By Zoe Eisenberg
A new exhibit, Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers, opened Tuesday at The Museum of the City of New York, and will run through September 2013.
Organized in conjunction with Citizens Housing & Planning Council (CHPC), Making Room explores how the rise of New York’s single adult population, in addition to other shifting social, economic, and cultural demographics, is dramatically changing the landscape of urban living.
The exhibit focuses on the innovative ways that architecture and design can affect the city’s housing stock, and create smaller living spaces that will be more accommodating to the needs of city dwellers.
The exhibit is based on CHPC’s initiative to compare New York City’s population needs to existing housing stock, taking root after Mayor Bloomberg launched adAPT NYC in July 2012. AdAPT NYC is a pilot program that requested proposals for developing a new model of housing – micro-units. The winning proposal—announced Tuesday—will be constructed on a city-owned site at 335 East 27th Street in Manhattan later this year, with move-in dates estimated for 2015. It will be the city’s first micro-unit apartment building.
Why micro units? Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC report predicted a population increase of one million by 2030, and CHPC’s research indicated that the current available housing stock do not adequately meet the demands of the city’s population, as 33 percent of households consist of a single adult living alone, and an additional 23 percent of households consist of single adults living in shared apartments with unrelated adults.
These numbers show that the current housing stock is ill-suited to fit the needs of over 50 percent of the city’s population, and the current living situations cobbled together by single adults can lead to irregular and often illegal arrangements.
At the exhibit opening, Bloomberg announced the winner of the adAPT NYC Competition: ‘My Micro NY,’ a proposal designed by a development team composed of Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, and nARCHITECTS.
The development team’s ‘My Micro NY’ project will create 55 new micro-units, 40 percent of which will be affordable beyond the competitive market rents, and are designed to optimize space and maximize the sense of openness. The units will measure between 250 and 370 square feet.
“New York’s ability to adapt with changing times is what made us the world’s greatest city – and it’s going to be what keeps us strong in the 21st Century,” said Mayor Bloomberg on Tuesday morning. “The growth rate for one- and two-person households greatly exceeds that of households with three or more people, and addressing that housing challenge requires us to think creatively and beyond our current regulations.”
Bloomberg stated that the new units will “help us adapt to our changing world.”
The micro-units will be innovative not only in design, but in construction. Bloomberg noted that the new units will be the first multi-family building in Manhattan to be built off-site using modular construction. The units will be constructed locally by Capsys at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This, according to Bloomberg, will be faster, safer, less expensive, and will reduce waste and truck pollution.
The Making Room exhibit showcases a variety of the adAPT NYC proposals, as well as other models and drawings of micro-housing initiatives in the U.S. and other countries.
However, the most interactive part of the exhibit is a full-scale, fully furnished micro-unit that viewers can walk through. The 325-square-foot display micro-unit was designed by Italian architect Pierluigi Colombo and constructed by Clei and Resource Furniture on behalf of CHPC.
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