Search results for "multi-family residential"

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Core Strength

Stacking boxes in downtown Toronto
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  Sharing a downtown Toronto city block with the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Ontario College of Art and Design, 12 Degrees is a mid-rise urban infill project that employs a plan rotation strategy to produce a “stacked box” massing effect. The 90-unit, 11-story condo building fits tightly into a compact urban infill lot that measures just over 100 by 100 feet. The tower’s base interfaces with the nearby Victorian homes characteristic of historic Grange Park—a residential neighborhood consisting of housing stock ranging from semi-detached townhouses to mansions constructed in the 1800s. Set at three stories tall to match neighboring historic masonry homes, the ledgerock-clad base of the tower features a repetitive set of two-story tall projecting bays clad in black zinc. Beyond the base of the tower, the upper stories are composed of three sets of offset plans, including a rotated glass-clad mid-section. All of the upper floors are clad in a unitized dark gray aluminum window wall system with prefinished aluminum soffit panels. One of the benefits of the system, which can be installed in buildings up to 50 stories high, is that the glass panels can be installed from the interior. Outdoor terraces are located opportunistically in areas where a plan has shifted or rotated. These exterior spaces are contained by glass guardrails with a panelization that—from below—is camouflaged into the composition of the elevation.
  • Facade Manufacturer Primeline Windows and Doors
  • Architects CORE Architects
  • Facade Installer Primeline Windows and Doors
  • Facade Consultants SPL Consultants Limited
  • Location Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System reinforced concrete
  • Products Unitized dark grey aluminum window wall prefinished aluminum soffit panels.  ‘Manganese Ironspot’ Brick w/ black precast coping.  ‘Wiarton Black’ Limestone, ‘Anthrazic’ zinc panels.  ‘Ipe’ wood canopy, entry/TH doors, pool deck and trellis
Charles Gane, principal at CORE Architects, said the massing strategy of the building was picked up early on by LA Ads, a Toronto-based marketing and communications firm. “The marketing team came up with a whole series of things—stacks of objects with one item rotated. This became a constant theme throughout the project." Gane said the wood-clad main entrance to the building was particularly successful: "The rotation suggests the building opens up at the corner.” The desire to minimize the impact of the facade through careful compositional games and material selections is due in large part to the building's location within a largely residential neighborhood that continues to attempt a balance between a park-like setting of historic homes and larger civic-scaled institutions. Despite a daylight-absorbing matte-black zinc-clad facade finish and multiple facade setbacks, regulatory agencies shaved four stories off the overall building height prior to construction. A reinforced concrete slab system accommodates column offsets with thickened slabs in selective areas. The construction system allows for floor plates that average 10 units per floor and a penthouse level that cantilevers over lower level floors. Every floor that changes has to accommodate a one-foot offset for building systems that must shift and reroute to adjust to the skewed plan layout, which remained orthogonal to the facade. 12 Degrees has been shortlisted in the “housing” category for the World Architecture Festival Awards, which will be helpful in Berlin this upcoming November. This is the second time in the past three years that CORE has produced a shortlisted entry (Six50 King in 2014 being the other project). 12 Degrees is up against BIG, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, among others.
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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.

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ABI

Architecture Billings Index: Growth slumps, but remains positive
Now on a six-month streak, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has stayed positive. For July, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported a score of 51.5, down from 52.6 in the previous month. While overall the score signalled good news, the Northeast and West regions dipped below 50. The South continued its strong run of form, with its index rising to 56.9. Growth in the Midwest also recovered from a score of 48.6 last month, posting 50.1 for July. 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. July also saw both inquiries and design contracts report positive figures: 51.8 and 57.5, respectively. Previously, design contracts had fallen to 49.7, having enjoyed comfortable growth for well over year before hand. Inquiries, on the other hand, while nearly always strong (the last figure below a score of 50 was in July 2009) fell from 58.6 to 57.5. “The uncertainty surrounding the presidential election is causing some funding decisions regarding larger construction projects to be delayed or put on hold for the time being,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “It’s likely that these concerns will persist up until the election, and therefore we would expect higher levels of volatility in the design and construction sector in the months ahead.” Key July ABI highlights:
  • 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
Due to small sample sizes, the regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average. On the other hand, for the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly figures.
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ABI

Architecture Billings Index presses on after strong start to the year
For the fifth month running, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has stayed positive. For June, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported a score of 52.6, down from last month's 53.1, though it should be noted that any score above 50 suggests an increase in billings. There was, however, "concern" over the slump in design contracts. Regionally, all areas (excepting the Midwest) continued strongly with numbers keeping on a positive trend.   “Demand for residential projects has surged this year, greatly exceeding the pace set in 2015. This suggests strong future growth for housing in the coming year,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “While we expect to see momentum continue for the overall design and construction industry in the months ahead, the fact that the value of design contracts dipped into negative territory in June for the first time in more than two years is something of a concern.” 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. Key June ABI highlights:
  • 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
Due to small sample sizes, the regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average. On the other hand, for the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly figures.
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ABI

Architecture Billings Index peaks at highest score in a year

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
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Safe! (for now)

Endangered Marcel Breuer building gets a reprieve
For once, a Brutalist building gets a stay of execution. The Planning Commission in Fairfax County, Virginia, overruled its own staff recommendation yesterday and voted not to approve a developer’s request to rezone land in Reston so a developer can tear down the only Marcel Breuer-designed building in Virginia to make way for residential development. The planning department staff had recommended demolition of the former American Press Institute headquarters on Sunrise Valley Drive, a 48,000-square-foot building that opened in 1974, and rezoning of the land to make way for multi-family housing. The planning commission voted 6 to 6 on the question of rezoning the property for residential development, and that was not enough for the developer to obtain a demolition permit. Technically, it means that the planning commission forwards the developer’s rezoning application to the county Board of Supervisors with a negative recommendation. The vote came at the end of a sometimes heated hour-long discussion about the importance of the Breuer building and the groundswell of support it has received from preservationists, including an online petition signed by more than 1,300 people from as far away as Europe and South America. Several of the commissioners said they were impressed that the building was getting international attention and so many people wanted to see the building saved. Before the meeting, the commission received a flood of letters, emails and other materials from groups that want to see the building preserved, including the American Institute of Architects and New York architect Robert Gatje, who worked with Breuer for many years. “The world is now aware that this building exists,” said commission member Julie Strandlie. Commissioner James Hart, who studied architecture at the University of Virginia, said he was impressed by a site visit to the building that the group took on June 2. He said the building is in good shape and raved about the acoustics in the conference room. “I was favorably impressed by the use of natural light and shadows,” he said. “It brought the outside indoors” to the extent that some rooms “appeared to have trees in them,” he said. Hart also said the county was wrong not to recognize the Breuer building’s significance. “This was a major screw up,” he said. “I hope this is a wake up call to us that we need to make sure something like this does not happen again.” The commission also voted unanimously to direct the Board of Supervisors staff to conduct a countywide survey of properties to make sure there are no other buildings that deserve protection but don’t have landmark status. Preservationists had argued that the Breuer building should be saved because it was the first building in Reston designed by an internationally prominent architect, that it was a significant example of Breuer’s sculptural use of precast concrete panels, that it was important in developer Robert Simon’s early plan for Reston, and that it was associated with a long list of noteworthy journalists. Carol Ann Riordan, the last director of the American Press Institute (while the organization was in Reston) and founder of a group formed to save the building, praised the commission for its decision not to approve demolition. She said her group wants to see the Breuer building preserved and reused, perhaps by another non profit. “We’re all very pleased and elated that the planning commission took this stance, which was a very brave stance,” Riordan said. “It is an architectural treasure and deserves a second life. It’s part of Reston’s rich tapestry. There is still much work to be done. But the end game is that the API building had a mission—lifelong education, transformation, building community—and we would like to see it passed on to another group that has a mission along these same lines.” Riordan said she was most impressed that planning commission members admitted that the county “screwed up” in not recognizing the significance of the Breuer building and then voted not to support the demolition rather than letting the building be torn down anyway. “It takes a lot of guts to say ‘we screwed up,’” Riordan said. “I find that very courageous.”
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Petition Under Way

Virginia’s only Marcel Breuer building threatened with demolition
Another Brutalist building by noted architect Marcel Breuer is threatened with demolition, this time in Reston, Virginia. The endangered building is the former American Press Institute (API) headquarters, located on a four acre site at 11690 Sunrise Valley Drive. It's Breuer’s only structure in the commonwealth of Virginia. Opened in 1974, it has been a place where newspaper publishers and editors attended meetings held by the non-profit API, founded in 1946. The $3 million, 48,000-square-foot building was constructed in the part of Reston that was reserved for non profit organizations, and its design is an example of Breuer’s sculptural use of precast concrete panels. It was the first building in the then-new town of Reston to be designed by an internationally prominent architect. The API closed in Reston in 2012 after merging with the Newspaper Association of America. Now a private developer controls the building and wants to raze it to make way for residential development. The Fairfax County Planning Commission is scheduled to meet on June 16 to consider the developer’s application to rezone the land and obtain a demolition permit.  If the planning commission and the county’s Board of Supervisors approve the plan, the building will be razed so single- and multi-family housing can be built on the site. An online petition has been created at ipetitions.com, asking county leaders to save the Breuer building. “For nearly 38 years,” the petition states, “tens of thousands of news media executives—representing a “Who’s Who in Journalism”—attended leadership seminars in the nonprofit’s Breuer-designed headquarters in Reston. The API building is historically and architecturally significant. It is a crucial chapter in Reston’s rich history. It should have a second life instead of being torn down.” A coalition of architectural and history experts, both local and national, has questioned the demolition plan. The group includes the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board; the Fairfax County History Commission; the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Historic Resources; residents of Reston and other parts of Fairfax County; architects; historians; preservationists; journalists who have participated in programs at the building, and people who have worked in the building. Some preservation advocates say the building would be ideal for conversion to a regional library and that the county has money in its budget to do that. “The more brutalist reminders of Reston’s awesome concrete past, the better,” says the writer of the Restonian blog. Others say it reflects the vision of Reston developer Robert Simon, who aims to encourage construction of architecturally significant buildings in his planned community. At a meeting in May, the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board passed a motion and sent it with a letter to county officials pleading that “The Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors, and County agencies consider further historical and architectural evaluation and specific heritage resource significance of the American Press Institute building, and consider appropriate land usage that could lead to the preservation and/or adaptive reuse of the building…so that informed decisions can be made based on professional analysis.” The review board members had written previously that they believe "the property has a reasonable potential for meeting the criteria for listing on the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places.” On May 17, David Edwards, Architectural Historian for the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Historic Resources, wrote: "It is our opinion that the API building reaches the level of exceptional importance…and strongly encourages its preservation…. If the API building were to be demolished, the community and the state would lose the work of a master architect. Additionally, and maybe more importantly, Reston would lose a building that is part of its community’s distinctive architectural history.” Despite those and other warnings, staffers for the county’s planning commission have recommended approval of the rezoning application and demolition permit. As of today, the petition to save the Breuer building has more than 1,300 signatures, including signers from Europe and South America. An architect and furniture designer who worked at the Bauhaus in Dessua, Germany, and received the AIA Gold Medal in 1968, Breuer was born in Hungary in 1902 and died in New York in 1981. Breuer designed the 1966 Whitney Museum of American Art on Madison Avenue in New York City, which was recently converted to the Met Breuer, a satellite for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Beyer Blinder Belle guiding the conversion. Breuer also designed the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters in Washington, D. C. , and, while he was head of the cabinet making workshop at the Bauhaus, the Wassily chair. The Virginia building is one of several Breuer structures in the United States that are facing an uncertain future. In New Haven, Connecticut, his 1970 Pirelli Tire Building is vacant and its base has been modified. In Atlanta, Georgia, public officials are considering construction of a new library to replace Breuer’s 1980 Central Library and Library System Headquarters building at One Margaret Mitchell  Square NW. Preservationists there have been circulating a petition asking the Fulton Public Library Board to save the building and rename it after Breuer.
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Ridge Flats

Morris Adjmi- and Onion Flats-designed Philadelphia development one step closer to realization
A mixed-use complex designed by New York-based Morris Adjmi, in collaboration with Philadelphia-based practice Onion Flats Architecture, was widely praised at a monthly Civic Design Review (CDR) in Philadelphia. Located on 4300-4326 Ridge Avenue in the East Falls neighborhood, the scheme required CDR approval due to it encompassing more than 100,000 square feet of gross floor area, and more than 100 new dwelling units. Known as "Ridge Flats," the project has been in the works since at least 2011 when the proposal, then originally just by local practice Onion Flats was given the go ahead by authorities. The complex was due to be built by 2014, but three years ago the CDR committee advised altering the building's primary access point. "By virtue of that we had to redesign it entirely because of the way it affected parking," said David Grosso of Grasso Holdings, the developer behind the project. Since then Morris Adjmi has has stepped in and plans have been drastically changed to offer a staggered facade and a much larger courtyard. The scheme will be built on a 1.7-acre plot and offer 206 residential units—up from the originally planned 147. A fifth of these will come already furnished meanwhile plans also include 20,188 square feet of commercial space, a rooftop pool area, and a garage that will hold 194 parking spaces. Totaling 236,084-square-feet, the scheme retreats from Kelly Drive and is orientated southward toward the Schuylkill River. A green wall will be located on this side of the building and is set to a host living art installation as per the Percent for Art Program. After enjoying success at the CDR, plans will now go to the Zoning Board of Appeals and the City Planning Commission. Despite the praise offered, however, the CDR did make some suggestions. Nancy Rogo Trainer, the committee chair, spoke out against the "monolithic" north-side elevation that looks onto Ridge Avenue. "It makes the building seem a little relentless. It would be terrific if there was some way of breaking up what could be a very monotonous building," she said. Other suggestions included integrating the ground level with more public spaces and varying the color scheme with the paneled facades.
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New study: trail-oriented development improves public health and property values
We all know there's value in transit-oriented-development, but what about trail-oriented development? The nonprofit Urban Land Institute (ULI) released a study that examines how active transportation—biking and walking infrastructure—can work in urban planning, development, and land-use projects. The report highlights ten case studies (a blend of mixed-use, multi-family, and residential projects) in cities across the the world, from Des Moines, Iowa, to Singapore. European cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam have some of the highest percentages of people who commute by bike. Therefore, they've long factored this type of design into their urban development. In the U.S., cities like New York, Seattle, Portland, and Washington D.C. are investing in bike lanes. What happens when officials, urban planners, and developers, and other professionals involved in the built environment put a premium on safe sidewalks, cycle paths, the pedestrian, and the cyclist? Trail-oriented development can create major savings in health costs. “In terms of health and wellness benefits, the report points to savings of $103 million (US dollars) in Sydney due to the increase in bike trips and reduced traffic congestion,” writes the ULI in a release. “Also, in Philadelphia, a 2011 study found that residents’ use of biking trail system avoids $199 million per year in direct medical costs and $596 million in indirect costs.” The ULI report looks at global active transportation infrastructure from multiple perspectives: highways for bicycles in Copenhagen, bike sharing in Paris and China, and The Circuit Trails bike paths in Philadelphia. Real estate also figures prominently in the report. In addition to supporting health and wellness, urban and suburban trail systems help spur real estate development and increase property values. You can read the full report here.
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You Could Be Home By Now
Chicago.
Ian Freimuth/Flickr

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.

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Much to Kermit Baker's chagrin, the January Architecture Billings Index (ABI) thaws prematurely
It's time to panic. Well, not panic, maybe, but frown a little bit: after a generally positive showing in 2015, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is back in negative territory. The January ABI score was 49.6, down from 51.3 in December 2015. As AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker will have you know, any score below 50 indicates a decrease in billings. “The fundamentals are mostly sound in the nonresidential design and construction market,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a statement. “January was a rocky month throughout the economy, with falling oil prices, international economic concerns, and with steep declines in stock market valuations in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some of the fallout of this uncertainty may have affected progress on design projects.” (If these numbers seem to contradict the previous month's readings, that's because each January, the AIA research department updates seasonal factors used to calculate ABI, which results in a revision of recent ABI values. January's new projects inquiry index was down 5.2 points from the previous month, for a score of 55.3. Design contracts were also down, by 0.1, but remained in positive territory for a January score of 50.9. Sector billings were mixed. Multi-family residential billings were down one point, at 51.9, and institutional billings were at 49.9, down 2.3 points over the previous month. Commercial/industrial billings (50.5) were up by 3.2 points, while mixed practice (49.0) rose 2.5 points. The Northeast (50.4) and Midwest (48.9) saw increases of 3.7 and 2.8 points, respectively, while the South (50.3) and West (50.8) saw decreased of 3.0 and 2.9 points. Don't forget: The ABI, the leading economic indicator of construction activity, reflects a nine 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.
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The Architecture Billings Index finishes strong in 2015
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) closed 2015 in positive territory. Demand for design services increased in eight out of 12 months last year. “As has been the case for the past several years, there continues to be a mix of business conditions that architecture firms are experiencing,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a statement.  “Overall, however, ABI scores for 2015 averaged just below the strong showing in 2014, which points to another healthy year for construction this year.” The ABI is the leading indicator of construction activities that reflects the approximately nine to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The December ABI score was 50.9, up from 49.3 in November. As Kermit Baker will have you know, any score above 50 means an increase in billings. The December new projects inquiry index was 60.2, up 1.6 points from November, while the design contracts index was down 2.5 points, to 51.0, over the same period. The national, new projects inquiry, and design contracts indices are calculated monthly. Except for the Northeast with 46.7 (a 0.5 increase over November), the regional numbers were down for December. The West was at 53.7; the South, 53.3; and the Midwest 46.1. (That's a decline from 54.5, 55.4, and 47.8, respectively.) The sector index breakdown fared similarly. At 46.5, mixed practice was down 1.1 points from November. Multi-family residential fell 0.9 points to 52.9, whilecommercial/industrial billings fell to 47.3, from 51.0 in November. Institutional billings saw a gain of 0.2, to 52.2, for December. The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three month moving average.