Up in the Air

Artists’ housing in downtown Phoenix might (literally) elevate the Airstream

Architecture Development News West
Shepley Bulfinch and True North Studio are proposing affordable artists' housing on a 15-foot-wide sliver of land between an existing parking garage and the street. (Courtesy True North Studio)
Shepley Bulfinch and True North Studio are proposing affordable artists' housing on a 15-foot-wide sliver of land between an existing parking garage and the street. (Courtesy True North Studio)

Public design review on the project has yet to start, but it looks like downtown Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row could be getting bohemian-style artists housing courtesy of national firm Shepley Bulfinch.

By suspending chrome Airstream trailers within a diamond-shaped scaffolding, developer True North Studio, artist Wayne Rainey, and Shepley Bulfinch hope that the four-story Roosevelt Land Yacht Club will supply up to 30 units of affordable housing for local artists. Rather than acting as a standalone building, the project presents a novel type of urban infill; the Roosevelt Land Yacht Club will wrap around the exterior of an existing corner parking garage and fill in the 15-foot gap between the building and the sidewalk.

Each trailer—the Airstreams may have to be replaced with a less iconic model—will feature about 350 square feet of living space. The multilevel steel matrix will be constantly painted over by the artists to create a structure that’s half living space, half piece of art. The diamond motif and airy framing reference both rolling desert dunes as well as the sense of freedom brought on by the open road.

Rendering of scaffolding around a parking garage

The scaffolding infrastructure will be painted by the artists within and change over time. (Courtesy True North Studio)

Of course, this is all speculative at the moment. True North Studio expects that the design review and permitting process with the city of Phoenix will take approximately six months, and hopes to break ground in 2020. While no rent information has been released yet, making it unclear how affordable the spaces will be, the scheme could still create a new precedent for infill housing if it moves ahead.

The Roosevelt Land Yacht Club is part of the much larger, multi-building mixed-use renovation titled Ro2. True North Studio is handling the entire project after being selected through a request for proposal issued by the city of Phoenix, but, as the Phoenix New Times noted, it was also the only developer to submit a proposal.

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