Aura 509


Trinsic Residential


Architecture, Landscape Architecture

Project Size

175 units

Project Completion


Construction Type

Type III over Type IA


Crafting Urban Enchantment.

Durham, NC

Aura 509, perched in its tight lot with a full story of grade change from front to back, masterfully adapts to its unique setting by tying seamlessly into the alleyway behind it. It is not just a structure; it’s a harmonious blend of history and contemporary vibrancy, a reinterpretation of the city’s architectural legacy.

Boldy breaking tradition.

The building sets itself apart with its innovative use of lap siding on the exterior, boldly stepping away from the traditional red brick that is a hallmark of Durham’s historic buildings. This choice isn’t merely a visual statement; it’s a deliberate alignment with contemporary design trends, elevating Aura 509’s aesthetic appeal.

A delicate dance in Durham.

The design approach for Aura 509 was a delicate dance, seeking the perfect balance between echoing Durham’s historic warehouse brick buildings and expressing the city’s eclectic, contemporary culture. Every design decision nudged the needle back and forth along this continuum of tradition and modernity. To depart from the literal feel of historic warehouses, the designers made a bold choice: they eschewed the traditional red brick for the main facade, opting instead for lap siding. This material, hailed for its simplicity and efficiency, was a nod towards modern design principles.

Honoring history with a modern twist.

In a subtle homage to Durham’s industrial heritage, Aura 509 features a repetitive punch opening elevation. This was achieved by using the same window in a rhythmic composition, creating a façade that is both uniform and intriguing. The building’s contemporary and vibrant personality shines through in three distinctive moves. Each window is framed with a bright orange metal shroud, add a burst of energy and character, making the building stand out in its urban canvas. The main entry portal is designed to alter the scale and proportions during the entry sequence, offering a dramatic transition from the bustling city outside to the calm interior. And the striking feature is the perforated, geometrically faceted mesh covering the stairs facing Mangum Street, adding an artistic flair to the structure.

Challenging the grade.

From a programmatic perspective, the challenge was substantial. The aim was to fit two unconnected parking levels and an activated ground level, all while complying with the city’s UDO requirements. The result is a building that not only meets these functional needs but does so with an aesthetic grace that enriches Durham’s architectural landscape.

The first-floor apartments are unique, spacious, and have an edgy feel from the exposed columns. We were able to design the units in a way that not only reiterates the overall design concept but also gives the tenant a refined space to call home.

Libby Pelzel


In essence, Aura 509 stands as a testament to thoughtful, innovative design. It’s a simple form that connects to Durham’s historic buildings yet boldly declares its modern identity. Its repetitive punch openings mimic the efficiency of industrial structures, while its vibrant elements bring a fresh, contemporary energy. Aura 509 is more than a building; it’s a dynamic dialogue between past and present, a reflection of Durham’s evolving story.