Search results for "affordable housing"

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Vauxhaul Voting

Zaha Hadid's South London tower faces public inquiry amid local criticism
Zaha Hadid Architects’ (ZHA) Vauxhall Cross Island towers in London will face a public planning inquiry related to ongoing criticism over the building’s height and location. Architect’s Journal reported that though the design was granted approval in May, the Ministry of Housing, Communities, & Local Government is set to investigate how the proposal affects the surrounding community. Comprised of two slender towers—53 and 42 stories in height respectively—and linked by an 11-story base, the mixed-use residential structure is projected to bring 257 apartments, 618 hotel rooms, seven floors of offices, and ground-level retail space to the South London district of Vauxhall. A largely residential and industrial neighborhood, Vauxhall is defined by its accessibility to central London and proximity to a large rail line that services the whole city. ZHA's plan is set to make the massive skyscraper the new "district center" of the community, complete with a public plaza.  Britain's housing secretary James Brokenshire has asked the local Lambeth Council to review how ZHA's proposal conforms to the rules set by the National Policy Planning Framework, which ensures "the vitality of town enters; building a strong, competitive economy; and conserving and enhancing the historic environment," according to Architects' Journal. The design would be significantly taller than the previously approved project at the site, which rose to 41 stories, while also surpassing the approximately 500-foot height limit for the area. Additionally, it would contain only 23 units for middle-income-level renters, requiring the firm to pay about $40 million towards affordable housing in the area.   Despite the fact that the studio has called it a “breakthrough project"—it would be ZHA's first mixed-use residential and commercial building, the community has been reeling since the scheme was first submitted for approval in December 2017. The building would also cause the demolition of the Vauxhall bus station built by ARUP in 2005, as well as reroute traffic, causing critics to fear increased congestion.  The designers of the replacement transportation hub, 5th Studio, see the overhaul as an opportunity to improve mobility and public space in Vauxhall. “The project is catalyzed by the replacement of the road gyratory which dominates the area, established by transport engineers in the 1970s, with a two-way road arrangement which provides dedicated space for cyclists and improved road crossings," the studio said on their website, "The project integrates this more urban approach to road planning with the demands of a busy London interchange, which includes buses, rail, riverboat, and underground services." 
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Forever Mikyoung

Mikyoung Kim and DiMella Shaffer will design Boston's first LGBTQ-friendly senior housing facility
  Boston will get its first LGBTQ-friendly senior housing facility, designed by Boston-based architecture firm DiMella Shaffer and landscape architecture by Mikyoung Kim Design. On November 13, the Public Facilities Commission voted to convert Hyde Park’s former William Barton Rogers Middle School, a 120-year-old building, into a 74-unit complex for mixed-income people age 62 and up, including units for homeless seniors.  The facility, which is the city's first of its kind, will provide staff and residents with training to ensure an LGBTQ-friendly environment. However, the complex will be open to all seniors with none set aside specifically for LGBTQ people, as anti-discrimination laws require. The news coincides with the opening of the Marvel Architects-designed, first LGBTQ-friendly affordable senior housing facility–the largest in the country–in New York City, and represents a growing recognition of the need for housing among this demographic.   The $32 million renovation will be developed by Pennrose Holding LLC in partnership with the nonprofit LGBTQ Senior Housing organization, with funding coming from a combination of public money and private loans. According to The Boston Globe, the 98,000-square-foot former school building will be mostly preserved. Additions and updates will include an outdoor courtyard as well as a community space, and an art gallery showcasing the Civil War-era 54th Infantry Regiment of Hyde Park, which was made up of volunteer African-American soldiers fighting for the Union. Pre-existing amenities such as the school gymnasium will be renovated to hold indoor physical activities.  “With the housing boom Boston has been witnessing, we need to ensure housing for our seniors, especially for the underserved LGBTQ community,” said Philippe Saad, Associate Principal at DiMella Shaffer. “Innovative partnerships like this one will serve as a model for opportunity. It paves the way towards integrating older adults in their community by  providing spaces that are inclusive and multigenerational by design. This project will also further the city’s age-friendly initiative and Imagine Boston 2030 as we head into 2020.” The development is significant for addressing the needs of a twice-vulnerable population. According to the City of Boston’s Commission on Affairs of the Elderly's 2014 “Aging in Boston” report, four-in-ten senior Bostonians live on household incomes of less than $25,000, and half experience a high-cost burden of housing. For LGBTQ seniors, this is compounded by the issue of finding safe and accepting housing situations.  “The number one issue for LGBT seniors is housing. There’s a huge panic about where we’re going to go when we can’t take care of ourselves,” Bob Linscott, assistant director of the LGBT Aging Project at Fenway Health told The Boston Globe. "There’s a big fear of going to a place where people will be bullied and harassed by the same people who bullied and harassed them decades ago.”
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Santa Came Early

Santa Fe live-work complex offers artists affordable housing amid critical shortage
Santa Fe’s housing shortage has reached critical levels in recent years, prompting comments that “the fabric of the community is weakened as precious resources—people’s time, energy, and money—are drawn away by housing costs or long commutes,” according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. With an estimated 5,000- to-10,000 additional housing units needed to ease the crisis, a debate has emerged over the market’s shift in focus toward short-term rentals and Airbnb listings rather than affordable long-term rentals. Siler Yard: Arts + Creativity Center hopes to be a small-but-mighty part of the solution by offering income-restricted living and working space for 65 artists. Planning for Siler Yard began in 2012 when Creative Santa Fe, an organization dedicated to “using collaboration and the power of the arts to reframe critical issues and drive positive change,” reached out to the nonprofit developer Artspace regarding the plausibility of creating an affordable living and working complex for Santa Fe artists. Over the next several years, the team commissioned designs by Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, Trey Jordan Architecture, da Silva Architecture, and Surroundings Studio. Most recently, the project was awarded a $10.4 million low-income housing tax credit from the State of New Mexico, officially launching the neighborhood into construction. Siler Yard will welcome applications from anyone who shows passion and commitment to creative pursuits. Applicants do not need to receive their primary income from creative work, and Siler Yards plans to include a variety of creatives, including musicians, writers, chefs, and designers. The units are capped in incremental amounts that will cater to mostly low- and very low-income residents, and more than half will include two or three bedrooms for families with children. In addition to the private units, the complex will include a shared maker space with specialized resources and space to host community workshops and classes. The project, overseen by nonprofit developers Creative Santa Fe and New Mexico Interfaith Housing, expects to break ground in spring 2020 with the full build-out completed sometime in summer 2021.
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SoMaNy New Developments

HOK will bring a ship-like office complex to San Francisco
The tightly-packed SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood of San Francisco will soon have a new addition in the form of an arresting mixed-use tower that's likely to set a new cultural direction for the area. The ship-like, 14-story project developed by Boston Properties and designed by international architecture, engineering and urban planning firm HOK has recently been unanimously approved for construction by the San Francisco Planning Commission. Joel Koppel, Vice President of the Planning Commission, stated that “Boston Properties has, once again, outdone themselves in creating a unique development project that raises the bar in innovation and sustainability and provides direct benefit to the surrounding community.” When complete, the 185-foot-tall 725 Harrison Street will contain over 770,000 square feet of rentable office space, 36,000 square feet of retail space on its lower floors, and over 16,000 square feet of additional space for public use. As one of the tallest buildings in the area, the complex will also feature five roof decks with views across San Francisco. Bob Pester, executive vice president of the San Francisco Region for Boston Properties, expressed that the development "combines an ideal location, a city-leading sustainability program, and thoughtful design to create the best workspace to recruit and retain top talent.” The project signals the further gentrification of SoMa, as five older, garage-programmed buildings and a parking lot will have to be demolished to make way for the new development. With close proximity to some of the city's biggest cultural attractions, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Children's Creativity Museum, the new building will likely have little trouble finding tenants for its retail and office spaces. Construction of the new development is expected to happen in two phases, the first of which will take place in late 2020 with an anticipated completion date in 2021. The second phase will include the construction of an adjacent, eight-story-tall building dedicated entirely to affordable housing with approximately 140 units.
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A House Divided

Where do the Democratic frontrunners stand on housing?
Although the 2020 election is a year out at the time of writing, and the first Democratic primary in Iowa is two months away, the battle to become the Dem frontrunner is becoming increasingly brutal. As the campaign field is winnowed on what seems like a daily basis, and a once sprawling cast has been cut back to a handful of mainstays and self-financed billionaires, we've aggregated the housing views of the top six Democratic contenders. Whoever wins the next presidential election will have the ability, and mandate, to reshape the American housing landscape; and in turn, how our cities develop. (For brevity's sake, President Trump's housing plans have not been included, as they will likely remain the same. This may change over the course of the presidential campaign proper.) Of course, because housing, urban development, and construction are issues intertwined with livelihood, race, climate, trade, and a myriad of other issues, each candidate's approach can't be examined from just one angle. Joe Biden While former Vice President Joe Biden has not released a housing plan writ large, he has announced a goal to house all formerly incarcerated people as a part of his Plan for Strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice. His announcement promises to direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to require all contractors to allow formerly incarcerated people in their facilities. This implies that HUD is building much at all at this point, whereas the reality is that so much funding has been drained away from the department over the years that what is created through federal grants is a paltry drop in the bucket. The department's total budget is $42 billion; more than half of that goes towards rental assistance, $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grants, and $2.78 billion for public housing capital projects. Not only is this figure inadequate for the housing needs of people of low-to-moderate means in general, it wouldn’t even meet the needs of the formerly incarcerated. Biden’s plan also argues for more funding for transitional housing, something previously cut by the Trump administration. However, by addressing such a narrow part of the general problem of housing, Biden tends to inadvertently suggest how little he is conscious of the actual problems of housing in the U.S.; as the New Republic put it, based on what he has plans to do, Biden should be president for five minutes. That doesn’t mean that Biden’s policies might not indirectly improve housing conditions for those in need of assistance. His Plan for Rural America for instance, talks about improving the middle class and investing in rural places. But the details are more about improving trade policies to help farm exports, which might benefit large agribusiness more than small farmers. Biden also talks about providing microloans for beginning farmers and aiding sustainable farmers with access to markets by having federal programs buy from them directly, which are so small-bore and marginal as proposals as to reinforce the notion that Biden has awfully few ideas when it comes to rural housing initiatives. Perhaps the most promising areas of Biden’s policies that could be relevant for housing are his Plan to Invest in Middle-Class Competitiveness, which is essentially an infrastructure bill, and his Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice, which is essentially a policy in support of the Green New Deal resolution. Biden talks here about directing HUD to increase the energy efficiency of low-income housing, which wouldn’t expand the housing stock; however, it would increase the federal energy standards for appliances and building equipment, accelerating the adoption of stricter building codes. The knock-on effects of these could hold real promise for improving the quantity and quality of housing, if legislated well, but there are huge gaps here in terms of addressing the incentive structures that cause the housing stock to remain unaffordable to half of American households. Biden mentions increasing the funding of the New Market Tax Credit (a tax incentive to build in low-income communities) to $5 billion to support Community Development Financial Institutions. This is still a drop in the bucket for a nationwide program and totally insufficient to support the needs of small-and-medium-size cities—for instance, it's estimated that the New York City Housing Authority could need up to $68.5 billion in repair costs alone by 2028. Elizabeth Warren As one would expect from her “She’s Got a Plan” motto, Warren has a relatively substantial set of policy proposals for how to create affordable housing. Her Safe and Affordable Housing plan hits back at a number of factors causing distortions in the housing marketplace to the detriment of lower and middle-income earners. The plan sets a top-line goal to reduce rents by 10 percent, but her argument is initially premised on the mistaken assumption that prices are a function of supply and demand. In the very next line, Warren correctly acknowledges the contrary: Market incentives are producing higher-end housing that is more profitable but doesn’t meet the needs of at least half of the population. In response, Warren has introduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act in the Senate, legislation that would invest $500 billion over ten years to build, preserve, and rehabilitate up to 3.2 million units affordable to lower-income families. This goes a long way toward injecting capital into a part of the housing market that banks don’t lend to and that has been starved for access to federal loans and grants for decades. Some of the smaller aspects are relatively minuscule but may be marginally helpful, such as providing capital to black communities and underwater mortgages, trying (again) to force banks to lend to low-income communities in line with the long-ignored Community Reinvestment Act, and offering incentives to municipalities to loosen restrictive zoning that limits lot sizes and requires parking, driving up costs. At the same time, Warren has put forward a plan to protect and empower renters, a group largely ignored by the American dream of homeownership that turned into a nightmare during the mortgage-backed securities crisis. Thirty-percent of homes are renter-occupied in the U.S., with 57 percent owner-occupied and more than 10 percent vacant either annually or seasonally. Warren wants to use the $500 billion in federal housing subsidies as a prod to force states and municipalities to adopt a federal just cause eviction standard, a right to lease renewal—effectively a sort of federal rent control if done right—protections against construction evictions, and protecting tenants’ right to organize. To the extent it could be effectively written, passed by Congress, and enforced, this legislation could substantially change the trajectory of housing costs. Apart from that, Warren has a number of clean energy policies that would impact the housing sector; in particular, the ambition of creating a zero-carbon building standard by 2023, a mandate to move toward 100 percent zero-carbon new buildings by 2028, a subsidy for retrofitting existing building through tax credits, access to financing for moderate-income households, and direct federal grants. Bernie Sanders True to form, Bernie Sanders' housing plan is articulated in broad, sweeping strokes, premised on ideas of economic justice. “Housing for All” is simple and to the point: “In the richest country in the history of the world, every American must have a safe, decent, accessible, and affordable home as a fundamental right.” It’s also comprehensive in addressing the problem, analyzing the shortfall of 7.4 million units of housing affordable to the lowest-income households. Sanders' plan identifies seniors and people with disabilities as particularly vulnerable, in addition to those affected by rising prices and the failure of wages to keep up with prices in cities and rural areas. Also true to form, Sanders does not shy away from addressing the costs: $2.5 trillion over 10 years to build nearly 10 million permanently affordable housing units. The breakdown is distributed through a $1.48 trillion investment in HUD’s National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, focused on building permanently affordable rentals and providing assistance to first-time homeowners. He proposes allocating an additional $400 billion towards the construction of two million mixed-income social housing units, $410 billion to fully fund Section 8 rental assistance for the 7.7 million rent-burdened households nationwide, along with $70 billion to rehabilitate and decarbonize public housing. Sanders would ask Congress to repeal the 1999 law that prohibits using federal funding for new public housing. In rural and tribal areas, Sanders has proposed adding $3 billion to the Indian Housing Block Grant Program to build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable housing in sovereign tribal lands, and $500 million for affordable developments in rural areas, along with regulations protecting existing units from conversion to market-rate housing. Sanders’s platform includes measures for combatting gentrification, exclusionary zoning, segregation, and housing speculation. Like Warren, he would protect existing tenants by implementing national rent regulation, specifying limits to annual increases of no more than a three percent annually or 1.5 times the Consumer Price Index, with waivers for significant capital improvements; a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, and a right to counsel in housing disputes. Sanders has proposed a 25 percent "flipping tax" and a two percent empty home tax, but the rest of this part of the platform is fairly weak compared to the direct language elsewhere, as it leverages access to federal funds to incentivize jurisdictions to pass their own inclusionary zoning laws. Also like Warren, Sanders has included a robust set of policies to achieve reduce energy consumption in homes, aiming for 100 percent sustainable sources of electricity and a zero-carbon building sector by no later than 2030. This would be achieved by weatherizing, handing out grants for retrofitting, replacing mobile homes with zero carbon modular units, replacing gas heat with electricity, and subsidizing HVAC replacements with energy-efficient equipment. Pete Buttigieg Pete Buttigieg’s language is measured, reasoned, and clear, making concerted arguments that are rooted in unifying, centrist values. “Security means ensuring every American family has safe, affordable housing” is the headline under affordable housing in his list of campaign issues. But in spite of that, his platform on affordable housing is extremely narrow, oriented around what he calls the Community Homestead Act, a part of his set of proposals for how to redress the history of redlining and discrimination against Black homeownership. Somewhat like land banks in cities with a history of housing vacancy and abandonment, Buttigieg proposes to create a national housing trust that would purchase abandoned properties and redistribute them to qualifying families in pilot cities. Sounds extremely limited, and the bigger problem—as anyone familiar with land banks knows—is that abandoned properties are generally stripped of anything of value. They typically sit empty for many years and lack building services, the building envelopes and rooftops often needs expensive rehabilitations, and they have other serious problems that make them inordinately complicated and time-consuming to fix compared to new construction. Beyond that, Buttigieg lists in bullet points the goals of ending homelessness for families with children, national funding for affordable housing construction, and expanded federal protections against eviction and harassment of tenants, but he provides no detail how to achieve any of them. Michael Bloomberg Mike Bloomberg’s campaign includes proposals for new housing and an earned income credit under one headline policy, perhaps acknowledging that wages and affordability are inevitably linked. As one might expect, his pitch to primary voters leans heavily on his record as mayor of New York City, claiming a legacy of pioneering programs to allow New Yorkers to “gain access to housing and build house wealth” (He doesn’t say which New Yorkers or how many, and certainly some people got rich and were able to buy homes during his administration). An “expansion of funding for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit…would add hundreds of thousands of units of affordable housing over ten years,” claims the Bloomberg campaign. This policy will be familiar to New Yorkers, who recall the city aiming to create or preserve 250,000 units of affordable housing during five years of his administration. This same target, more or less, was the ambition of every mayor since Koch in the 1980s, including Bill de Blasio. We don’t know if Bloomberg achieved it or not, but the campaign's literature quotes an official crediting him with creating 165,000 units during his 12 years in office. Homelessness had significantly increased by the end of Bloomberg's third term, however, and the city had lost more affordable housing than it had gained. This proposal is somehow even less ambitious but stretched thinner, and on a national scale. Bloomberg has also called for an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, which would especially help single families with children, and an increase in the minimum wage, which would theoretically address the income levels of households, while leaving untouched the market incentives that tend to push up prices. At $15 an hour, a single-income household would be earning $31,200 a year, which is around one-third the income needed to rent a typical apartment in New York City. Andrew Yang Despite Yang’s excitement about some shipping containers he encountered during a campaign stop in Las Vegas, with apologies to Lo-Tek, the future of housing is not discarded cargo shipping containers, nor is it at the center of his proposed housing policies. That said, the incident does capture the infectious tech optimism of the Yang campaign, a sense of hopefulness about finding data-driven or engineering solutions to problems. Yang's argument for what he calls human-centered capitalism is an argument for regulating markets in a way that serves public interested goals rather than profit-making. Unfortunately, his thinking about housing policy doesn’t take how profit-making functions in the actual housing market into account. Yang’s proposed housing policy falls under the category of zoning, and focuses on the need to eliminate zoning limits that supply-siders think are the main reason why housing is expensive. Free up restrictive zoning and money will magically flow through the invisible hand of the market to fill the affordable housing gap, the thinking goes. As we know, in reality, all things being equal, the market tends to supply housing to the highest income earners, because it favors higher profitability when there are no other regulations or mandates in place. Yang uses San Francisco as a model of how restrictive zoning prevents new housing from being created, but that is a gross oversimplification of San Francisco's problem, and it suggests that historic preservation, protection of neighborhood character, and a human scale can be easily sacrificed for greater density, rather than using other constraints and incentives to produce a more balanced housing market. Zoning is one tool among many, but by itself, it’s not sufficient.
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Just Floating an Idea

Oakland councilwoman proposes converting cruise ships into homeless housing
During a presentation at a committee meeting on December 5, Oakland City Council president Rebecca Kaplan presented a doubtlessly provocative plan to partially resolve one of the California Bay Area's most significant political crises. One strategy for housing a thousand members of the region's homeless population, Kaplan suggested, would be to repurpose a disused cruise ship and keep it close to the harbor. “I think it’s worth working on," Kaplan opined, "to see if we can have an innovation to provide needed, urgent housing quickly and affordably.” As ludicrous as the idea may have sounded to Kaplan's audience members, it quickly gained traction with those in the industry. Two days after her presentation, an unidentified cruise ship company expressed interest in offering a number of ships for the cause. The opportunity might be attractive to a number of cruise ship companies in light of a looming emissions regulation imposed by the International Maritime Organization that is expected to take place next year. According to the new policy, a number of ships will not fail to qualify for engine upgrades and will therefore not be suitable as fully-functioning cruise ships. Unable to leave the docks, these ships could potentially serve a surprisingly altruistic purpose as they have in the past as emergency housing during Hurricane Dorian, Hurricane Katrina, and other natural disasters. Given the proven track record (though not for long-term housing), Kaplan expressed that she is "excited about the possibility to create more affordable housing quickly.” The Port of Oakland, however, has stated that the plan could not work on its dock in light of current restrictions. The ports are designed for cargo ships, Port of Oakland spokesman Michael Zampa explained, and cannot reasonably accommodate cruise ships without significant alterations. When putting into perspective that the current homeless population in Oakland is currently over 4,000 with little sign of decreasing, a plan such as Kaplan's might become a reality in the near future.
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Uptown Blues

Manhattan judge shuts down Mayor de Blasio’s Inwood rezoning plan
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Verna Saunders nullified Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial 2018 plan to rezone Northern Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood to allow for the construction of larger apartment buildings on December 19. While touted as a necessary solution to the area’s housing crisis, community members, and activists fervently disagreed and sued the administration on account of their concerns being ignored. Saunder’s ruled that the city failed to look at these matters closely.  If approved, the plan would have rezoned 59 blocks north of Dyckman street to increase density and commercial development along 10th avenue, a move that protestors believed would accelerate gentrification, displace residents, and negatively impact minority and women-owned businesses. Despite these concerns, de Blasio vowed to appeal what he called the judge’s “wrong-headed” decision.  After Saunders sent the matter back to the Office of the Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesperson for the city’s Law Department told The City, “We stand by the city’s thorough environmental review and will challenge this decision so important projects, including the building of 1,600 new affordable homes in this community, can proceed.” Despite the promise, protestors believe that income requirements for such housing are often set too high for many local residents.  State Senator Robert Jackson responded excitedly to the news in a tweet saying, “the Inwood Rezoning has been STRUCK DOWN!!!,” congratulating and thanking both Inwood Legal Action and Northern Manhattan is Not for Sale, activist groups and organizers responsible for filing the lawsuit. At a press conference on Friday, December 20, he explained that, “We deserve a JUST rezoning, not this one that put profits over people. I hope now the city will let the community lead, as should have happened from the beginning.”  Resident Ayisha Oglivie, a member of Northern Manhattan is Not For Sale said, “I was screaming at the top of my lungs,” when she read the decision. “It’s about justice for our community. This is about a precedent being set for this entire city.”
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What a Marvel

NYC’s first affordable LGBT-friendly housing for seniors has opened
New York City’s first affordable, LGBTQ-friendly senior housing development opened this week in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. Designed by Marvel Architects and operated by SAGE NYC, an advocacy organization for LGBTQ elders, the building is now the largest facility of its kind in the country.  Originally called the Ingersoll Senior Residences, the project was recently renamed Stonewall House in honor of the 1969 uprising that is often cited as the beginning of the modern LGBT liberation movement. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the event.  The project was a partnership between NYCHA, BFC Partners, SAGE, and the New York City Housing Development Corporation. The 17-story 125,000 square-foot, mixed-use building at 112 Edwards Street includes 54 studio and 91 one-bedroom apartments, laundry facilities, a communal lounge, roof deck, and terraces. SAGE will also operate a 6,800-square-foot community center on the ground floor marked by a cantilevered canopy that extends out at the Myrtle Avenue entrance. The center is expected to open in early 2020.  The building sits on a prominent corner of Myrtle and St. Edwards and features brick as the main facade feature. Abutting the St. Edwards and St. Michaels church rectory to the north, and Fort Greene Park across the street to the south, the site provides ample space for residents to enjoy the outdoors. With that in mind, the building's massing has been designed with three setbacks to provide common outdoor roof terraces with views of Downtown Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. While the complex cannot be exclusively for the LGBTQ community—although the community has endured decades of discrimination, it would be equally discriminatory to exclude heterosexual elders, according to the city’s Fair Housing mandate—the development has been designed with the larger goal of creating a community rooted in inclusion and support, gay or straight. The proximity to amenities was designed in order to promote healthier lifestyles and social interaction for the tenants. Although New York’s affordable housing crisis impacts people from all backgrounds, LGBT elders are statistically more likely to face housing discrimination and harassment from property managers, staff, other residents, or service providers. A few other statistics contribute to the importance of safe places for LGBT seniors, including studies that show nearly half of those living with HIV are over the age of 50 and 53 percent of LGBT seniors feel socially isolated in their environments. With that in mind, Stonewall House was designed as a place where everyone has the right to age-in-place without fear of harassment, discrimination, and even violence, especially when many states do not have laws that prevent housing discrimination in regards to sexual orientation and gender identities.  “People will be able to live their lives freely and openly in this building,” Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE told The Daily Beast. “We see our elders as heroes and want them to be treated as such when living in their own homes. That’s what we want to accomplish with this building.” Stonewall House will provide housing for seniors above the age of 62 who make 60 percent or less of the area median income, and 25 percent of the units are set aside for the formerly homeless. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 43 percent of clients served by drop-in centers identify as LGBT. Similar SAGE-supported developments are in the works and one residential facility is set to open in the Bronx in Spring 2020.  The first residents are expected to move into the building this month and the rest of the residents are scheduled to do so throughout January. 69-year-old Diedra Nottingham, who identifies as a lesbian, is looking forward to her move to Stonewall House from the Bronx and told The Daily Beast that, “I’ve always wanted to be in a gay-friendly environment without discrimination and the glares and looks you can get from people...I have been an advocate for the LGBTQ community even back when we were illegal.” 
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Get the Green Light

2019 Best of Design Awards winners for Unbuilt — Green Building
2019 Best of Design Award for Unbuilt – Green Building: Sendero Verde Designer: Handel Architects Location: New York City Designed for Jonathan Rose Companies, L+M Development Partners, and Acacia Network, Sendero Verde is a mixed-use, multi-building project awarded through New York’s SustaiNYC program, which seeks to create affordable housing for New Yorkers without compromising design quality. Sendero Verde will contain 698 designated affordable units as well as extensive community space, retail space, and outdoor gardens. Sendero Verde will be passive-house certified, making it the largest fully affordable passive-house building in the world when it is completed. Sendero Verde’s design aims to provide a community of opportunity to East Harlem residents, with multiple support services under one roof that address the cycle of poverty that disrupts so many people’s lives. Passive House Consultant: Steven Winter Associates Landscape Architect: AECOM MEP Engineer: Cosentini Associates Envelope: Vidaris Structural Engineer: DeSimone Consulting Engineers Honorable Mention Project Name: Coleridge Street Residences Designer: Touloukian Touloukian Inc
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Joy in a Dumpster Fire

AN rounds up the funniest stories of 2019
As 2019 draws to a close, we’re looking back on some of the events that made it memorable. We’ve rounded up this year’s funniest, most important, and most controversial stories, as well as homages to some of the people we lost.  Fast food, sci-fi, and sex toys—2019 had it all. Whether it’s Kanye West designing affordable housing (only to have the prototypes written up), Comedy Central dropping the truth on the architect’s ego, or a Taco Bell themed hotel popping up in California, it was an interesting year to say the least. Laugh (or groan or cry) your way through the most lol-worthy stories of the year. Taco Bell hotel The Bell, a pop-up, Taco Bell-branded vacation experience in Palm Springs, California, that promised guests Baja Blasts in bed, drew Crunchwrap Supreme fans from around the country and sold out its pilot summer season in minutes. Guests could cuddle up with a Fire! Sauce shaped pillow or pool float, wake up to the beautiful sight of a Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, and fill up on taco-themed merch in the gift shop. In other words, Live Más.  Kanye Wars: The building code strikes back Kanye West’s Star Wars–inspired, dome-shaped affordable housing prototypes were demolished after Los Angeles County officials found that West had failed to obtain the proper permit for the structures (they used concrete foundations, rendering them more than temporary structures in the eyes of the law). Thus ended this unexpected chapter of L.A.’s architectural history—until the sequel, at least.  A more lovable Hudson Yards Design firm Wolfgang & Hite satirized Hudson Yards—the much-maligned New York City megadevelopment that opened in March—by turning some of its buildings into hot pink silicone sex toys. As the firm put it: “Sex does the body good. After the fiery criticisms of Hudson Yards this year, we thought city officials might need a healthy outlet for working through some of that guilt.” LuXXXury real estate experience, indeed.  Shoddy Shed  Not everyone hates Hudson YardsTIME named The Shed, the development’s transformable art space, one of the World’s Greatest Places for 2019. But The Shed’s moveable walls (one of the highlights of the $485 million complex) aren’t winning many fans: Because of misaligned hardware, some don’t work. Whoops!  Alternatino architecture We’ve all met that guy—maybe he was your boss at your first architectural internship or your most loathed professor in undergrad who handed you a crumpled piece of paper and told you to model it in Revit. The Comedy Central sketch show Alternatino with Arturo Castro got it right in a July episode that parodied architecture clichés. In Gerhardt Fjuck, a decorated designer, all the tropes—and the ego—of the pretentious architect were on full display, right down to the glasses.
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Ganging Up

Studio Gang's Gia Biagi appointed as Chicago's new transportation chief
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has appointed Gia Biagi, an urban planner, civil servant, and principal of Studio Gang, to head up the city’s transportation department (CDOT). The decision comes seven months after the previous commissioner resigned ahead of Lightfoot’s inauguration in May.  Before joining Studio Gang in 2015 as the firm’s leader of urbanism and civic impact, Biagi served with the Chicago Park District from 2003 to 2015. During her last two years there, she served as the chief of staff. Biagi has also worked as a policy associate under former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daly after finishing her master’s in urban planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago “Gia’s expertise and years of on-the-ground experience make her the ideal choice to lead our ambitious agenda for CDOT through the coming decade,” said Mayor Lightfoot in a statement. “As we move ahead, I look forward to working side-by-side with Gia and the entire team at CDOT as we implement our vision for equitable, comprehensive urban planning, and transportation that supports every one of our residents, neighborhoods, and businesses, and helps our entire city thrive.”  According to the mayor’s office, Biagi will focus on improving traffic issues in downtown Chicago and tie in CDOT’s projects with other critical infrastructure projects such as affordable housing and the mayor’s INVEST South/West Initiative. It’s also likely that Biagi will be working with her former team at Studio Gang on the transit situation surrounding the O’Hare airport expansion “I am proud that Gia has answered the call to return to public service,” said Jeanne Gang, founding principal of Studio Gang, in a statement. “It is always rewarding to see the members of our team harness the skills they have cultivated in the studio to effect positive change in the world. Gia has been a critical partner in maturing the Studio’s unique approach to our urban scale work that emphasizes mutuality and equity. She remains part of the Studio Gang family, and I am confident that she will accomplish great things for our City.” Biagi’s nomination as CDOT commissioner may be confirmed by the City Council in a vote as early as next month. 
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Timber Takeover

Hacker Architects reveals the U.S.'s next largest mass timber office building, in San Francisco
San Francisco is readying itself to house the largest mass timber office building in the United States as part of a 28-acre development on its historic Pier 70. Spearheaded by Brookfield Properties, the six-story, 310,000-square-foot structure will be among the first new buildings, completed over a 10- to- 15-year timeline, to anchor the city's newest waterfront destination.  Designed by Hacker Architects, the 85-foot-tall office building will feature cross-laminated timber (CLT) floor slabs, glulam columns and beams, steel lateral seismic framing, and metal cladding. The Portland-based studio, with its extensive experience in designing wood-heavy projects, is helping Brookfield bring Pier 70 into the 21st century of eco-friendly architecture.  “The Pier 70 office building will make a statement about how mass timber technologies are pushing design and construction towards environmentally sustainable design solutions that better connect the workplace to the natural environment,” said Hacker principal Corey Martin in a statement.  Located along the city’s southern waterfront in the neighborhood of Potrero Point, Pier 70 was once bustling with industrial innovation, serving as home to several steel and ironworks companies, a shipbuilding group, and a small boat builder over its 100-year history. The area was slated for redevelopment over five years ago, and the core historic structures that have long sat on the pier were recently rehabilitated. Last year, Brookfield started work to clean up the site and prep for new construction, hiring Hacker first to envision the timber office space. One of the integral parts of its design, according to Hacker, will be the structure’s airy interior. By mixing up the ceiling heights, adding windows ranging from 14- to 28-feet high, and using 27-inch exposed wood beams, tenants will have access to ample sunlight and feel the warmth of the all-wood construction throughout the day.  The exterior of the project is meant to be much darker in tone than what’s found on the inside and will feature metal paneling that mimics raw weathering steel in reference to Pier 70’s shipbuilding past. Hacker will chamfer the panels and arrange them in alternating directions on each floor, allowing light to reflect off of them in various ways and create a sense of movement across the facade. Above the lobby level, the architecture will cantilever slightly at the corners, adding further motion to the space while living green walls will add to the sense of connection with nature. So far, the office structure is the only project on the Pier 70 site that’s been publicly projected to include mass timber. Little is known about the other upcoming buildings, except that Hacker and Brookfield will again partner to build it out and that sustainable construction is a top priority. Our decision to use mass timber is inspired by the neighborhood’s culture of creativity, sustainability, and strong opinions,” said Cutter MacLeod, the senior manager of development at Brookfield Properties. “By applying emerging technologies and innovative designs to the structures we’re building here, we are reinforcing that Pier 70 will be a thriving place for creative industries in San Francisco.” Over 2,000 residential units (including affordable housing) and 1.75-million-square-feet of commercial space will be built out in the $3.5 billion megaproject, along with nine acres of parks, playgrounds, and public space. Up to 90,000 square feet is slated to house arts-related nonprofits, while 60,000 square feet of the site will be used for local production and small-scale manufacturing.  San Francisco as a whole seems to be headed toward integrating more all-wood buildings. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 1 De Haro, by Perkins + Will and Pfau Long Architecture and set to open in 2020, will be the city’s first mass timber project. At the nearby California College of the Arts, Studio Gang is designing a trio of CLT pavilions as well. Design approvals for the Pier 70 timber office building are currently underway. Construction is expected to start this spring and phase 1 of the entire site is expected to open in 2022.