Solis Brightleaf


Terwilliger Pappas


Architecture, Interiors, Landscape Architecture, Planning

Project Size

194 units

Completion Date


Construction Type

Type III-A over podium


Grit Drives Authentic Aesthetic.

Durham, NC

Solis Brightleaf Apartments, nestled within the historic Brightleaf Square in Durham, showcases a design that seamlessly integrates with its surroundings while exuding an authentic aesthetic. The project embraces the area’s “heavy” existing buildings and harmonizes with them through carefully selected design elements.

Genuine design & artistic charm.

Exposed concrete and natural wood accent siding create a sense of authenticity, evoking the spirit of the neighborhood. To add depth and visual interest, the Main Street façade of Solis Brightleaf Apartments features a unique design approach. “Punched” windows, created by over-framing the exterior walls, create a striking visual effect that draws the eye and adds a touch of architectural intrigue. This design element enhances the authenticity while ensuring the building stands out as a unique and captivating addition to Brightleaf Square.

Vibrant visibility.

One of the critical considerations in the design process was the activation of residential amenities. The second-floor amenity space was strategically positioned to be visible from the bustling Main Street. This deliberate placement entices passersby and potential residents, showcasing the vibrant and welcoming atmosphere that awaits within the apartments.

Community roots & artistic flair.

Solis Brightleaf Apartments actively engaged with the local community, fostering a sense of connection and pride. Local artisans were involved in creating interior furnishings and art, infusing the development with the unique talents and craftsmanship of the area. The exterior yellow accent color pays homage to Durham’s storied history. Roll-up doors in the club space invite the energy of the street, blurring the boundary between the building and its vibrant surroundings. Custom murals by local Durham artists and vintage art and memorabilia in the residential corridors celebrate the heritage of Brightleaf Square, creating a dynamic and visually captivating living environment.

Reclaimed & repurposed.

Sustainability and environmental consciousness were at the forefront of the design philosophy. The project successfully achieved NGBS Bronze certification, a testament to its commitment to sustainable practices. Further, the interior furnishings include repurposed elements with a rich history. Reclaimed tobacco warehouse shutters, aged over a century, were transformed into exquisite interior pieces. Machinery elements were artfully repurposed into sculptural benches, art pieces, and table bases, promoting resource conservation and adding a unique touch to the living spaces.

Functional solutions.

Overcoming site-specific challenges was integral to the success of the project. The presence of contaminated soil, designating the site as a brownfield, required diligent mitigation measures to ensure the safety and well-being of future residents. Proximity to the adjacent railroad necessitated thoughtful sound abatement strategies to provide a tranquil living environment. Furthermore, the rear street access to the site, initially owned by the railroad, presented a challenge requiring the owner to secure permission from the City of Durham. Addressing fire safety concerns, innovative materials were utilized, serving a dual purpose as both fire access pathways and a dog park, maximizing functionality and design.