Remember Hurricane Ivan? Most have probably forgotten how this Category 3 hurricane pummeled the Southeast in September 2004.

David Alan Richbourg remembers those dark days well. The Pensacola, Florida, native had carved a nice life for himself as a low-rise condo owner and developer on nearby Perdido Key. Then, with ruthless efficiency, Hurricane Ivan closed that chapter of his life.

“Most of what we built was destroyed,” Richbourg says.

So don’t blame the multifamily developer for taking a resilient approach to his latest development, The Village at Wright St. Correction … make that a super resilient approach.

“It’s time to stop running from storms,” Richbourg asserts. “For this project I thought, ‘There are people in Pensacola that want superior construction.' Why not offer it?”

The Village at Wright St. is a 10-unit, three-bedroom luxury townhouse community built using ICF (insulated concrete forms). ICF construction is simple: Stack foam-framed blocks Lego-like to create cast-in-place concrete walls. It’s a highly evolved construction technique used in many applications. ICF walls can withstand wind speeds up to 300 mph and will not weaken, warp, twist, smoke, or burn regardless of fire temperature. “The Village is all about protection,” says Richbourg.

It’s also arguably without precedent in Pensacola for amenities, style, and value. For example:

  • Value. There was a time when stick-built framing was more affordable. With today’s lumber prices, that advantage may be over for the foreseeable future.
  • Energy Use. The exterior walls of The Village are 6 inches of rebar-reinforced concrete, with common walls 8 inches thick without penetrations. That mass sharply reduces HVAC system requirements. The local utility estimates Village residents won’t pay more than $50 a month on gas and electric.
  • Property Insurance. This is a particularly interesting distinction, since it applies actuarial science to ICF hazard risk. “We’re talking less than a thousand dollars a year on property insurance for a million-dollar townhouse,” reports Richbourg, an especially deep discount given the region’s disaster claims experience.
  • Maintenance. “There’s virtually nothing to paint because there’s hardly any exterior wood. Power wash the exterior once a year, and you’re good to go,” he advises.
  • Building Code. “We had no trouble with permitting,” Richbourg says. In fact, he says he believes The Village represents the first time the city waived the usual double wall requirement for a multifamily dwelling in favor of a single 8-inch concrete common wall. “City officials understood the value right away.”
  • Acoustics. ICF structures are nearly soundproof, with a typical 55+ STC rating. Richbourg says, “A rock band could be practicing next door, and you wouldn’t know it.”
  • Style. The Village tosses aside any question of ICF’s limited aesthetic appeal. Architectural elements evoke a sophisticated Spanish influence with a modern theme. Key to that aesthetic are rooftop terraces equipped with a refrigerator and wet bar.

The Village remains a template for best practice in resilient and universal design. Those features include individual elevators, an all-home emergency power generator, an electric car-charging station, impact-resistant glass, and a roof rated for 185 mph winds.

What does Richbourg do for an encore? It’s already designed: a larger, more ambitious townhouse project using ICF.

Learn more about how ICF can transform your next project with resilience, quality, and style.