A residential development in downtown Minneapolis is set to give the city its first woonerf, a road type developed in the Netherlands that integrates vehicle traffic and parking with pedestrians, bicyclists and public amenities. The BKV Architects–designed Mill City Quarter housing breaks ground later this year, starting with a six-story building that will include up to 150 rental housing units priced to be affordable for those making 60 percent of the metropolitan median income or less. Later phases will add more units, say developers Wall Cos. and Lupe Development Partners, including 45 units for those with memory problems and 105 for assisted and independent living. Taking up the block at the northwest corner of 2nd Street and 3rd Avenue, the development hopes to connects the Mill District—home to the popular riverside Mill City Museum, Guthrie Theater, and soon a massive mixed-use development in the shadow of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium—with the rehabbed warehouses and thriving cultural scene of the North Loop neighborhood. Bisecting that block is a former rail corridor leading toward Mississippi River trails and a riverside visitor center that Minneapolis' Park Board has proposed for just downstream of the 3rd Avenue Bridge. Mill City Quarter's developers have agreed to make that side street into a woonerf with 80 diagonal parking spaces flanking colored pavement demarcating reduced-speed vehicle traffic, green space, bike lanes and pedestrian zones. Minneapolis' Park Board approved plans for the “amenity-rich plaza street,” through the $73.8 million development, but expressed concerns over developer and former City Council member Steve Minn's plans to install a gate at the park end of the woonerf, which he said he'd keep closed during park off-hours, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. By exempting the development from a new parks law that would require them to donate land to public space, the Park Board gave their agreement some teeth—if the developers restrict public access to the land they could be on the hook for $61,400.
Posts tagged with "Affordable Housing":
Last year, at an event inside David Adjaye’s Sugar Hill affordable housing development in Manhattan, AN asked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio how architecture and design factored into his overall housing plan. The mayor—who doesn’t elevate public design the way Michael Bloomberg did—said he wants to see new affordable housing buildings that are both “beautiful” and “contextually appropriate.” But, he added, design is about more than aesthetics, it is a tool to be wielded to create dynamic, mixed-use properties. “I think the design question really is about, to me, the functionality—meaning, what we can achieve in a site,” said the mayor. Now, roughly eight months later, the Department of City Planning (DCP) has unveiled zoning changes to make it easier and cheaper to develop the type of affordable housing the mayor was talking about—buildings with function and architectural design. And by rewriting the rules, the de Blasio administration thinks it has a better shot at delivering the 120,000 new units of affordable housing it has promised. First, the city addresses burdensome parking requirements for affordable and senior housing developments. Within a so-called “Transit Zone”—areas in Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens that have good access to mass transit—the city will eliminate parking requirements for senior housing and low-income or inclusionary housing developments. And, on a “case-by-case” basis within this zone, the city could slash parking minimums for new mixed-income buildings. Outside of the zone, the city says it will “simplify or reduce” parking requirements for affordable housing and senior housing. On the design front, the city hopes that updating “Contextual Zoning” controls from 1987 will give rise to less generic housing.“The tightness of contextual zoning controls constrain housing production and raise costs, and too often results in buildings that are flat and relate poorly to the street,” the DCP said in its report. A lot has changed in the AEC world since the 1980s and the city wants to allow designers and builders to take full advantage of all their new tricks and tools. This could mean more buildings like The Stack (above), a modular building in Inwood that was designed by Gluck+ and assembled in less than a year. The city is not touching existing floor-to-area (FAR) ratio limits with this proposal, but hopes that by loosening zoning controls and boosting height limits (between 5–15 feet in medium and high density areas), developers can take better advantage of allowed buildable space; current limits tend to force developers to produce boxy, boring buildings. "To fit full FAR," explained the DCP, "ceiling heights are reduced, building facade is flat and upper‐story layouts are awkward.” Boosting height limits would also open up more interesting massing and programmatic options with possible building setbacks and courtyards, and ground-floor retail and community spaces. As for building facades, the DCP only lays out some vague bullet points about how it will "update and clarify regulations to support traditional types of building variation” and “make transparency and design requirements consistent" for ground floor spaces. While this package of proposals has the potential—again, the potential—to create more architecturally interesting buildings, it is ultimately a means to make it easier to build and develop affordable and senior housing. The DCP expects to kick off a public review of its plan this summer.
Preservation projects took home top honors during the architectural portion of this year's Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA), exemplifying humanistic design in the too-often overlooked arenas of affordable housing and community development. Established by the Local Initiatives Support Corp. of Chicago (LISC), the CNDA honor achievements in real estate development and design at the community scale—an issue that's taken on some local political significance as challengers to Mayor Rahm Emanuel slam him for neglecting neighborhood development ahead of municipal elections on February 24. The CNDA ceremony was apolitical, however, with Emanuel himself offering a statement ahead of the awards: “When we think about the City of Chicago, we think of more than just downtown–we think of the historic neighborhoods, the diverse families and the vibrant culture that have come to define us.” Emanuel's deputy mayor attended the ceremony in his stead. CNDA presented three Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design. First place went to the transformation of the Diplomat Hotel into Fred and Pamela Buffett Place, an affordable housing rehab that salvaged an aging SRO in the Lakeview neighborhood. Landon Bone Baker Architects—the team behind similar work at Harvest Commons and on the former site of Cabrini Green's high-rise public housing—recycled old-growth fir for custom benches in the lobby, sprucing up the art deco mid-rise with a green roof and art installations. Weese Langley Weese took second for their conversion of an Albert Kahn auto showroom into Grove Apartments, a winningly modest affordable housing development that enhances walkability in what was once Oak Park's “motor row.” Bronzeville Artist Lofts won third place at the awards for its efforts to revitalize a once humming commercial corridor on the city's near South Side. The 47th Street lofts boast handsome timber beams and dramatic live-work spaces that lend themselves well to a modern, affordable housing rehab. Wrap Architecture revived the 1906 structure, previously Borden's dairy, precluding its demolition. Browse the full list of winners—which includes nods to the Shops and Lofts at 47 and successful efforts to name the historic Pullman neighborhood a national monument—on LISC's website.
Airbnb, the hugely popular apartment rental site, has managed to amass a broad coalition of detractors in New York including developers, the State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the New York City Council, and affordable housing advocates. The main line of attack being levied against Airbnb is that it is making New York City's affordability crisis even worse. Critics claim that building owners and savvy real estate types are kicking out rent-paying tenants and turning their apartments into quasi hotel rooms. This, they say, is further reducing the city's limited housing supply and driving up prices. On the legal side of things, a report from the state's attorney general found that nearly 75 percent of Airbnb listings in New York City broke some sort of law. Airbnb did not dispute these findings largely because the attorney general's office was going off of numbers they provided after being subpoenaed. At the time, though, a spokesperson for Airbnb told the New York Times that they wanted "some sensible rules that stop bad actors and protect regular people who simply want to share the home in which they live.” That is, more or less, the Airbnb defense: Yes, there are people taking advantage of the site, but for the most part we give hard-working folks a way to put money in their pocket. That claim is now being directly challenged by Murray Cox, a former software engineer who lives in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. He has launched a website called Inside Airbnb that offers tools for the public to sift through all of Airbnb's publicly available data. This, Cox said, helps expose what are essentially hoteliers renting out many apartments at once. Two hosts, for example, were found to be listing 28 units each. Inside Airbnb also found that nearly 60 percent of New York City listings are legally questionable because they cover entire homes. (In New York, it is illegal to rent out an apartment for less than 30 days if a permanent resident is not present). As mentioned earlier, Airbnb hopes to change laws like these. In the meantime, Airbnb makes the case that it's helping the little guy, writing on its blog that 87 percent of users rent out the home they live in. Cox isn't buying it. "Once you look at the data, you can pretty easily see that that's not the case," he told USA Today. "A high proportion of the listings are highly available." As to be expected, Airbnb is pretty critical of Cox's site. In a statement to Verge, Airbnb said: "We never comment on public scrapes of our information, because, like here, these scrapes use inaccurate information to make misleading assumptions about our community. Thousands of regular New Yorkers are using Airbnb everyday to help make ends meet. That's why it is so important that we fix local laws to allow people to share the home in which they live."
The de Blasio Administration has unveiled new details for one of the most significant pieces of its ambitious affordable housing plan: the rezoning of Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood. As New York YIMBY reported, the administration announced that it would “upzone” a stretch of Atlantic Avenue to create what it calls a “growth corridor” that could accommodate residential development up to 12 stories. Moderate density development for surrounding blocks is proposed to support “affordable and mixed-income housing, retail, businesses, and community facilities near transit.” On smaller-scale side streets, the administration hopes to preserve the neighborhood’s existing character by continuing to allow “low scale duplexes, single-family homes and rowhouses.”
Affordable housing has been a critical part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s agenda since taking office, promising to create or preserve 200,000 affordable units over the next decade. At a press conference last week, the mayor announced that his administration has made headway toward achieving this ambitious goal, financing over 17,300 affordable homes in the last year (whether his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, should have received some credit for this accomplishment has spurred debate). But even with this good news, the demand for affordable housing continues to grow. To help fix this shortage, the administration might want to take a cue from Dutch developer, Heijmans ONE, which has come up with its own win-win idea for alleviating the housing crunch in the Netherlands: putting vacant land to good use with temporary, portable housing. Heijmans ONE designed a one-bedroom prefab house that can be easily assembled in just one day. The house, which rents for 700 euros or $900, kills two birds with one stone: provides an affordable dwelling and activates empty land while construction is stalled on a project. These sleek, pentagonal-shaped homes are designed to have a small carbon footprint, using sustainable wood and solar panels. Once constructed, the house can be connected to the city’s water and sewage, but also designed to operate off the grid. New York City, with its paucity of affordable housing and glut of vacant land, could benefit from this model. Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Housing Preservation & Development have already started rolling out a plan to develop over a 1,000 city-owned properties. In the meantime, why not bring some temporary, affordable housing to sites waiting for long-term development?
Forget about San Francisco being the hardest place to rent in California. According to a story in the New York Times (citing zillow.com), Angelenos spend 47 percent of their income on the median rent. That’s the highest in the country, and significantly higher than San Francisco, which ranks sixth on the list at 40.7 percent. And the problem appears ready to get worse as new supply struggles to keep up with demand in the overcrowded city. Maybe we’ll all have to move to Bakersfield.
Home Matters, a national movement dedicated to raising awareness about the need for affordable housing, has launched a competition called "Re-defining Home: A Design Challenge." As the name suggests, the competition (partnered with AIA chapters around the country, and funded in part by the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation) seeks to re-define the home of the future, with a focus on solutions for affordability and a new conception of home, beyond “four walls.” Architects and designers are being asked to improve connections between housing and surrounding communities, considering how housing impacts health, education, individual success, public safety, and economic growth. Calling itself the first competition to focus on affordable housing and its social implications on a national scale, Re-defining Home was structured with input from experts from affordable housing, architecture, cognitive science, medicine, and environmentalism. The Home Matters organization was launched in 2013 in an effort to “redefine the American Dream,” drawing attention to the nation’s housing crisis and the importance of home as part of a broader social fabric. Awards totaling $18,000 will be given to three juried submissions. A multidisciplinary jury will be announced soon. The first place winner will be presented at a public exhibition—details forthcoming. Registration opened on December 2 and closes on May 1.
This morning, Greenland Forest City Partners broke ground on 535 Carlton Avenue—the second tower to rise at Pacific Park in Brooklyn, the development formerly known as Atlantic Yards. The COOKFOX-designed masonry tower will rise 18 stories and include nearly 300 affordable units: 50 percent middle-income, 20 percent moderate, and 30 percent low-income. COOKFOX is also designing the nearby 550 Vanderbilt, a market-rate condo tower that is expected to get underway shortly. An eight-acre, Thomas Balsley–designed park—called "Pacific Park"—will run between these two towers, replacing what is currently a surface-level parking lot. Today's groundbreaking also came with the unveiling of a glossy new website for Pacific Park and some new renderings of 535 Carlton, seen below.
Demolition of the graffiti mecca known as “5Pointz” in Long Island City, Queens has become a flashpoint in New York City development. The iconic arts institution was literally whitewashed by the developer last spring and has since been turned to rubble to make way for two rental towers. As the controversial project continues in Queens, the destruction of another world-renowned graffiti forum, just a few miles away in the South Bronx, has gone largely unnoticed. The graffiti-covered walls of Boone Avenue are currently being demolished to make way for a massive housing development. For decades, some of the world's most respected street artists came to this desolate, industrial stretch, turning warehouses into canvases. The result was a constantly-evolving public gallery, curated by Cope2, a living legend in the street art world. But, let's be clear, this is not the same story as 5Pointz—the new development will not be luxury towers, but much-needed affordable housing. Still, the loss of a cultural institution is the loss of a cultural institution. Since the city broke ground on the development, a coalition of artists, architects, and students has formed to preserve as much of the site's history as it can. The project is called The Boone Room and its being run by SLO Architecture, the Bronx River Art Center, and students from Fannie Lou Hamer High School in the Bronx, and The New School in Manhattan. Last spring, students conducted video interviews with local artists and photographed existing work as part of an online exhibition that will go live in January. To create new, permanent street art in the neighborhood, artists, under the curatorship of Cope2, were commissioned to paint an interior wall of the Fannie Lou Hamer High School. The team behind The Boone Room has also worked with the developer to preserve some of Boone Avenue's colorful, roll-down gates which are being repurposed into a canopy for a performance space outside of the Bronx River Art Center. When AN recently visited Boone Avenue, local artist and resident David Yearwood, was working on what's known as Boone Avenue's "practice wall.” (This wall is expected to be demolished by a later stage in the development.) “Doing art in the neighborhood is a hard thing to do,” said Yearwood. “I’ve got a lot of friends that don’t like art, so you’ve got to find things to do get out of the neighborhood.” So Boone Avenue is where Yearwood comes, almost every single day. Finding somewhere else like Boone won’t be easy. "It’s basically a rough life right now for a lot of people,” he said. “There’s nowhere else to go.”
What is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's position on design and public space? Does he care about design or think it is simply a prerogative of the city’s middle class populations? It is one the conundrums of the current administration that it wants to create 200,000 units of affordable housing but does not seem to care about the architecture of the buildings or or how they might affect their surrounding neighborhoods. There is much that is laudable in the mayor's push for new affordable housing, but will all this new construction be a step back from the progressive attitude of the Bloomberg administration concerning the physical and spatial aspects of the city? These issues—and others of great concern to the city's design community—will be the topic of discussion tonight at the AIANY's Center for Architecture on LaGuardia Place in a panel discussion called "A Changing Landscape: Public Space and the New Administration." The principal presenters are all architects and landscape designers closely involved in current city projects and proposals for the future: —Susannah Drake of dlandstudio. —Gonzalo V. Cruz of AECOM Landscape Architecture Studio. —Adam Yarinsky of Architecture Research Office. They all have their own positions and thoughts on city government, public policy, and urban design so the roundtable will be a highly entertaining event. I will be moderating the panel and keeping it lively and on point. It starts at 6:00p.m. (More info here.) See you tonight!
Architectural competitions with substantial cash prizes tend to focus on monuments, museums, and other high-brow concerns. Such is not the case for Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce. Sponsored by The California Endowment, a Los Angeles–based private health organization, Breaking New Ground targets the gap between the people who come to the Eastern Coachella Valley to play and those who keep its $4 billion agriculture and tourism industries running. Home to resort communities including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Rancho Mirage, the Eastern Coachella Valley lacks affordable housing for the permanent and seasonal workers who harvest its crops and staff the local service industry. With annual salaries of just $15,000–$30,000, workers and their families are forced to live on the streets, in cars, or in one of more than 100 unpermitted mobile home parks, without access to adequate heat, hot water, sanitation, or ventilation. Breaking New Ground will offer a total of $350,000 in unrestricted awards, including prizes for four finalists in each of the Open and Student categories. The jury will evaluate submissions based not just on physical design, but also on their economic, social, and regulatory aspects, such as: market feasibility, the provision of integrated social services, and proposed policy changes. The competition will be based on an existing 9.4-acre vacant site, selected by the County of Riverside for competition purposes only. Though Breaking New Ground is a design and ideas competition, “The California Endowment does intend to fund a project inspired by the competition entries,” said Colin Drukker of PlaceWorks, the competition’s lead project coordinator. “Winning entries will not be guaranteed a chance to participate in a potential construction project, but they will obviously have an advantage in any subsequent RFP.” The competition begins October 21, with online registration open sooner. The first round will conclude December 19, at which point the jury will select four winners from the Student category as well as four finalists from the Open Category. The second round, to begin January 22, will conclude with live presentations and a celebration March 30–31. (All dates are subject to change until registration opens.)