What’s in a Number?

Amanda Burden, Department of City Planning Director, and Mayor Bloomberg examine a mock layout. Photo: Benjamin Chasteen for The Epoch Times

What do you think of the number 300?  Mayor Michael Bloomberg found the number to be just the right amount of square feet necessary to attract a younger demographic to live in the city.   In a city-sponsored competition entitled adAPT NYC, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is inviting developers to submit proposals for a new construction project in Kips Bay, Manhattan.  The challenge is to design what Bloomberg calls “micro-units”, between 275-250 sqf of living space, complete with a place a kitchen and a bathroom, but no closet is necessary. “Developing housing that matches how New Yorkers live today is critical to the City’s continued growth, future competitiveness and long-term economic success,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “People from all over the world want to live in City, and we must develop a new, scalable housing model that is safe, affordable and innovative to meet their needs.”

More about the competition after the break.

As part of Bloomberg’s larger New Housing Marketplace Plan, the competition will further the City’s leadership in housing innovation and sustainability by fulfilling a 2011 PlaNYC commitment to enable new and expanded housing models to fit the changing population.

Demand in the city is moving away from larger households and moving toward appealing to smaller households of one and two people. In fact, there are 1.8 million one-and two-person households; yet, the city offers only one million studios and one-bedrooms.  Under , New Yorkers will find a new kind of housing choice, and if a successful micro-unit prototype is developed, it may be scaled to other neighborhoods across the City.

“adAPT NYC is a fantastic opportunity to create a model of housing that could be replicated in other locations and contexts to expand New York City’s housing stock,” said HPD Commissioner Wambua. “We’re looking for creativity, affordability, imaginative design and responsiveness to the needs of real New Yorkers. Show us something we haven’t seen before that is ingenious, sustainable, replicable and practical, and we will work with you to make it a reality.”

“We want all these people, but we need to figure out a better way to make room for them and not just leave them to fend for themselves in the underground housing market, which can lead to dangerous conditions or no legal rights,” Jerilyn Perine, executive director of CHPC said.

For this competition, the city’s zoning regulation that prohibits units less than 450 sqf will be waived.  “Young people from around the country or around the world — those are our future, and they don’t have a lot of money,” Mr. Bloomberg said.  “You have to change the rules along with the requirements.”  To balance the shift to a smaller living space, the designer must put extra emphasis into the shared spaces of the structure that will serve as extended social spaces for the residents.

Although the waived apartment size may seem a little suspicious,  the original zoning law was put into play to discourage the  overcrowding of apartments in the 1900s- as these small spaces were often shared by a large family.  Bloomberg explained, “The tenement problem was big families in very small (spaces). We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about one or two people who want something they can afford, and they don’t entertain or need big space.”

“As New York City continues to grow and evolve, our housing stock must do the same,” said Buildings Commissioner LiMandri. “This design competition is a unique opportunity to re-define the way New Yorkers live by creating a new type of housing model that is safe, efficient and affordable. The challenge will be to follow our strict safety standards while providing an innovative design that meets the public’s needs.”

A pre-submission conference will be held on July 31, 2012 at 2 pm at the American Institute of Architects’ Center for Architecture.  And, proposals are due on September 14, 2012at the HPD Office of Development, Division of Planning and Pipeline Development.

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "What’s in a Number?" 11 Jul 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 01 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=253483>