Rhetorically Speaking: Microcosm

The results of the adAPT NYC competition for innovative small-scale housing were announced at the Museum of the City of New York yesterday by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, accompanied by NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua and MCNY President Susan Henshaw Jones.

The winning project, called “My Micro NY,” is the result of a collaboration between nARCHITECTS with Monadnock Construction and the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation. Eric Bunge, AIA, from nARCHITECTS, and Nicholas Lembo from Monadnock were on hand to hear the mayor describe the program, the competition, and why their team had been selected from the field of 33 entries. The adAPT NYC competition was first announced by Mayor Bloomberg at the Center for Architecture on 07.09.12.

The Mayor noted that smaller housing units were needed in New York City because of the imbalance between decreasing household size and an inadequate housing stock better suited to the larger family groups of the past. He said “A million more people will be in New York City by 2030, and the growth rate of smaller households exceeds that of large.” Both the Mayor and Comm. Wambua hoped that the example set by the built project would be easily replicable. One singular aspect of the project selected was the modular construction technology envisioned, with apartment units to be constructed at Capsys’ faciliy in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Nick Lembo spoke of the acoustical advantages of modular construction, given the doubled roof and floor slabs. Susan Henshaw Jones praised the flexibility of the smaller housing units and their broad demographic appeal, saying “The Mayor talked about young people, but I think we should talk about old people too.”

While the pilot project is situated on a city-owned HPD site where the unit size and density requirements of the Zoning Resolution can be readily modified. Bloomberg noted that “if the demand is there, future administrations will be able to change the zoning rules to allow private developers to do this type of unit at many more sites.” The subsequent mutability of the apartments themselves was addressed by Bunge, who added, “We thought of it as a canvas and a tool box in which every apartment dweller will be able to make their own modifications.”

Runners-up included proposals from such distinguished firms as Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, Dattner Architects, Rogers Marvel Architects, and HWKN (Matthias Hollwich, SBA, and Marc Kushner, AIA) with James McCullar Architects. Their work, accompanied by the winning proposal and studies by other architects including Amie Gross, AIA, and Jonathan Kirschenfeld, RA, are on view in the “Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers” exhibition, co-curated by Donald Albrecht, at the Museum of the City of New York. The design by Amie Gross Architects is built, full-size, in this remarkable show.