New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, recently unveiled a multi-billion dollar initiative called the New Housing Marketplace Plan which will finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of Fiscal Year 2014. At Studio G, we wholeheartedly agree that there is an enormous need to expand housing at virtually all income levels – not only in NYC, but also here in Boston.
We see tremendous potential for new multi-unit housing construction. To be a world-class city, we need to support Boston’s evolving 21st century workforce, draw the best and brightest young people to the city, and accommodate those who want to age in place in the city. We can do so by maximizing the city’s limited real estate in a sustainable manner. In many cases, both market-rate and affordable housing require increased density to be viable: more dwellings per parcel, and units which are smaller, more flexible and highly efficient. In a high cost city like Boston, reducing the size of units represents the first step in affordability. Historically, Boston hasn’t allowed dwellings under 500sf, but a change in policy would create opportunity for different types of very urban dwellings. For less dense neighborhoods in the city, clusters of ‘cottages,’ which are single or two-family buildings, or rowhouses provides another solution.
As designers, we eagerly respond to the challenge to create thoughtful multi-purpose spaces with flexible furnishings, shared amenities, and adjacency to public transportation. This approach is inherently “green” – smaller dwellings with shared amenities require fewer materials to construct, consume less energy and help build community, moving us closer to a goal of zero net energy.
Our passion for housing stems from years of designing different types of housing. For Jamaica Plain NDC, we designed a green, transit-oriented mixed use building at 270 Centre Street, with a blend of retail and affordable housing. The project minimizes fossil fuel use, preserves natural resources, maximizes indoor air quality, and engages and uplifts the surrounding community. For Terrace Street Lofts, Studio G Architects helped re-envision two historic brewery buildings for transit-oriented development. With Stull & Lee, we proposed 175 lofts and artist live/work and gallery spaces. Our design for 400sf studios was an effort to make affordable market-rate housing that didn’t require public subsidy.
We look forward to taking an active role in delivering new, creative housing solutions in Boston and other cities across Massachusetts.