Search results for "multi-family residential"
Small Lot, Big Deal
L.A.-based Heyday Partnership bets on a new form of Angeleno housing
Heyday Partnership’s offices are located in a 1908 mercantile structure in Los Angeles’s Arts District that doubles as the storefront for the fictitious Paddy’s Pub in the television show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There, at the end of a long hallway tucked behind the recognizable building, brothers Kevin and Hardy Wronske spend their days designing homes in a post-industrial, daylit hangar filled with study models and custom-made furniture.
Their firm, founded in 2001, has quietly churned out projects across Los Angeles that exploit the city’s “small-lot subdivision” ordinance, a tweak to the zoning code made in 2005 allowing existing single family lots to be subdivided into smaller parcels, developed, and then sold off as traditional, freestanding homes. Small lot homes are helping to fill in L.A.’s “missing middle” housing by packing many residential units onto infill lots in some of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. The small lot arrangement, however, considered too timid by die-hard urbanists and a complete affront to neighborhood character by suburban-leaning luddites, has struggled with unpopularity among the media and general population since its inception. As a younger, open-minded cadre of thoughtful designers like Heyday begin to emphasize the architectural potential of this real estate model, will a new form of vernacular Angeleno housing take root?
Heyday’s business model is betting on it. It’s actually pretty simple: Kevin, a licensed architect trained at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and his team design the houses while Hardy, a graduate of University of Southern California Price’s Dollinger Master of Real Estate Development, acts as developer and manages the construction of each project. The brothers have a revolving fund set up that pumps money from recently completed projects into new endeavors, creating a closed loop of design, development, and construction.
Projects like the firm’s Auburn and Rennie homes, two recently completed developments, are typical of Heyday’s body of work in that they operate comfortably at the intersection of L.A.’s zoning code and high design, shaped alike by mundane setbacks and delineated by obviously modernist tropes. Further, these projects, sleek as they might appear, are actually totally by-the-book explorations of what is allowed by the zoning code and are expressly pursued by Heyday without requiring controversial spot-zoning or variances.
Rennie Venice, CA
Heyday’s Rennie is located in Venice, where ambient oceanside temperatures make outdoor living easier than in other inland parts of L.A. Heyday’s goal was to accomplish the added density without sacrificing the traditionally Californian indoor, outdoor living arrangement. “We wanted the house to feel like a typical home with pieces carved out to literally bring in the outside. The large balcony is wrapped in the exterior cladding with a large cutout that looks like it’d be a window opening but is actually just open air.” For these units, a giant glass door connects the living room to the sunken courtyard.Buzz Court Los Angeles, CA
Buzz Court, HeyDay’s 2012 six-home, four unique floor plan complex was the first small lot development to win an American Institute of Architects award. Each home, approximately 1,600 square feet with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, has LEED Platinum rating and features a six-turn interior-driving path linking the homes along the ground level. Kevin describes the project as being “rooted in figuring out how to have double loaded parking on a site only wide enough for single loaded parking. The solution was to rotate the garages so the backup space could overlap and then connect all the units with a serpentine driveway.” A secondary result of this arrangement is an increase in the number of exterior walls being available for day-lighting and ventilation so that units have windows on three sides instead of two, as would traditionally be the case on such a tight urban lot.
Auburn Los Angeles, CA
The firm’s most recently completed project, Auburn, is a six-home complex featuring three floor plan types, each with 1,650 square feet. Located up the street from Buzz Court, this project is on a through lot with entrances to the complex at either end of the long, narrow driveway connecting the patch of hillside. Kevin described the project, where he is a resident himself, as “a multi-family project wearing a single family facade. It is very L.A.—the city absolutely needs more housing and density but doesn’t want to admit to itself that the suburban dream has to evolve.” Units feature garage-level guest rooms and utilize Spanish tile accents to mark chamfered window surrounds along otherwise white stucco walls.
Everlee Los Angeles, CA
Everlee, currently under construction, utilizes a central, straight run driveway to fulfill parking requirements. Heyday organized seven units orthogonally on either side of the driveway, allowing buildings on the ends to shift in geometry as they meet the more steeply angled street-edge. Expected to be completed this fall, Everlee is intended to be a family-oriented development. “I recently read that Eagle Rock is where Silver Lake hipsters move to when they have babies. While it obviously isn’t that simple, these homes are in a good school district so they’re designed with families in mind,” said Hardy. Heyday designed closets and vaulted ceilings above bathrooms as “lofted nooks and crannies to use as storage space or fort building.” The units also all have patio areas, with several containing as much as 300 square feet of outdoor space to supplement the tight site’s lack of backyards.
- Regional averages: South (56.9), Midwest (50.1), Northeast (49.3), West (49.2)
- Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.2), institutional (50.7), mixed practice (50.5), commercial / industrial (50.3)
- Project inquiries index: 57.5
- Design contracts index: 51.8
- Regional averages: South (55.5), West (54.1), Northeast (51.8), Midwest (48.2)
- Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (57.9), institutional (52.7), mixed practice (51.0), commercial / industrial (50.3)
- Project inquiries index: 58.6
- Design contracts index: 49.7
After a positive response to a rough to the year, the U.S. Architectural Billings Index (ABI) has pressed on to reach its highest score in almost a year. Steered by an "active" multi-family housing market, billings have been supported by steady demand for commercial and retail properties.
The ABI, the leading economic indicator of construction activity, reflects a 9 to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index runs on a scale from 0-100 and scores above 50 suggest growth while anything below implies negativity in the market.
This May, the ABI hit a score of 53.1, up from 50.6 in April. Earlier this year however, the score was as low as 49.
“Business conditions at design firms have hovered around the break-even rate for the better part of this year,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD in a press release. “Demand levels are solid across the board for all project types at the moment. Of particular note, the recent surge in design activity for institutional projects could be a harbinger of a new round of growth in the broader construction industry in the months ahead.”
The scores in detail are as follows:
- Regional averages: West (53.8), South (53.7), Northeast (51.2), Midwest (49.9)
- Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (53.7), institutional (53.0), commercial / industrial (51.0), mixed practice (51.0),
- Project inquiries index: 60.1
- Design contracts index: 52.8
Safe! (for now)
Endangered Marcel Breuer building gets a reprieve
Petition Under Way
Virginia’s only Marcel Breuer building threatened with demolition
Morris Adjmi- and Onion Flats-designed Philadelphia development one step closer to realization
Shelter. Let’s start there. It’s a basic need. The root of architecture— Marc-Antoine Laugier’s enlightenment frontispiece offers up the primitive hut as reason over nature. A right, right? We’d like to think so. But globally and nationally, the simplest of human acts of shelter are elusive, politicized, and pushed to extremes. In architecture building types conventions split along economic lines: house versus housing. The former is a client-driven expression of taste, while the latter requires a systematic juggling of multiple units and services.
In looking for a theme to bring together Midwest and West for this issue, we found that the changing states of housing could not be ignored. Both regions share a long legacy of progressive residential design. Indeed, Frank Lloyd Wright’s office birthed the careers of Los Angeles experimenters R.M. Schindler and John Lautner, whose first gig in L.A. was for Wright, project managing a Usonian-style perched in the hills. Today the West Coast is facing a critical housing shortage and rising rents mean that shelter is increasingly precarious for residents in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Chicago, on the other hand, is dealing with a shrinking population, particularly in its low-income neighborhoods, as unemployment, crime, and foreclosure challenge community resilience.
With a loss of over 200,000 residents in the first ten years of the century, mostly from economically depressed neighborhoods, Chicago is now hoping to stop the flight from the city with an ambitious five-year “Bouncing Back” plan. Mixed-income and affordable housing are at the heart of the plan, which the city hopes will leverage some of Chicago’s existing assets. With a shrinking population, finding housing stock is rarely the issue. As such, the city is focusing a great deal of its planning and money on helping existing and potential property owners in an effort to stem the neglect and foreclosure of existing single and multi-family homes. Support for these units comes from a handful of programs, including state and federal tax credits and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) incentives. This plays well with Chicago’s aversion to dense affordable housing, as the city is only building limited large affordable developments.
Meanwhile, the fight between house and housing is heating up in Los Angeles. The proposed Neighborhood Integrity Initiative ballot measure drafted by the anti-development Coalition to Preserve LA pits homeowners against high-density projects. The CPLA’s sights are set on the luxury apartment towers planned for Hollywood. The group decries the “Manhattanization of Hollywood”, but the proposed two-year moratorium on projects that include General Plan amendments (often granted by city officials for greater FAR, more height, or reduced parking would also impact small and mid-size development, including much-needed affordable housing. The preservation mentioned that the organization’s name speaks not to the conservation of the city’s history, but instead maintains an Arcadian myth of a low-density urban fabric.
In early February, L.A. city and county officials approved a $100 million plus plan to address the current homelessness state of emergency—the county has the largest chronic homeless population in the country. In the near term, the plan will tackle services, but for architects it is the long-term agenda that is critical, with close to $2 billion allocated for housing over the next decade. This puts affordable housing as a design problem front and center.
In short, the West Coast doesn’t have enough housing (affordable and market rate), Chicago doesn’t have enough that is livable. The home truth is that while urbanism and infrastructure have long dominated discussions about the future of cities, it now seems that the domestic sphere will shape our understanding for the next couple decades. For designers, this inversion where private impacts public is clearly a challenge given politics, policy, and code, but it is also an important opportunity to express architectural agency.