Kasia Mychajlowycz, a journalist living in New York City, is guest author of this post.
Manhattan’s first apartment building made up entirely of prefabricated, modular “micro-units” is the winning development for the city’s adAPT NYC competition, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today at a press conference held at the Museum of the City of New York’s newest exhibition, exploring tiny apartment design in the big city. He explains:
“This adAPT competition as we called it, was aimed at addressing a fundamental imbalance; while there are about 1.2 million one- and two-person households in the city, there are only about 1 million studio and one-bedroom apartments. Addressing this challenge requires us to think outside the box, and as it were, outside the current zoning regulations… Those limits were created decades ago for a different time and a very different population.”
AdAPT was called a “pilot project” which, if successful, would lead scrapping zoning regulations limiting unit density and minimum size of apartments, paving the way for more micro-units across the city. The building, with its grey-toned brick and three-tiered setback, will be built on East 27th St. in the Kips Bay neighborhood in Manhattan.
The development team, made up of nARCHITECTS, a New York City-based architecture firm, Monadnock Development LLC, and the non-profit Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, named their project “My Micro NY.” The new building will have 55 micro-units, measuring between 250 and 370 square feet. Each unit will be pre-fabricated by Capsys at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and snapped together like Legos at the city-owned lot.
Each micro-unit has what nARCHITECTS calls a “canvas” and a “toolbox” area. The canvas is an open space to be used as both the living room and the bedroom; the toolbox includes a 70-cubic-foot kitchen, an accessible bathroom and shower, a closet and a “liner storage loft” with a built-in ladder tucked in above the kitchen. Although the building shirks zoning regulations regarding size and density, the units are fully accessible and meet the building code in every other way.
Twenty-two units will be rented at lower-than-market rates; Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua said the lowest rent is set at $940 per month, and applicant will be put in a lottery. The rest will go for “whatever the market can bear,” he said. The City is selling the land to Monadnock Development for $500,000, but the project’s overall cost wasn’t available.
The Museum of the City of New York’s new exhibit, Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers, runs from today through September 15th. The exhibit includes five designs commissioned by Citizens Housing and Planning Council in 2011. Both the exhibit and the adAPT NYC competition are based on data collected by the CHPC, showing that New York City’s demographic shift towards single-person homes doesn’t match up with zoning regulations made to stamp out tenement housing cramming the large families of yesteryear into small, poorly ventilated, fire-trap apartments.