Search results for "affordable housing"

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Two Bridges to Nowhere

The Dubaification of New York
The residents of the Two Bridges neighborhood in the Lower East Side find themselves in a predicament. Throughout the city, developers have targeted expired urban renewal areas originally governed by land-use controls that have ensured housing affordability for decades. The Two Bridges Large Scale Residential Development is one such target. Exploiting the site’s underlying high-bulk zoning allowances, a group of developers is proposing to build four new predominantly market-rate skyscrapers, ranging in height from 62 to 80 stories—four gleaming luxury megatowers that portend a storm of gentrification and displacement. The proposal needs approval by the city administration. Many argue that the development requires a “Special Permit,” which would call for a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). In 2016, Carl Weisbrod, then Chair of the City Planning Commission, declared the project a “Minor Modification” requiring no ULURP. After public outcry, the Department of City Planning requested the developers to undertake an unprecedented joint Environmental Review. On October 17, 2018, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing regarding the proposal’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The room was packed. About 100 people testified. The vast majority (myself included) raised serious objections to the project and the approval process. Only five were in favor: two members of a union advocating for 50 permanent building service jobs promised for the site; an advocate for the disabled, who supports all projects that add elevators to subway stops; the current Two Bridges commercial tenant, who is promised a long-term lease in the new complex; and the executive director of Settlement Housing Fund, who is selling air rights to the 80-story tower. At the public hearing, questions about the appropriateness of the project’s scale were addressed by Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP, the firm responsible for the 80-story tower, who showed examples of recent large-scale waterfront projects and said that the city has consistently approved this kind of development. In his presentation, Pasquarelli glossed over substantive issues of urban context. The audience was baffled if not offended. When Pasquarelli claimed that the project “will create a vibrant, beautiful, equitable, and appropriate skyline for the city and its residents,” the room actually burst into laughter. Commissioner Anna Hayes Levin pointed out that the projects of “tremendous scale” that Pasquarelli used to make his case were in manufacturing areas transitioning to a new use, while this expired urban renewal area was planned for, and still is, a low- and moderate-income residential development. Pasquarelli, showing what was at best was ignorance and at worst callousness, did not really respond and brought up the example of the American Copper Buildings, a SHoP-designed 800-unit residential development in an already affluent neighborhood, with nowhere close to the same risks of gentrification and displacement impending at Two Bridges. Laughter also greeted Pasquarelli’s closing sentence: “the city is in a housing crisis, and this provides a huge amount of affordable housing for the neighborhood.” Indeed, a quarter of the new apartments (694 out of 2,775 units) will have a degree of affordability. But for whom? Surely not the current residents of Two Bridges, whose households’ median income ($30K) is below the threshold for renting in the new ‘affordable’ units ($37K). City-wide trends and the advent of Essex Crossing have already resulted in the loss of rent-regulated units as well as higher eviction rates in the area. The influx of 2,081 market-rate apartments cannot but exacerbate the situation and lead to residential and business displacement. Whose neighborhood will this be once bodegas are replaced by cafés selling five-dollar lattes? The Environmental Review was meant to identify any adverse impact from the proposed development in 19 areas of analysis as defined by the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) Technical Manual guidelines. The review found negative impact in five areas—Transportation, Shadows, Open Space, Construction, and Community Facilities & Services—for which the developers are proposing some mitigation. No adverse impact was found in 14 areas, among them Socioeconomic Conditions and Neighborhood Character. How is this possible? The CEQR guidelines are notoriously flawed. For instance, per the guidelines, no resident of a building with even one rent-regulated unit is vulnerable to indirect displacement. Even more troubling: the guidelines call for a “No Action” scenario to be used as a comparison when evaluating indirect displacement. The DEIS defines “No Action” as a condition “in which projects are expected to continue the trend towards market-rate development and rising residential rents in the study area. In accordance with the CEQR Technical Manual guidelines, since the vast majority of the study area has already experienced a readily observable trend toward increasing rents and new market rate development, further analysis is not necessary.” The “No Action” scenario is one of several critical factors that make possible and seemingly inevitable what we might call the ‘dubaification’ of New York City. It is not a loophole: the developers and their compliant architects are going by the book, following the law to the letter. The problem is written in the law itself: once you accept the premise that the market is already conquering the city—that increasing rents and luxury developments are already the norm—no new project, no matter how big or in which urban context, can ever be held responsible for negatively affecting the socio-economic fabric of any area. The question, in assessing this proposal as well as the spate of massive developments popping up all over the city, is not solely about scale. To be sure, height is a major concern. (I find it ironic that the tallest of the existing six housing complexes at Two Bridges is a 21-story building that everyone calls “The Tower.”) But what these megatowers portend is something more ominous: an ever more homogeneous and generic skyline; the disappearance of neighborhoods and their communities; apartments becoming phantom residencies for absentee investors; dwelling valued only as an investment, a commodity; a city of resplendent buildings towering over dead streets. There is still time to do the right thing for Two Bridges. The City Planning Commission will be voting as early as November 14 on the “Minor Modification.” They must deny it. A ULURP must be granted, to allow the public and elected officials to negotiate for more significant community benefits, including greater and deeper affordability as well as height caps to truly tackle the adverse impact of the megatowers. More important, the Two Bridges debate is an opportunity to start imagining alternative visions for our city. The City administration must close zoning loopholes and fix the CEQR guidelines. Let’s build a city in which housing is not treated as a commodity but as a fundamental right.
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Pokemon Go to the Polls

What did the 2018 midterms mean for East Coast architects?
Let out a sigh of relief (or keep holding your breath); the 2018 midterm elections are over, and voters passed judgment up and down the Eastern Seaboard on a wave of politicians and ballot measures that will impact architects, construction workers, and transportation enthusiasts. Climate change policy was also, though not as explicitly, up for a vote alongside more concrete measures. Although the dust is still settling, AN has put together a primer on what the election results mean from Miami to Maine. New York Democrats now control all three branches of government in New York State and are poised to rewrite the state’s rent stabilization laws…assuming Governor Andrew Cuomo lets them. As Gothamist noted, the 1971 Urstadt Law prevents New York City from usurping Albany’s authority and passing more stringent rent control laws than those at the state level, even as the city spirals deeper into its affordable housing crisis. The new year will bring a vote on all of the laws that oversee the city’s affordable housing stock, meaning that the newly inaugurated state legislators will be in prime position to demand stronger tenant protections. The real estate industry in New York City has historically donated to campaigning Republicans and the reelection of the industry-friendly Cuomo, however, so it’s unclear how far the governor will acquiesce. As the NYPost broke down, tenant activists are amped up at the possibility of tamping down annual rent increases and ending the ability of landlords to raise rents after investing in capital improvements. Cuomo’s reelection also likely locks in the decision to place Amazon’s HQ2 (or 2.5) in Long Island City. The governor had been a huge booster for NYC’s bid for the tech hub, promising hundreds of millions in state subsidies. On the national front, the election of a number of “climate hawks,” including New York 14th District representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the 19th District’s Antonio Delgado, will bring a group of climate-action hardliners to Washington. It’s expected the new crop of progressive voices will press the House on plans to transition toward sustainable energy and curb America’s dependence on fossil fuels. More importantly, 16 Republican House members—more than half—on the 90-person bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus were voted out. On its surface, the collapse of the caucus sounds like a bad thing for environmentalists, but as Earther notes, the group was known for advancing milquetoast, business-friendly proposals that ultimately went nowhere. Although any climate action coming from the House needs to pass the Senate and would land on the President’s desk, where it would presumably wilt, the momentum for change is slowly building. Any climate change–confronting action will likely have an outsized impact on zoning codes in New York and beyond and would require construction teams and architects to implement steeper resiliency measures into their projects. Maine In Maine, voters overwhelmingly passed Question 3 by a measure of 2-to-1, ensuring that the state would issue $106 million in general bonds for transportation projects. Of that, $80 million will be used for roadway and bridge infrastructure construction and repair, $20 million for upgrading airports, ports, harbors, and railroads, and $5 million for upgrading stream-facing drainpipes to lessen the impact on local wildlife. One million will also be spent to improve the pier at the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. Florida Ron DeSantis is the new governor and Rick Scott is likely to move up to become a senator. During his tenure as governor, Scott, although presiding over a state uniquely vulnerable to flooding and coastal storms, was a staunch climate change denier and banned the phrase from all state documents and discussions. DeSantis appears to be cut from the same cloth, telling crowds during a campaign stop over the summer that climate change, if it exists, can’t be mitigated at the state level. What this likely means will be a continued lack of action to mitigate climate change and its effects on a state level. Soccer lovers can rejoice, though, as 60 percent of voters endorsed allowing David Beckham’s Freedom Park to build on the Melreese Country Culb. The $1 billion Arquitectonica-designed soccer stadium, hotel, “soccer village,” and office, retail, and commercial space will span 73 acres. Michigan Gerrymandering looks like it’s on its way out in Michigan after a 60-40 vote to redraw the state’s districts. Over several decades, the state legislature had used its redistricting power to cram Democrat or Republican constituents (depending on who was in power at the time) into congressional districts where their impact would be marginalized. Now, after the passage of Proposal 2 and the subsequent amending of Michigan’s constitution, a 13-person, bipartisan panel will be established to redraw the state’s internal boundaries. Four Republicans, four Democrats, and five non-party identifying individuals will make up the commission. Barring a court challenge, money for the initiative, including pay for its members, will be allocated from the state budget come December 1, 2019. After that, the commission will draw up the new districts for the 2022 election using data from the 2020 census. The panel will convene every 10 years, in time with the census, and can only be disbanded after the legal challenges to its decisions are completed. Any Michigan citizen who hasn’t held political office in the last six years can apply to become a commissioner.
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West Coast sees big wins (and losses) in architecture and urbanism ballot initiatives

As Democratic voters moved to retake the House of Representatives and key gubernatorial seats, a series of local architecture-, urbanism-, and climate-related initiatives saw mixed results in western states. Aside from being a referendum on the divisive governance style of President Donald Trump, the midterm election brought with it fierce debates over contentious issues like expanding rent control and funding supportive housing in California, taxing carbon emissions in Washington State, and boosting renewable energy generation in Arizona and Nevada. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of some of the major initiatives and their outcomes.   Arizona: Proposition 127: An initiative to require electric utilities to use renewable energy for 50 percent of their power generation by 2035 failed in the state. The battle over Proposition 127 saw the highest amount of political spending in the state this year, with the state’s main electrical utility, Arizona Public Service, pouring over $30.3 million into a political action committee dedicated to fighting the measure.   California: Proposition C: San Francisco’s supportive housing ordinance was overwhelmingly supported by the city’s voters. The initiative will raise $300 million per year for supportive housing and services from a modest tax levied on companies in the city that gross over $50 million annually in revenue. The measure is similar to the so-called “head tax” in Seattle that was passed and quickly repealed earlier this year. Proposition 1: An initiative to approve $4 billion in “housing-related programs, loans, grants, and projects and housing loans for veterans” in the state gained wide approval. Proposition 2: An initiative to dedicate $2 billion from the state’s 2004 “millionaire’s tax” toward providing “homelessness prevention housing for persons in need of mental health services“ was approved. Proposition 4: An initiative authorizing $1.5 billion in bonds for the “construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of children's hospitals in California” was approved. Proposition 6: Voters in the state defeated a Republican-led effort to repeal a recently-passed gas tax increase. The recent increase is helping to fund bridge and road repairs while also providing new—and much-needed—mass transit funding for the state’s growing public transportation systems. Proposition 10: A state-wide effort to repeal the controversial Costa-Hawkins law that limits how municipalities can institute rent control was soundly defeated. Rather than instituting rent control statewide, the measure would have allowed municipalities the flexibility to set their own policies. Tenants’ rights and anti-displacement advocates saw the effort as providing a lifeline for their constituencies; ultimately, the $76 million raised by real estate and Wall Street interests against the measure was too much for grassroots voters to overcome.   Colorado: Proposition 112: Voters in the Centennial State chose to reject a ballot initiative that would have increased oil and gas drilling setbacks from homes, businesses, and waterways. Resistance to the measure was no match for heavy spending by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the proposition’s main opponent. With controversial hydraulic fracturing rising to new highs in the state and an increasingly bleak outlook for climate change-related disasters around the world, Colorado’s pro-environment movement has been dealt a powerful rebuke.   Nevada: State Question No. 6: Voters in Nevada approved a measure that would require state utilities to generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In order for the measure to become law, however, it will need to survive a second vote in 2020.   Washington State: Measure 1631: Washington state residents largely rejected a measure that would have imposed a first-in-the-nation tax on carbon emissions. The initiative performed well in liberal King County—home to Seattle—but lost pretty much everywhere else in the state. Measure 940: Washington state residents approved a measure that would require law enforcement officials to receive “de-escalation” and mental health training as well as provide first aid under certain circumstances. The initiative would also require authorities to conduct an investigation after a deadly use of force by a member of law enforcement in order to verify that such force meets a “good faith” test.
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Sunlit Sanctuary

Fort Lauderdale complex proves prefab affordable housing can bring the glamour
Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will be home to a new affordable housing unit as part of the collaborative work between Glavovic Studio and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an organization that delivers medical care and services dealing with HIV/AIDS to over one million people worldwide. Fort Lauderdale–based Glavovic Studio plans to transform one-and-a-half city blocks into a green, multi-functional neighborhood for locals to enjoy, all within walking distance of South Florida’s New River. The 3.4-acre design concept called “ON3RD” strives to tackle the nation’s affordable housing and homeless crises by providing fast access to cheap and environmentally friendly housing for low-income individuals. The “affordable residential development campus” will contain a 15-story residential tower, parking garage, and two preexisting service buildings owned by AHF. With the growing number of workers and residents in the area, as well as the steady increase of homelessness generally in the United States, there has been a rising demand for pedestrian and transit-friendly environments in downtown Fort Lauderdale, especially those that incorporate greenery, support infrastructure, and urban open space. Glavovic Studio sought to create a community that reflects the existing fabric of Fort Lauderdale, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades. The firm made sure to include multiple landscaped plazas, terraces, and micro-gardens in the site plan, contributing to the idea of a wholesome, walkable, urban space. While the housing units are designed to tie in seamlessly with the existing fabric of the city, its various zones and neighborhoods will provide visitors with a sense of being in a “city within a city.” The L-shaped residential building that serves as the focal point of the site will house 680 modular micro-apartments, including 260-square-foot-units and 400-square-foot-townhomes on its first four floors. These unit types were chosen primarily because they can be built efficiently using basic construction methods, and they include prefabricated interior bathrooms and kitchens, repeated window wall systems, and standard floor plates, all of which can be built off-site and installed into the building with ease. To diminish the building’s massive scale, its protruding balconies fluctuate at various angles to make it seem as though the structure is composed of a series of interconnected, smaller buildings. Glavovic Studio, which views sustainability as a core part of its philosophy, will layer the building with decorative masonry breeze blocks, which will not only give the structure a sense of texture and depth, but also regulate its exposure to sun and shadow in order to provide each unit with an abundance of shading and cooling. Because the breeze blocks will reduce the need for air conditioning systems, they will save energy and drastically lower the monthly electric bills for the residents. The jutting balconies provide shade and further lower the room temperatures of each unit, a necessary feature for South Florida's hot and muggy climate. “Working with AHF, we have looked far beyond architectural solutions to include political, social, and strategic approaches as well, including community partners and the public on affordable housing issues,” stated Margi Nothard, founder of Glavovic Studio, in a statement. “The ultimate goal is to create a model for a sustainable, economically viable and dignified solution to this entrenched problem.”
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Look on the Sunnyside

Amazon to split HQ2 between New York and Virginia, but can they handle it?
Only hours after the news leaked that Amazon was considering Crystal City, a suburb in Arlington, Virginia, that bounds D.C. for the site of its second headquarters, sources are reporting that two cities will actually be taking home a shiny new HQ2. Long Island City in Queens and Crystal City in Northern Virginia will both be getting a mini-HQ2 of sorts and the accompanying 25,000 employees, raising concerns that both neighborhoods will soon face an influx of wealthier residents that will further strain already stressed housing and transportation systems. Although the Chicago Tribune noted that Amazon’s decision to split up its headquarters may have been to head off criticism that it would overburden any city that HQ2 landed in (echoing complaints of Seattle residents), it may not be enough. Over the last year, 1,436 new residential units were built in Long Island City during a time when New York is already struggling—and using increasingly novel means—to hit affordable housing goals. The decision appears to have been weeks, if not months, in the making. Both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have met with representatives of Amazon in the past few weeks, with the mayor’s office leading tours of the Queens neighborhood. Just last week, the city announced that it would be infusing the waterfront neighborhood with $180 million in investments toward improving schools, infrastructure, transportation, and open space; it now appears that the announcement’s timing was more than coincidental. The city may also be banking on the future development of Sunnyside Yard, the 180-acre active rail yard situated between Long Island City and Sunnyside, to soak up some of the expected influx of new residents. Although Long Island City, directly across the East River from Midtown Manhattan, is served by eight subway lines, the Long Island Railroad, and easy connections to both John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, New York’s subway and bus systems are already in the middle of a crisis. Sky-high ridership in recent years, overcrowding, cascading mechanical failures, and struggles to find the funding necessary to fix the subways’ most pressing issues have all contributed to a decrease in the quality of New York’s transportation network. Governor Cuomo, for his part, has been quiet on whether the incentives offered to Amazon include money to improve, or at least fortify, the subway system, though to this point, the administration has already pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives. Yesterday, the governor joked that he’d go as far as to “change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that's what it takes." We’ll see if he follows through.
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Housing for Humanity

Community groups take the lead in the fight for affordable housing
A growing housing affordability crisis in cities across the country is spurring new community-based movements that work to protect the rights of tenants. A janitor named Socrates Guzman, with the help of the Boston-based grassroots organization City Life, successfully fought a major rent increase. He is now a local community organizer, committed to improving rent control laws in favor of existing leaseholders. Araceli Barrer, a housekeeper, worked with Colorado Homes for All to fight her own eviction and won. She is now trying to push a bill in the state legislature to allow tenants to withhold rent under certain conditions. In Chicago, the Autonomous Tenants Union defends and enforces the right to dignified housing through a group of core volunteers. They seek to "end all evictions" and fight for "community control of housing through the building of popular power.” In Los Angeles, tenant advocates forced a housing initiative to be placed on the November ballot that would allow for the expansion of current rent control laws. Others are not so patient. In one Central Los Angeles neighborhood, two hundred families in three separate buildings banded together and refused to pay rent until their demands are met. They decried stiff rent increases while they continued to live in the poorly maintained buildings. The Los Angeles Tenants Union, composed of volunteer organizers and a legal entity known as the Eviction Defense Network, assists the residents in their fight to win concessions from the landlord. In Colorado, the state legislature has even considered formalizing the rent strike process. Rent strikes, however, have had mixed results. In 2016, tenants in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles lost a court battle after a lengthy strike that resulted in mass evictions and redevelopment of the area. It’s also not easy to find new housing with an eviction on your record and petty landlords often make life painful by turning off the hot water and electricity. Developers argue that limiting the ability of landlords to charge market rents only leads to less housing being built and furthering the housing crisis. Some cities like San Fransisco, Los Angeles, and New York are providing free legal representation for tenants facing eviction. Cities have found that it is cheaper to offer free legal fees to tenants than to provide additional shelters for the newly homeless.
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Farm to City

Van Alen's Climate Council takes a road trip to study climate change
The hot July sun hit the grooves of the farmland barreling past our bus windows as we approached Bowles Farming Company in Los Banos, California. Envisioning sunburns and muddy hikes through the furrows, we—the two dozen landscape design, engineering, and architecture professionals that make up the Van Alen Institute Climate Council—were about to visit the farm as part of a three-day expedition in Northern California to consider how design thinking could impact the way this farm and farms like it plan for climate change. Van Alen launched the Climate Council in 2018 as a platform for practicing design professionals and climate change aficionados to convene for twice-annual, three-day expeditions in regions across the U.S. Through tours, discussions, social gatherings, and hands-on charrettes, our trips provide members with a congenial setting for learning and reflection away from the hectic pace of everyday business. Right at the beginning of this inaugural trip, the Climate Council’s expectations contrasted dramatically with the realities of modern agriculture. Instead of weathering watermelon fields, we found ourselves in a comfortable boardroom. Farm executives welcomed us with cut melon samples and a PowerPoint presentation of the farm’s history, challenges, and technology. Over the soft hum of air-conditioning and with his adolescent son beside him, Cannon Michael, the farm’s president and CEO, shared the impressive facts of his large-scale operation: 11,000 acres, 14 crops, and six generations. Bowles has an advantage that it shares with a small group of farms in the area: Their history of utilizing water from the San Joaquin River provides senior rights to surface water. But with that seniority comes an increased responsibility and stewardship. Their on-staff agronomist schedules crop irrigation daily with care for every drop, logging and adapting to changes in climate on the spot. Michael proudly told us of the precision and care that Bowles uses to manage its water supply amid California’s mounting water crisis. “In times of drought, farmers are often blamed for overusing water,” Michael said. “The reality is, it’s not in a farmer’s best interest to waste water, as we only want to use the exact amount that the crop needs—improper water management has a negative impact on crop production. California is an expensive place to do business, and we must carefully monitor all our inputs and costs, water being a primary one of them. It is also a fact that producing the food and fiber we all rely on every day takes water. Where these products are produced is of critical importance. Not all farms are held to high standards of environmental and ethical production—California leads the way in the world.” Bowles’s commitment to precision and innovation unraveled the Climate Council’s anticipated mission and sent us on a new track of questioning in the days that followed. After visits with a strawberry farmer, a food distribution company, a tomato processing plant, and more, we started asking: What if cities had intricate systems dedicated to tracking inputs and outputs as accurately as these farms? We had set out on our trip thinking we would consider how design could impact the future of food production and distribution, but instead, we realized that cities had at least as much to learn from modern agricultural practices. Van Alen Climate Council Twice a year, the Climate Council travels to the same region—the first visit for exploration, the second for strategizing and discussing pressing climate issues using an interdisciplinary, systems-based approach. We offer professional advice to our partners and hosts, and aim to share lessons learned with other regions, both through further council travel and via members’ professional practices. The council’s purpose is rooted in Van Alen’s mission as a design organization that seeks to understand and demonstrate how design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. The council also provides support and funding for Van Alen’s broader climate-related work. For more than a decade, we have created cross-disciplinary design and research projects that investigate issues of climate change across the country, from the sinking Lower Mississippi River Delta to the hurricane-battered eastern coasts. We are presently working in Greater Miami to help communities protect themselves from rising sea levels, using a design approach to make the region more socially equitable and economically resilient. In selecting the inaugural topic for the Climate Council to explore, co-chairs Claire Weisz and Mark Johnson commented, “We wanted to look at food as the first subject with this council. It’s all-encompassing. It’s something designers don’t get to talk about very often but that ultimately impacts us.” Even designers who work in cities have a vested interest in learning more about the role of agriculture in our society. At a panel conversation during our program, Mary Kimball, the director for the University of California, Davis’s Center for Land-Based Learning (and a partner in developing the council’s California program), reminded us that more than two-thirds of Sacramento’s regional farmland specialty crop jobs are in urban environments. Even though we typically associate agricultural jobs with rural labor, food distribution and packaging centers require resources that are almost always located in urban environments. So much of the food economy surrounds people in urban spaces every day, but we just don’t see it. Similarly, many of the challenges that farmers face in today’s economy are relevant to city dwellers. Time is of the essence On our first day in California, council members met David John, the business strategist at General Produce Company, a distribution center located 10 minutes from the central business district of Sacramento. As we walked through dozens of icy storage rooms, John told us that from the time of arrival to the time of departure, almost all of the fresh fruits and vegetables are present in the facility for less than 48 hours. The center runs 24/7, with days off only on Christmas and New Year’s. When asked about the built environment of the facility, John said that many of the workers adjust rooms or shelving as needed with changes in supply, but that it is difficult to allow for changes because they take time away from moving product. This distribution center, like a vital transit system in a big city, cannot take a day off. We surmised that systems thinking, like that used in transportation engineering, could be used to create more flexible environments in food distribution centers, along with more adaptable storage facilities. The berry farmer’s dilemma Following a brief meeting with the president of the Strawberry Commission of California near Salinas, our council climbed through coastal strawberry fields owned and operated by Tom AmRhein of Naturipe, Inc. AmRhein presented us with a pressing issue that berry farmers are facing in the area: The median home value in Salinas is more than $400,000. With minimum wage for farm laborers at $11 an hour, an enormous gap exists between the incomes of berry pickers and the supply of affordable housing in the area. As a result, AmRhein said that as many as five different families may share a home together in the valley, bringing housing density to the level of some of the nation’s biggest cities. As we downloaded our findings from Tom, the council considered what kind of affordable housing solutions could designers, working with migrant communities, dream up for rural laborers and their families. Moreover, with climate change making weather patterns and farming yields more unpredictable than ever, what kind of housing solutions would provide stronger, more stable, and adaptable shelters in this harsh environment? What’s next? When asked about innovation in agriculture, our program collaborator Kyeema Zerbe, deputy director of the UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food & Health (IIFH), said, “The IIFH prides itself on making uncommon interdisciplinary connections to catalyze innovation across food, agriculture, and health. Collaborations like those with Van Alen help facilitate exploration of systemic issues and view prevailing challenges from new local and regional perspectives. By delving into the intersections between design, agriculture, and innovation, we can begin to imagine a safer, more sustainable and secure food system.” Van Alen believes that climate change is an all-encompassing phenomenon. In such politically divided times, the organization seeks opportunities where designers can work under the partisan radar to generate true collaboration between cities and their surrounding regions, inviting professionals from all backgrounds to innovate. The Climate Council’s experience in Sacramento is an example of how nontraditional collaboration and open-mindedness can lead to enlightened discovery. And it’s just the beginning. On its third day in California, Climate Council members huddled pensively around drafting tables at the UC Davis Department of Landscape Architecture. Over the hours of charrette that followed, they revisited the issues that arose during this trip: How could farm feedback loops inform urban design? What role does governance play in the lack of balance of inputs and outputs in major cities? How can interdisciplinary design professionals enhance the security and resilience of existing rural communities that support our farm industry? Together, we started envisioning answers to these and other questions and made plans to return to Sacramento in early 2019 with design concepts to address them. When we go back, we intend to continue our conversations with local farmers, community members, and other stakeholders. We know there are opportunities for collaboration and implementation; we just need time together. We are onto something.
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15 Years of The Architect's Newspaper

A brief history of architecture in the 21st century
To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we looked back through the archives for our favorite moments since we started. We found stories that aged well (and some that didn’t), as well as a wide range of interviews, editorials, and other articles that we feel contributed to the broader conversation. We also took a closer look at the most memorable tributes to those we lost, and heard from editors past and present about their time here. Check out this history of architecture in the 21st century through the headlines of The Architect's Newspaper:

2003

Protest: Michael Sorkin on Ground Zero

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Crit: AIA Convention (“No more weird architecture in Philadelphia”)
Crit: Spring Street Salt Shed (“In praise of the urban object”)
How institutionalized racism and housing policy segregated our cities
Chinatown residents protest de Blasio rezoning
Roche-Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grille receives landmark designation
Q&A: Jorge Otero-Pailos: Why the Met Breuer matters
Comment: Ronald Rael on the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border
Detroit Zoo penguin habitat opens
Chicago battles to keep Lucas Museum of Narrative Art from moving
Martino Stierli on the redesign of MoMA’s A+D galleries
WTC Oculus opens
Letter: Phyllis Lambert pleads for Four Seasons preservation
Q&A: Mabel Wilson
#NotmyAIA: Protests erupt over AIA's support of Trump
Snøhetta’s addition to SFMoMA opens
DS+R’s Vagelos Education Center opens
Baltimore’s Brutalist McKeldin Fountain pulverized

2017

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More for Less

BIG completes affordable housing complex in Copenhagen
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has recently completed work an affordable housing project in the firm's hometown of Copenhagen, Denmark. The project is known by the name of its neighborhood, Dortheavej, a largely industrial area in the northwestern part of the city with buildings from the early 20th century. The 66-unit complex was designed for the nonprofit Lejerbo, a local organization that is trying to get high-profile architects to design affordable housing. The design used modular construction to create a repetitive facade where every-other unit punches out to create small balconies for the unit above. The checkerboard facade is clad in glass and loose wood slats to create an organic, almost rustic, look and feel. The stacked housing modules create a gently-bending wall that frames a plaza to one side of the building. Punches through the building on the ground level allow passage through the relatively narrow profile. The units range in size from 645 to 1237 square feet. "The prefabricated elements are stacked in a way that allows every second module an extra meter of room height, making the kitchen-living areas unusually spacious," Bjarke Ingels said in a statement. The 73,000-square-foot building had a price tag of approximately $9.8 million.
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Hollywood Park Rises

Renderings unveiled for mixed-use neighborhood around L.A.’s new NFL stadium
A project team led by developers Wilson Meany and Stockbridge has unveiled the latest batch of renderings for a 2,500-unit mixed-use neighborhood set to rise around the forthcoming Los Angeles Rams stadium in Inglewood, California. Gensler, BCV Architecture + Interiors, Architects Orange, and Hart Howerton are providing architectural design services for the project while Studio-MLA is the landscape architect for the 298-acre site, Curbed reports. The new HKS Architects–designed, $2.66-billion stadium is in the midst of heavy construction and topped out earlier this year. The teardrop-shaped structure will come wrapped in over 36,000 perforated metal panels and will be punctuated by a large-format elliptical screen located at its uppermost levels that will play advertisements and other graphic projections. A large artificial lake will be located beside the stadium, as well, and will feature a series of waterfalls. The stadium is due to be completed in 2020. According to a project website, the new surrounding neighborhood will open in phases starting in 2020 with an initial batch of 314 apartments of various configurations, including three-bedroom units, spread out over two structures. Eventually, the development will contain 2,500 dwelling units, 620,000-square feet of retail spaces, a 300-key hotel, and a new casino. The new renderings portray a series of porous outdoor shopping areas connected by covered outdoor spaces, programmed landscape areas, and indoor-outdoor venues like a foodie-friendly dining hall and several covered lounge areas. The plans also call for a long and narrow amphitheater and a performance stage. Residential areas for the development will see structures two- to four-stories in height while the hotel complex is slated for a five-story structure anchored by groundfloor retail. An unspecified amount of office space will also be included in the project. The size and market-driven nature of the new development—there are no new affordable housing units slated in conjunction with the project—has already jump-started gentrification in the renter-heavy, predominantly working-class area. Estimates indicate that property values have increased by as much as 80 percent in recent years, Curbed reports. New housing and shopping are not the only things coming to the area, however. A recently-unveiled plan seeks to link the new neighborhood with the regional transit system by building a new 1.8-mile automated people mover. The new infrastructure aims to provide easy access to the site when it will be used as a venue during the 2028 Olympic games, which Los Angeles is hosting across a series of scattered regional sites and facilities that will include the new stadium complex. *Correction: This story incorrectly reported that 3,000 housing units were being built in conjunction with the development; The correct figure is 2,500 units. 
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Mind the Gap

Renderings revealed for COOKFOX's latest St. John's Terminal scheme
New renderings have been released for the massive redevelopment of Lower Manhattan’s St. John’s Terminal, and a lot has changed since the City Council initially approved the $100-million air rights sale from the adjacent Pier 40 for the project. While a mountain of pixelated residential towers were initially slated to bring nearly 1,600 apartments to the three blocks across from Hudson River Park (30 percent of them affordable), the future of the former rail terminal now appears to be a 12-story office building. The shift is reportedly due in part to a slowdown in New York’s residential market. Canadian developer Oxford Properties, which purchased the southernmost 550 Washington Street site from Westbrook Partners and Atlas Capital for $700 million last year, has retained COOKFOX Architects to transform St. John’s Terminal into high-quality office space. 550 Washington, a low-slung, three-story brick building finished in 1934, will gain a nine-floor topper and most of the original facade will be converted into a thin “envelope” that the glassy base will sit recessed inside of. COOKFOX also plans on blowing out the 1.3-million-square-foot office building’s interior walls and creating open floorplates of up to 100,000 square feet, a hot commodity as tech companies continue to snatch up open office space in Manhattan. The conversion, which under the zoning approval granted in 2016 can proceed as-of-right, will dramatically lighten up the currently-enclosed building by recladding the west-facing side in glass. The 28-foot-tall first and second floors, and 16-foot ceiling heights everywhere else, will both give tenants views across the Hudson River as well as let in plenty of natural light. Referencing the plot’s industrial past, COOKFOX has included steel accents and large multi-mullioned windows but will also be adding a landscaped roof and a large amount of accessible terrace space. Housing isn’t entirely off the table across the rest of the site. Atlas and Westbrook still own the 420,000-square-foot northern portion, and the developers are reportedly looking into building 200 to 230 large, market-rate residential units. Perhaps 150 to 200 units of affordable housing for seniors could also be in the works, but the potential parking garage, recreation center, and existing elevated rail overpass will be scrapped.
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Sign ‘Em If You Got 'Em

Before leaving office, California governor Jerry Brown enacts pro-housing legislation
Long considered an environmental steward and an urban booster, outgoing California governor Jerry Brown has signed a series of pro-density and housing-friendly bills into law as the final legislative session of his last term as governor draws to a close. Among the issues supported by the spate of bills are: efforts to build more densely around transit stations in the San Francisco Bay Area; a desire to enshrine Obama-era federal fair housing guidelines into California law; and plans to force wealthy municipalities to build their fair share of affordable housing. A list of some of the significant legislative gains signed into law by Governor Brown follows: AB 2923 Assembly Bill 2923 settles a long-running battle to give the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) authority a greater degree of control over the land that it owns surrounding its transit stops across the Bay Area region. The land in question is currently subjected to many of the strict density limits imposed by surrounding housing-adverse communities. The enaction of the bill will allow for up to 20,000 new housing units—35 percent of which would be affordable housing—to be built on the roughly 250 acres the authority owns by 2040. In a statement, BART general manager Grace Crunican celebrated the victory by sounding a conciliatory tone. She said, “Although AB2923 directs BART to adopt new transit-oriented development (TOD) zoning standards for each BART station, I want to assure community leaders and residents that BART is committed to continuing our collaborative approach. We have found that working closely with neighborhoods and local elected officials to consider community needs is not only respectful, it's the most efficient way to get the job done.” The measure gives local municipalities two years to update their zoning plans to accommodate the new housing or risk losing all control over BART-associated projects currently under their jurisdiction. AB 686 Assembly Bill 686 would require any housing- and community development–focused public agency to administer its programs and activities in a manner that supports the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) efforts of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The bill represents an effort to enshrine those protections—as well as Obama-era fair housing programs—into California law amid a federal restructuring of fair housing priorities under the current administration. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has referred to AFFH unironically as a “social-engineering scheme” despite the fact that AFFH efforts serve to counter the long-standing legacy of federally-enacted and enforced racial segregation and redlining in American neighborhoods. Secretary Carson is currently working to “reinterpret” AFFH goals, which many racial equity activists have interpreted as an effort to dismantle the guidelines entirely. AB 1771 Assembly Bill 1771 aims to reform California’s Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) law in order to make regional housing planning more data-driven and transparent by ensuring that high-income, job-rich cities plan and zone for affordable housing. The bill represents an effort to force wealthy cities like Beverly Hills and those surrounding San Fransico to plan for additional affordable housing so that existing low-income communities are not solely saddled with the burden of producing more housing. There is an emerging trend showing that these low-income communities have seen concentrated growth in both new market rate and affordable housing, a phenomenon that has fueled displacement and gentrification. AB 1771 aims for an initial and partial fix by beginning to hold wealthy areas responsible for producing their fair share of affordable housing.   SB828 Last but not least, State Bill 828 would reform the methodology California uses when setting local housing goals for the RHNA mentioned above. Moving forward, the state will use several data-based metrics, including the percentage of renter households that are overcrowded and current vacancy rates, to calculate each municipality’s new RHNA goals.  The newly-enacted laws follow several years’ worth of legislative gains for housing advocates in the state. However, the efforts have yet to meaningfully reduce the number of rent-burdened households in the state and have had an even smaller impact on racial segregation or access to homeownership for low-income households. These issues are expected to take center stage for California’s next governor when they take office in 2019 following the November election.