Recreating Jacksonville: The Urban Facelift Project

May 8, 2009 45 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Urban Facelift project, by the Content Design Group, showcases the potential of under-appreciated and often neglected buildings in Jacksonville. Several sketches are now available for the public to see.

Urban Facelift Project from Content Design Group:

As with many of our peers here in Jacksonville, we see things in our city that we do not agree with.  Obviously, we tend to focus on things in the areas of development and design.  One of the items that we found ourselves verbally discussing is our likes and dislikes about modern development in the urban neighborhoods of Jacksonville.  We’ve come to realize that it is very easy to be critical of our city yet do nothing to promote any kind of change.

The idea for "The Urban Facelift Project" came from putting our proverbial money where our mouth is. However, we are not at a point where we can buy numerous buildings and give them facelifts and physically change their appearance, but we can use our talents to show the community, as well as property owners, what a little paint, landscape, and awnings can do for a building. 
We set out to photograph any buildings that we see any glimpse of potential in, i.e. good “bones”.  The rules and guidelines that we have set for ourselves are that we cannot change adjacent buildings to the project, unless we are doing them all under one facelift, and that we cannot alter any city property, including street lights, which we would love to change, and sidewalks. 

We also limit our time, major reason being that we are not profiting from these renderings or designs.  This is down and dirty speed design.  We take the photo, discuss the potential we think the building has, head back to the office and sketch out some ideas, quickly model the existing structure, and then spend about two to three hours trying to make it look like something.  This process usually takes about 4-5 hours.  So far we have three entries with the fourth entry being a 12 foot wide infill next to a previous entry. 
Our local long-term vision for the project is to get the community involved.  We would love to see Jacksonville residents choose a building and do their own facelift, not just architects and designers, but anyone with a desire to be a part of the project.  If the project meets our criteria, essentially the two small rules we set above and in the digital format of our facelifts, we will post it to our blog.  Obviously, we’d like to see some of the owners realize the potential of their investments, and the potential gain of incorporating some of the ideas shown in the facelift for their building.  After all, the revisions to the exterior that we are providing are usually cost effective ways to drastically change the structure’s, and therefore the immediate community’s aesthetics.
For the “global” long-term vision, it would be great if residents from other regions started submitting projects from their cities and communities.  It would be really interesting to see Urban Facelifts from all over the world.  For any suggested buildings and Urban Facelift Project submissions, we do ask that you not be owner of the property.  Projects can be viewed at At this point we’d really like to be able to post at least one new UFP ever two weeks, so be sure to visit our blog and hopefully you’d like to get involved somehow in the project, if only by your comments, positive or negative. 
The Urban Facelift Project #1:


This building at 53 Union Street is the one that literally started this series of studies.  It’s like a little jewel box that has been left out in the weather and just deteriorated over time.  With most of our designs we ask ourselves the following simple question, “Would you like to work or live there?” This cool little modern box needed some wood screening, planters, sun screen, paint, interesting signage, and a new storefront before the answer was “Absolutely.”

The Urban Facelift Project #2


It’s a disgrace that the Lerner Shop at 118 Main Street has been allowed to decay to the condition that it sits in today.  We decided to revert the storefront back to it’s original placement, added an awning, cleaned up some of the details, and added the bold color palette that incorporates the graphic address signage. 

New landscaping and a new wrought iron fence define the courtyard created by the void of the adjacent structures.  The revisions to this building, like most in the UFP, are kept simple, but hopefully offer dramatic differences.


The Urban Facelift Project #3


We have enough material along the Main Street corridor in Springfield alone to keep The Urban Facelift Project going for the next year.  Like most of the debilitated buildings along this thoroughfare, it just didn’t take much to get these buildings visually where they needed to be.  Paint, obviously goes a long way.

For this exercise we’ve imagined that the two separate building are owned by the same person. We tried to keep 1632 as classic looking as possible and conceived it as a café. We added a new awning and lights, signage, and niches for the potted trees, while again, cleaning up the storefront system.
We thought that there was potential for 1636 to become an art studio, and obviously our leanings towards modern design show through a little more on this one.  We’ve gone with a dark grey color scheme, offset with bold orange signage.  For landscaping we’ve added a vegetation screen to the north wall and a low brick planter and wall defining the entry to the studio, and separating it from the café entrance.


The Urban Facelift Project #4

We decided to revisit the courtyard space at 118 Main Street for this installment.  Thin, deep voids created by adjacent buildings have always intrigued us.  Here we show a modern four story residence slid into the 12’ wide space.  The second floor cantilevers over the entry providing protection as one enters.  The rooftop of the adjacent Lerner Shop can also be re-appropriated as a rooftop terrace for the residence.


About Content Design Group
Content Design Group was started in 2004 as a multi-disciplined design/build firm. Our company has a combined 37 years of knowledge in the industry. We conduct master planning with the mindset of a real estate developer, with the creative insight of a designer, and the jobsite know how of a contractor.

Our goal is to increase the flow of solutions, reduce costly inefficiencies and improve the value delivered to our clients. Content Design Group honors historical significance and works to integrate projects into their developments and communities. When we translate a design additional consideration is given to construction practices, ecological features, environmental sustainability, energy efficiency, feasibility, and budget.

For More Information:

Article by Jason Fisher