City calls on architects to design innovative affordable housing on super small lots

Posted On Mon, February 4, 2019 By

Posted On Mon, February 4, 2019 By In affordable housing, Design

The city hopes to develop affordable housing on this lot at 829 Freeman Street in the Bronx; via Google Street View

The city is calling on architects to help design innovative affordable housing on irregularly-shaped lots, the New York Times reported Monday. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development will launch a design competition, along with the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, seeking ideas for housing on 23 unusually small or narrow lots across the city. The program, called Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC, was first announced by the city last year and falls under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious Housing New York 2.0 plan.


Design entries must address this tiny lot in Harlem; via HPD

“Home to world-class architects and design professionals, New York City has long been a laboratory for innovation,” Maria Torres-Springer, the commissioner of HPD, said in a press release.

“With this competition, we’re tapping into the creativity and expertise of the design community–the best and the brightest– to spark big ideas for some of the city’s smallest and most challenging to develop lots.”

Part of the HNY 2.0 plan involves creating affordable housing on city-owned land that is vacant or underutilized. Last February, the department announced it would hire nine development teams to build 490 affordable homes on 87 vacant lots through its New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program and Neighborhood Construction Program.

The remaining inventory includes small lots that remain difficult to develop because of their size. Finding affordable housing solutions on those unusual properties, as well as exploring innovative small-scale design, is the goal behind the Big Ideas for Small Lots contest.

There are two stages of the competition, with the first an open design call for submissions addressing the lot at West 136th Street in Harlem. The site’s area measures slightly over 1,660 square feet, with just 17 feet of frontage. A spokesperson for the program told the Times that the site was selected because of its challenges, which include its width and limited sunlight.

Due March 24, entries should create a design for residential use that can be replicated across various sites. After being judged by a panel of nine jurors, selected finalists will be given a $3,000 stipend, the chance to participate in workshops, and be featured in an exhibition hosted by AIA New York at the Center for Architecture.

HPD will select one or more development proposals submitted in the second phase to be developed on city-owned land. Sites designated for development will be announced in November of 2019.

“AIANY hopes that addressing these vacancies will elevate the experience of the entire block, catalyzing other communities to do the same,” Hayes Slade, the 2019 president of AIA, said in a statement. “Soliciting ideas via this competition will create new opportunities for diverse firms to participate and allow the city to benefit from their talent and innovation.”

[Via NY Times]

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