Feinknopf Photography )
Can you describe your design process for the building?

27 Coltman townhouses was our second townhouse project with the Abode Modern Lifestyle Developers.  The first project was a residential renovation of an abandoned 1920’s era stone church in a more established traditional neighborhood, so that design naturally evolved with more traditional building language and details. But the 27 Coltman site is clearly a more industrial, urban edge site located between Cleveland’s Little Italy historic neighborhood, and a major east/west railway right of way.

Because of this boundary nature, we were able to conceive of the townhouse design as more of a modern residential buffer wall, providing wide open ‘modern loft style’ spaces that frame views of the traditional neighborhood residences to the east, and an equally interesting view of the passing trains and commuter trolley’s to the west.

The design for these residences needed to be cost effective, yet appealing to a more-forward thinking buyers searching for clean and uncluttered lifestyles, so we researched materials not typically used in residential construction- Cement board panels, and phenolic resin wood laminate panels used in rain-screen applications proved to be the answer.  In order to provide privacy and sun-shading, each townhouse façade is framed with a slat trellis visor that extends from the living level up to the master bedroom glass, and it is hoped that the residents eventually allow these trellises to be overgrown with ivy.

The top floor roof terraces are a popular feature and allow private outdoor living with great views of the entire neighborhood.  A green roof option is available for areas not covered with composite decking. 
Interior, kitchen/dining ( Photo ©: Brad Feinknopf - Feinknopf Photography )
How does the completed building compare to the project as designed? Were there any dramatic changes between the two and/or lessons learned during construction?

We are always amazed at the transformation of our designs and ideas as they move toward reality, and really love the process and discoveries that evolve with collaborations with our various trade contractors.  We think that the 27 Coltman project became even better during this process, which is a tribute to the developer and each member of the contracting team.
Interior, living room/deck ( Photo ©: Brad Feinknopf - Feinknopf Photography )
How does the building compare to other projects in your office, be it the same or other building types?

We loved working with the specific challenges presented by this site.  It afforded the opportunity to develop a mostly overlooked parking strip parcel into a rich and productive extension of the Little Italy neighborhood.  The framing of views from each townhouse is unique, and we love the contrast between the early 1900’s wood frame construction surrounding the townhouses and 27 Coltman’s more modern lines and features.
Site plan ( Drawing ©: Adam Parris/Dimit Architects )
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?

We believe that the material approach for the exterior cladding is quite contemporary.  In most cases our contractors had not worked with either the Nichiha cement board cladding, nor any sort of “rain-screen” installation, so they were at first hesitant about taking on the challenge.  However, once they worked with these cladding approaches, they found ways to install them efficiently and cleanly. We encourage sustainable practices on our construction sites, and provide options for sustainable and locally-resourced products throughout  the buyer’s selection process.
Exterior rendering ( Visualization ©: Javier Dominguez/Dimit Architects )
Are there any new/upcoming projects in your office that this building’s design and construction has influenced?

The 27 Coltman townhouse project has influenced, in no small way, all of our residential design projects since our involvement.  We have discovered that there is an appetite for more-modern residential living arrangements here, outside of the traditional apartment, townhouse, and single-family residence prototypes typically found in the Cleveland Metro Area, and we are currently developing three additional townhouse projects with the 27 Coltman developer including 11 River townhouses in Rocky River Ohio (a near west suburb of Cleveland) and Clifton Pointe townhouses, and Irish Cottages in Lakewood, Ohio.

Email interview conducted by John Hill.
27 Coltman Townhouses
Cleveland, OH

Abode Modern Lifestyle Developers - Andrew Brickman

DIMIT Architects, LLC
Cleveland, OH

Design Principals
Scott and Analia Nanni Dimit

Project Architect
Adam Parris

Project Team
Matt Sommer
Scott Csutora
Jason Holtzman

Structural Engineer
Isaac Lewin Associates

MEP/FP Engineer
Austrian Associates Engineers

Landscape Architect
Brooke Slater

Lighting Designer
Dimit Architects


Construction Manager
Nate Barrett

Brownfield Site Remediation Developer

Cement Board Cladding

Wood Laminate Rain Screen Cladding
Abet Laminatti

Composite Deck Planking

Residential Windows

Site Area
1.25 acres - reclaimed urban brownfield site

Building Area
1,700-3,600 sf per 27 residences