Oculus - Fall 2015 - (Page 21)

opener Affordability: Many Paths to a Solution T he Sugar Hill Apartments - a striking new tower in Harlem designed by Adjaye Associates, with SLCE Architects as architect-of-record - attracted 48,000 applicants last year for its 124 affordable units. This was not an anomaly. Housing organizations estimate that the 2,500 new apartments created last year through New York City affordable housing programs drew 1.5 million applications, a placement rate of only 3.2%. The number of applicants is unsurprising as the rent for a one-bedroom apartment rises to an average of $3,000 per month. With the development of a typical apartment costing around $300,000, the public financing that supports Sugar Hill and other developments is nowhere near adequate to solve the problem solely through building more housing units. This is especially true in a time where stagnating wages and escalating development costs will require increasing amounts of public subsidy. So how do the millions of us not getting those coveted apartments survive the current housing crisis? Where do we live - and how? Typically, we design our own affordability. We drive until we qualify for a mortgage, whether that takes us to Yonkers or the Poconos. We move back in with parents after college, or into a garage, a basement, a van, or - in the most extreme circumstances - a shelter. News stories tell of immigrants sleeping in shifts in partitioned apartments, and families forgoing heat or food to keep a roof over their heads. These survival tactics only go so far. In addition to the subsidies and incentives that create affordable units, New York and countless other cities need to develop an array of strategies that promote affordability. There isn't a single solution to the housing crisis. Instead, we must deploy multiple strategies in concert to create many paths to affordability; together, these approaches can bolster ecosystems for equitable housing provision This is the subject of "Designing Affordability," a new exhibition on view at the Center for Architecture from October 1 through January 2016. Using examples from across the U.S. and around the world, the exhibit shows more than 20 strategies employed by architects, designers, engineers, and planners to lower the cost of housing by changing the ways we design, build, finance, and maintain our dwellings. Home Game: Winning with Housing We can start by reimagining public housing, an asset that New York City has in abundance. In Bordeaux, France, Paris-based Lacaton & Vassal is reskinning, daylighting, and reconfiguring large tower complexes in such a way that tenants remain in place, showing how rethinking public housing does not have to mean displacement or demolition. The Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Bridge Park are leveraging public assets to support new housing as well as neighborhood amenities. nARCHITECTS is constructing modular micro units with ample public space for a new generation of renters on East 27th Street. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Esquire Building sold semi-raw spaces, allowing owners to build incrementally, as their finances allow. Innovative design in Haiti creates incremental developments allowing for income generation through home-based businesses or accessory units. Engineers at MIT are devising systems that create the functionality of 800 square feet in half the space, using sensors and actuators. Larry Sass of MIT's Digital Design Fabrication Group is 3-D printing building components. In some cases it is how we live that is changing: this applies to co-housing in Portland, OR, and accessory dwelling units in the Bay Area that help us age in place. On Roosevelt Island, Handel Architects has designed the tallest residential building in the world that will meet rigorous Passive House standards [see pg. 29]. Studies show that buildings of this type can improve health and reduce utility costs by as much as 90%. There are eight million stories in the naked city, and many of these are about how the rent is too damn high. Individuals and families will continue to pursue affordability tactics as we wait for that designated unit in the sky. In the meantime, we can call on planners and policymakers, developers and architects, engineers and builders to deploy and replicate strategies for designing affordability. ©COOKFOX Architects B Y M A R C N O RMA N City Point, COOKFOX Architects, page 26 What's Inside 22 Housing for the 99% 26 Tower Power 29 An Active Market for Passive 33 Ahead of the Class 34 It Takes a Village 38 Support System, Modular Style 39 From Learning to Living 40 The DIY Approach to Housing Marc Norman has more than 20 years of experience in affordable housing, having worked for non-profit and for-profit developers, lenders, and investors. Curator of "Designing Affordability" at the Center for Architecture, opening October 1, 2015, he recently completed a Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Fall 2015 Oculus 21 http://http://

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2015

First Words Letter From the President
Letter From the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: Affordability: Many Paths to a Solution
Housing for the 99%
Tower Power
An Active Market for Passive
Ahead of the Class
It Takes a Village
Support System, Modular Style
From Learning to Living
The DIY Approach to Housing
In Print
118-Year Watch
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Fall 2015

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