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18 Thema Affordable Housing in New York Bauwelt 10 | 2012 Bauwelt 10 | 2012


Ground floor plans and building
sections at 1:750 (1” = 62’)

Six sites, unattractive for tra- 614 Marcy Avenue, Brooklyn
ditional residential use, were
developed for supportive Client
housing. Services for the Underserved

Site plans not to scale. Program
Photos: Paul Warchol, Rod- 50 studios for formerly homeless
rigo Pereda, Pedro Pulido (2),
Jason Gibbs, Philippe Bau- Construction cost and year
mann $7,968,000 (2004)

Marcy Avenue
Hart Street

2330 Bronx Park East, Bronx

Postgraduate Center for Mental Health


Restoring the Urban Dream 68 studios and supportive services for men-
tally ill and formerly homeless

Construction cost and year
Through precise and formally strict interventions, Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architects create dignified housing for the $11,977,000 (2010)
underserved. What are the larger implications for the revival of urban space?

Text David Grahame Shane

Aldo Rossi in the Architecture of the City (1966 Italian, 1984 Eng- his clients, their difficult geometries having rendered them
Bronx Park East
lish) made a distinction between the great collective monu- difficult to market or build on. His clients are non-profit orga-
ments of the community and the everyday living spaces of the nizations dedicated to providing services and permanent
citizenry, the urban fabric. Both urban systems represented a housing to special-needs populations such as the mentally ill,
collective memory but at different scales. Both systems in formerly homeless, or people living with HIV. The construc- 1401 Teller Avenue, Bronx
Rossi’s view were shared morphological codes that gave the tion of this so-called supportive housing is largely funded by
city its character. With industrialization and scientific knowl- federal, state, and municipal agencies. New York City zoning
Postgraduate Center for Mental Health

Teller Avenue
edge many of the earlier craft traditions were lost, but the tra- code regulates this housing not as Use Group R2 / Residential, Urban Pathways
ditional forms became collective archetypes, memories sym- applied to most forms of housing, but as Use Group R3 / Com-
bolic of place and culture. In the recent work of Jonathan munity Facilities, which includes not only supportive housing
43 studios and supportive services for men-
Kirschenfeld Architects these archetypes reappear as inspira- but other forms of housing managed by non-profit or govern- tally ill and formerly homeless
tions for a surreal and courageous recreation of a lost urbanity mental organizations such as student dormitories, housing for
Construction cost and year
exploiting to the maximum the local codes and conditions. the elderly, or hospital staff accomodations.
$8,453,000 (2011)
Kirschenfeld’s designs play on a deep knowledge of the Requirements of Use Group R3 and Use Group R2 differ
housing typologies of New York and the codes that created significantly. First, for Use Group R3 there is no minimum
these archetypes. Kirschenfeld skips the evolution of the tene- dwelling unit size (even if in practice minimum room dimen-
ment blocks and prefers the courtyard, u-shaped and other pe- sions result from the application of accessibility requirements
rimeter block typologies that flowered in the 1920’s and and other guidelines). Second, there is no parking require-
1930’s, often with moderne or art deco styling in the lower ment. Third, there are no density rules limiting the number of
cost outer boroughs like Brooklyn and the Bronx. The office units per building. Finally, the minimum courtyard dimen-
East 170th Street
builds on unusual, irregular, residual infill sites selected for sion is only 20 feet (6.60 m) as opposed to the 30 feet (9.10 m)

Mailboxes. It is only due to the fact a big house. floor patterns mark the entrance to each apartment. replicating his vision of the city in decept. Marks Avenue. organizational hierarchy. upwardly mobile bour. In some schemes support services occupy the second floor. creating a new.558. a fluid networked generation left out of New York Supportive housing is governed by codes City’s current housing equation. There. Urban Pathways detail: Floor tiling and ceiling coves articulate the entry se. and recycling rooms cluster apply to the needs of the general public. housing of the underprivileged suddenly takes center stage on 55 studios for mentally ill and formerly the Grand Concourse to serve a new. These micro moves would in- Construction cost and year $10. Urban Design Since 1945. but gifts that enrich the life of the great city Construction cost and year $16. creating a network of small. gi- ving each space a quiet dig­nity. (as recently noted by the New York Times). placed at the disposal of those most fragile and at risk in the Program family housing. Postgraduate Center for Mental Health buildings on sites deemed undevelopable by builders of multi. Client cent Loosian window facing the park). tive. Kir- ncou standard to ensure security. culminating in a double height common room In this Rossian urban fantasy of bottom-up infill building. as at Bronx Park East (marked by a magnifi. urban.20 Thema Affordable Housing in New York Bauwelt 10 | 2012 Bauwelt 10 | 2012 21 Ground floor plans and building sections at 1:750 (1“ = 62‘) required in residential construction. In a surreal twist the infill Program quence in the front halls with small bench alcoves by the el. Common Ground Community chen and a full bathroom. He is the ble in these infill micro-sites. homeless geoisie. offering a new. The Times placed side the building. Team R8 converted the boulevard into a Bedford Park Blvd. the only way to place ope- nings on the property boundary. and their midpoint is Program 54 studios and one-bedroom units for for- marked by a resident lounge. Kalwall-insulated fiberglass panels Construction cost and year $20. reflecting the best in the city’s urban morphology.000 (2012) vigorate the city and Grand Concourse from within and from that allow Kirschenfeld to realize innovative the bottom-up. like a magician. Kirschenfeld’s work in the context of the “Making Room” initia- ively simple plans. Kirschenfeld’s strict. This is a great achievement. a Global Perspective Client which are generally composed of studios. In this case the house is elegantly and economic. generating complex sections and massing. as at Marcy Avenue or tree-lined public space like Barcelona’s Ramblas. mentally ill. homeless wonderful monuments to a hidden safety net. Brooklyn author of Recombinant Urbanism (2005) and gle. Attention is given to walks and center lanes from cars. the Belmont Avenue and a roof terrace. local netizens return from the cold to reclaim the side. Marks Avenue cient Alberti dictum that a house is a small city and the city . hyper-flexible Existenz- minimum dwelling type to the currently endangered ‘creative courtyard solutions on irregular infill sites. Double-loaded corridors have win- dows at both ends where possible. Along the upper corridors. Marks. Bronx the top floor.” made the case for extending rse erally gives onto the bank of elevators and stairs leading up.000 (2012) Kirschenfeld provides a remarkably civilized public realm in. schenfeld. courageous. proves extremely flexi. in the first case. David Grahame Shane | is an adjunct profes- from public to semi-public to private. Even within each unit. draw a sketch of a new Hughes Avenue evator entrances. by fixed lot-line windows with sprinkler heads directly above. Sin- merly homeless. level. and more flexible future urbanism. Kir- schenfeld manages to center a room with ceiling coves. class’ whose participation is crucial for the city’s future. (2011). as at Teller Avenue and at St. are daylit by. 1501 St.and double-loaded corridors on the residential floors. proposing four new around the elevator cores. opening up to a courtyard garden. Out of New York’s collective morphological unconscious.290. 2950 Grand Concourse. working as “Team R8. Common rooms – little town squares buildings with mixed-income populations on the Grand Con- for meetings or dining – are typically located on the ground course in the Bronx. Kirschen- feld and Team R8. the logic (and the existent R3 code) underlying his housing to stairs. Kirschenfeld employs both sin. a larger effort to revise New York City’s building codes to Gran d Co At the city gate a doorman-concierge station at the entrance is allow for housing that responds to current needs. Hughes Avenue. or the sequence of public rooms continues up to Subsistence Dwellings for the ‘Creative Class’ 1974 Hughes Avenue. in the second case. city. wired. Bronx that supportive housing is governed by these more liberal ally embedded deep with the protective matrix of codes and re- Client codes that Kirschenfeld is able to revisit archetypes and realize gulations. The work of Kirschenfeld’s office demonstrates the an- St. ceiling coves and emergent urbanism beyond Rossi’s wildest dreams. laundry rooms. another mini urban marker. and a waiting area behind gen. seniors gle-loaded corridors. while making clever plan moves to secure excellent corner rooms with windows in two directions if the site permits. new. almost invisible The House is a City and hardly known.000 (2011) and. each with a full kit. sor of urban design at Columbia University and the Cooper Union in New York.111. 76 studios for mentally ill and fmly.