Commercial Architecture May 2017 - 6
Right. artHAUS is a collection of 25 smartly designed urban
dwellings located in midtown Phoenix. Its architectural character consists of simple yet bold forms organized around interconnected semi-private resident courtyards.
Below. The George project comfortably brings together eight
single-family attached units on a 1/3-acre site, arranged in
two groups of four units. The $3.5-million project offers familyoriented amenities, outdoor space, and second-floor decks.
Tactical Infill Adds Multifamily Value
Carefully designed, smaller-scale housing and mixed-use projects are needed in diverse,
thriving cities such as Phoenix, where most developers suffer from thinking big.
Jason Boyer, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Principal
ne of the missing links in many U.S. cit-
don't belong in some residential and mixed-zoned
el energy efficiency to reduce cooling costs and al-
ies is the need for new infill housing and
areas. Instead, create welcoming places that connect
low ample natural daylight.
mixed-use developments-smaller, neigh-
with the neighborhood surroundings, include varie-
* Balance living areas with openness, community.
borhood-scaled buildings that help fill in the gaps in
gated facades paired with clean lines, organized
Today's housing and mixed-use residential develop-
many urban blocks. In places such as Phoenix, Las
around indoor/outdoor connections to courtyards
ments need spacious common areas. Buyers and
Vegas, Dallas, and Houston, these small- and medi-
where residents come together as a community.
renters expect these amenities. Plus, to create a more
elegant and enjoyable living experience, the build-
Instead, we're left with gap-toothed blocks that lack
* Mix up the program. The best developments are
walkable, integrating secure onsite parking, live-
continuity and grace. Smart, friendly infill projects
work options for today's modern life, and connec-
a balance of enclosed spaces, open areas, and out-
not only make economic use of those gaps, but they
tions to food retail and cultural uses through onsite
also make our cities more walkable, livable, vibrant,
street level activation and/or neighborhood site se-
It's all about balance-an idea embodied by the
um-scale buildings are missing from the cityscape.
ing should provide a presence on the street and then
lection and community partnerships. The key is to
concept of Ma, a Japanese term acknowledging the
Consider Phoenix, where Studio Ma is based. The
identify sites within emerging neighborhoods where
dynamic relationship between objects and their sur-
local economic outlook is very strong and, last time
you can connect to the city fabric wherever possible.
rounding environment. CA
we checked, there were 10,500 housing units in development and 23,000 being planned. According to the
* Live artfully. Great architecture should be available
to everyone. Good design needn't be costly. Plus,
market research firm Yardi Systems Inc., Scottsdale,
the living experience should emphasize beauty, nat-
AZ, citywide rents rose 5.9% in 2016, beating the U.S.
ural light, and comfort. (That's why one of our sem-
average. Overall occupancy steadied at 95.2%. Also ac-
inal developments is called artHAUS. See more at
cording to Yardi, "home ownership is now less costly
HAUSphx.com.) Not many multifamily projects
than renting in Phoenix."
win AIA awards, but some of these smaller-scale
The time is ripe for developers to build new condo-
projects such as the George and PRD 845 have won
miniums and apartments. Yet many prime lots remain
awards while offering an attainable architectur-
empty since the 2008 recession. While construction
al-quality living experience to residents.
Jason Boyer, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a leading practitioner in
commercial and institutional architecture and campus projects.
Founder of real estate development firm artHAUS, Phoenix
(arthausphx.com), he is a principal and project leader at the
national firm Studio Ma, Phoenix (stuidoma.com), the current
AIA Arizona Firm of the Year.
financing is expensive and hard to obtain and many
* Build for efficiency and resiliency. It may add
cities suffer from flawed speculation on land values
modestly to the budget, but operational costs are
and market absorption, there are many reasons to
often the biggest challenge for property owners and
Learn more about infill-type mixed-use projects
build-and build better-on these small lots.
landlords. Plus, the market will often bear better and
and the role they can play in urban environments
more durable offerings. An example is Hollyhock,
in our interview with Studio Ma's Jason Boyer at
* Watch the scale. Too many developers want big sites
an 11-unit development under construction in the
and huge pro-formas with hundreds of units. These
Arcadia area of Phoenix that uses Passive House-lev-
Here are five factors to consider:
COMMERCI A L A RCHI T EC T URE