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.