SoNo Revitalization

Bruce Beinfield located his architecture studio in the boarded-up Roodner building and found a hand-woven rug maker, a graphic designer, and a fabric designer to join him, sparking creative life into this blighted urban community. The project was one of the first recipients of the City of Norwalk’s Facade Improvement Grant program. Beinfield was subsequently the architect for the majority of the 20 projects funded, making significant strides toward mending the city’s fragmented streetscape.

Beinfield was instrumental in bringing in a multiplex cinema to the neighborhood, and soon after, he designed the Barcelona Wine Bar. This was the first of five new restaurants he created to entice moviegoers onto the street, transforming the area from a place to be feared and avoided into a major night-life destination. Other significant projects included the award-winning South Norwalk Railroad Station, which improved commuters’ experiences and perceptions of the city, and the conversion of the former City Hall into the Norwalk Museum.

The adaptive reuse of the Lock Factory was another key element in the genesis of SoNo. One of many old factory buildings populating the neighborhood, it was saved from demolition and transformed into a state-of-the-art office building while preserving its industrial charm. Before ‘green’ became a corporate watchword, Beinfield recycled the sprawling, derelict facility and created a brand-new office market in the community.

Starting in 2001, Beinfield tackled the Reed-Putnam Redevelopment District, designing several major mixed-use projects that maintain a dialogue with the neighborhood’s historic mill buildings. These include SoNo Lofts, Loft 5, the Maritime Garage and Maritime Yards. The last of which is a group of residential and retail buildings in the abandoned rail yards along the Norwalk River. Completing this redevelopment is District 95/7, a 1.2 million square foot, mixed-use project for which Beinfield is designing the Market centerpiece. Continuing to shape SoNo, Beinfield is currently preparing plans for the adaptive reuse of the historic Norwalk Company, an infill boutique hotel, and a major addition to Stepping Stones Museum for Children that will achieve Gold LEED certification.

As SoNo has thrived, Beinfield has received over 80 design and community awards for his revitalization efforts, including a Special Achievement Award for Architectural Excellence from the American Institute of Architects. His efforts have resulted in his design of over 300,000 square feet of previously abandoned space, refitted for a variety of uses, and the design of 500 residential units ranging from affordable housing to luxury condominiums. He has completed over 150 architectural projects and planning studies in SoNo for over 40 different clients.

Beinfield’s architecture builds upon the simplicity of New England vernacular while remaining modern and innovative. His instinctive and incremental approach to place-making has transformed SoNo into one of the most exciting and attractive neighborhoods in the region. His ability to see possibilities where others do not allows him to take the steps necessary to make his vision reality. He views his projects in SoNo as building blocks, ultimately transformational in nature, creating a model example of the power of design.