The Linwood Street building, which is one out of three buildings of our Cypress Village project, was erected in just one day! Joined by the owner and architect plus the local neighborhood residents, I watched in amazement as the building was set in place so quickly. This is just another example of the many important benefits of modular construction.
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES WINNER OF adAPT NYCCOMPETITION TO DEVELOP INNOVATIVE MICRO-UNIT APARTMENT HOUSING MODEL
Monadnock Development, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, and nARCHITECTS Will Build City’s First Micro-Unit Apartment Building Using Innovative Design and Modular Construction
40 Percent of 55 New Units in ‘My Micro NY’ at 335 East 27th Street Will be Available to Low- and Middle-Income New Yorkers
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua announced today that the winner of the adAPT NYC Competition is a development team composed of Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, and nARCHITECTS. The development team was chosen through a competitive Request for Proposals to design, construct and operate the city’s first micro-unit apartment building on a City-owned site at 335 East 27th Street in Manhattan. 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, that are designed to optimize space and maximize the sense of openness. ‘My Micro NY’ will be the first multi-unit building in Manhattan developed using modular construction, with the modules prefabricated locally by Capsys at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Mayor made the announcement at the Museum of the City of New York and was joined by Monadnock Development president Nicholas Lembo, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation president Scott Weiner and nARCHITECTS principal Eric Bunge.
“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. “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.”
adAPT NYC is a pilot program that was launched in July 2012 through a Request for Proposals to develop a new model of housing – micro-units. The proposals were evaluated on several criteria, including innovative micro-unit layout and building design. The ‘My Micro NY’ proposal excelled in this category, with features like generous 9’-10” floor-to-ceiling heights and Juliette balconies that provide substantial access to light and air. The micro-units developed as part of this pilot will measure between 250 and 370 square feet.
“Mayor Bloomberg is committed to expanding the housing options available to New Yorkers, and with the results of the adAPT project we’ve clearly seen that developers believe there is a robust market for smaller apartment sizes,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “Today’s announcement is a milestone for new housing models.”
“The remarkable number of high-quality responses to the adAPT NYC RFP validates the position that developing micro-unit living is both financially and physically feasible in the New York City landscape,” said HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua. “Monadnock, nARCHITECTS and the Actors Fund HDC came through with an inventive and striking interpretation of the micro-unit concept. The team’s ‘My Micro NY’ proposal is reflective of our objectives and signifies tremendous promise for this housing model. Remarkable things can be accomplished when thinking carefully about how people live and how we can program small spaces to integrate individuals’ lifestyles with common, or shared, space. This is the result when government acts as a catalyst for private sector innovation.”
“The Monadnock proposal is compelling because it clearly demonstrates how careful planning and design innovation can transform a building into a community and a small unit into a home”, said Planning Commissioner Burden. “The adAPT RFP fulfills its promise by providing a tangible new housing option, which has the potential to broaden housing choices for New Yorkers.”
“Our buildings should be built to meet the needs of New Yorkers, and as our population continues to grow and evolve, so must our housing stock,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “The Monadnock proposal is a fresh, innovative design that recognizes the changes in how we live as a society and presents a safe, reasonable housing option for those who want to call New York City home.”
Designed by nARCHITECTS, ‘My Micro NY’ is an elegant building distinguished by the creative use of setbacks and subtle changes in the color of the brick cladding. A multi-purpose and transparently-glazed space on the ground floor will be programed for rehearsals, performances, lectures and other creative activities, in addition to a café. Inside, the efficient apartment design includes ample storage, such as a 16’-long overhead loft space and a full-depth closet. Compact kitchens contain a full-height pull-out pantry, a full-height fridge, range, and space for a convection microwave. The property will include amenities that invite resident interaction, such as an attic garden, a ground-floor porch with picnic tables, den areas, and a multi-purpose lounge. Programmed interior space comprises 18 percent of the building’s gross square footage. The building will also have a laundry room, residential storage, a bike room, and fitness space.
While the variation in unit sizes and configuration is efficiently limited, minor shifts in the building’s volume, and changes in orientation of units, and location and type of windows generate spatial diversity. Each unit is comprised of two distinct zones: a ‘toolbox’ containing a kitchen, bathroom and storage and a ‘canvas’ providing ample, well-proportioned flexible space allowing for individual expression, and serving as the primary living and sleeping area. ‘My Micro NY’ unites a spectrum of scales ranging from efficiently designed kitchens to the organization of the apartments and common space, all in a simple yet iconic building.
The property will include common spaces with amenities which also emphasize a creative use of space, including a rooftop garden, shared lounge areas on nearly every floor to invite resident interaction, and an 8th floor deck for socializing or group fitness activities that has an additional multi-purpose lounge that can seat twenty for dinner or up to forty for a standing room event. The ‘My Micro NY’ building will also have a laundry room, a storage room, a bike room, and a fitness room.
Highly-skilled workers will prefabricate the building modules at Capsys’s indoor facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Capsys is the first NYC-approved manufacturer of prefabricated modules. After site work, foundations, utilities, and the construction of the ground floor is completed using traditional methods, the modules would arrive on the site with fixtures and finishes already installed. The modules would be hoisted into place in approximately two weeks and the brick facades would be built on the development site. Residents are expected to move in by September 2015.
“We are grateful to the City and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for selecting our proposal from such a competitive pool,” said Alphonse Lembo of Monadnock. “We’ve built market-rate and affordable housing in the five boroughs that have given people places to live and make memories, but this is an important opportunity to change the way we think about living space in an urban setting.”
“We are proud to be a member of the development team selected by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to be at the vanguard of implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s vision to provide a new and innovative option for attractive affordable housing that responds to the changing demographics and preferences of New York City’s residents,” said Scott Weiner, President of the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation.
“We’re thrilled at the chance of designing a housing prototype that will give New Yorkers in small spaces a sense of living in a larger social fabric” said Eric Bunge, Principal of nARCHITECTS.
The ‘My Micro NY’ building will provide housing to one- and two-person households across a variety of incomes. Twenty percent of the apartments (eleven units) will be reserved for households with incomes not exceeding 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI); nine percent (5 units) will be reserved for households with incomes not exceeding 145 percent of AMI; and eleven percent (6 units) will be reserved for households with incomes not exceeding 155 percent of AMI. The remainder of the units will be market rate, along with one superintendent’s unit. The development team was able to achieve affordability in the micro-units for low- and middle-income households without utilizing any direct City subsidy or financing, in part through its use of the modular design, which can significantly reduce a project schedule, resulting in savings on financing and conventional construction costs.
While reviewing the proposals, the City consulted with members of the adAPT NYC Advisory Board, which was created last year. The Board is composed of 12 leaders in architecture and design, housing, and economic development and was assembled to provide feedback on top proposals. Committee members include:
Barry Bergdoll, Chief Curator of Architecture & Design, Museum of Modern Art
Rafael Cestero, President and CEO, Community Preservation Corporation
Tom Eich, Partner, IDEO
Paul Goldberger, Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair
Toni Griffin, Professor of Architecture and Director, J. Max Bond Center at City College of New York
Robert Hammond, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Friends of the High Line
Bjarke Ingels, Architect and Founding Partner, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group
Janel Laban, Executive Editor, Apartment Therapy
Maya Lin, Artist, Maya Lin Studio
Richard Plunz, Director of the Urban Design Program, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Robert Selsam, Senior Vice President, Boston Properties
Christian Siriano, Fashion Designer, Christian Siriano
The winning proposal and four other notable proposals will be featured in an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York called Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers. The exhibit, which is co-presented by the Museum and the Citizens Housing & Planning Council, features creative ideas for how to accommodate the changing demographics of New York City’s population.
“With this exhibition, the Museum of the City of New York and the Citizens Housing & Planning Council are giving New Yorkers a glimpse into the future of housing in our city,” said Susan Henshaw Jones, Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum of the City of New York. “We are excited to showcase proposals from the adAPT NYCCompetition and to foster a discussion of solutions to the city’s emerging housing needs.”
The adAPT NYC Competition was created to introduce additional choices within New York City’s housing market to accommodate the city’s growing population of one- and two-person households.Currently New York City has 1.8 million one- and two-person households, but only one million studios and one-bedrooms. The City’s housing codes have not kept up with its changing population, and currently do not allow an entire building of micro-units. Under this pilot program, Mayor Bloomberg will waive certain zoning regulations at a City-owned site at 335 East 27th Street to test the market for this new housing model. The adAPT NYC RFP was downloaded more than 1,600 times in hundreds of cities domestically and abroad, and generated 33 proposals by the submission deadline – making this the largest response received by HPD for a housing project. It is expected that the project will complete the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for disposition of City-owned land in the fall and break ground on construction at the end of 2013.
The adAPT NYC initiative is part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan. The New Housing Marketplace Plan is a multi-billion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of Fiscal Year 2014. To date, every dollar invested by the City, the Plan has leveraged $3.42 in private funding for a total commitment of more than $20 billion to fund the creation or preservation of over 140,920 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs.
Modular construction may soon catch on in the city, but a Brooklyn factory has been building homes, floor to ceiling, for 16 years. NY1′s Monica Brown filed the following report.
Modular construction can have a house almost entirely built in a factory. The pieces are brought on trucks to their final destination, and the finishing touches can be done on-site. This method could mean big cost savings for the Big Apple, where experts say construction costs are skyrocketing.
“Housing is becoming out of reach for too many New Yorkers,” says New York Building Congress President Richard Anderson. “And if this could bring down the cost somewhat, then a significant sector of the New York City population might have a chance to buy or to rent an apartment.”
In Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Capsys Corp. has been building modular homes for 16 years in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Its affordable housing units, assisted living facilities, hotels and more other buildings are dropped off at sites in all five boroughs and beyond.
Company officials say the average savings can be 5 to 20 percent with modular construction, and that business has been picking up a lot in the last several years.
“Some of that is because we’re coming out of the recession and we’re seeing more activity, but a lot of is it really is just catching on. We like to say that we’re the oldest brand-new idea in construction,” says Tom O’Hara, the director of marketing at Capsys.
Forest City Ratner Corporation might also be trying to change minds. It announced last year that it may look to build the world’s largest modular tower at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. The company declined to be interviewed for this story.
But New York Building Congress officials tell NY1 that project, and other modulars like it, might go a long way toward helping to keep New York’s building industry competitive.
“Innovation in the construction industry is always important because we’re the highest cost construction market in the country, and we are encouraging our members to look for ways to economize, to look to do things differently, and in a better way,” says Anderson.
H2M designs 49-unit prop. for The Richmond Group; Langan Eng., Monadnock, S. Winter assist
Yonkers, NY H2M architects + engineers designed a multi-story, multifamily property for The Richmond Group Development Corp. at 110 Ashburton Ave. The undeveloped site has now become a building with 49 residential units.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) completed its final review of the building confirming the building has LEED Gold status for its design, development and construction. The building actually has two new labels: LEED Gold Certified and Energy Star.
A traditional design would include insulation on the interior structure of the building only and not both the inside and outside. What makes this design green and sustainable is the design of various levels of insulation in the building envelope-both the wrap and the building cavity where insulated to control air infiltration and heat loss and to continue the air barrier across both the inside to the outside. The windows are equipped with high-efficiency glazing that controls heat loss and gain. The design called for a white roofing system with high solar reflectance properties and high-efficiency mechanical systems and finishes with high levels of recycled content.
H2M was the architect and mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer and the structural engineer on the project and partnered with Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Forum, and Capsys Corp. Monadnock Construction was the general contractor on the project and Stephen Winter Associates was the green building consultant.
Spring Creek Nehemiah is East New York is one of the city’s great housing success stories. Already, 233 first-time owners have moved into these well-designed townhomes.
Linda Boyce says it happens all the time. People turn off Flatlands Ave. in East New York, Brooklyn, and slowly cruise Linwood, Vandalia, and Egan Sts. They look around, admiring multi-colored boxy houses with big backyards, private driveways, and patches of front gardens.
“Someone always asks ‘How can I live here?’ ” says Boyce, a member of the first Homeowner Association at Nehemiah Spring Creek, one of the city’s largest affordable homeowning developments and a national model for affordable housing programs. “That makes us proud. We work hard to keep this neighborhood clean and safe. Sometimes I forget I’m in Brooklyn.”
In what is the city’s newest neighborhood, Spring Creek Nehemiah (as residents call it) is home to 233 first-time homeowners who won the right to live at Nehemiah in a lottery sponsored by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, a major partner in the project. They applied to the lottery more than five years ago, some as many as 17 years back. Soon, 50 new owners will move in. Five parks, a supermarket and EMS station will be finished upon plan completion.
Aaron Showalter for New York Daily News
From left, proud Nehemiah owners Milagros Gerez, Walja Moody, Linda Boyce, organizer Grand Lindsay, Roxanne Thomas, Elizabeth Daniel, and Dawn Brown.
Built in partnership with East Brooklyn Congregations and designed by architect Alexander Gorlin, Nehemiah is composed of prefabricatedone-, two- and three-family homes assembled at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Homeowners put down as little as $8,000 to purchase their houses, which ranged in price from $158,000 to $488,000.
When completed by 2016, over 1,525 new homes and apartments will be built on these streets tucked in behind Related Companies Gateway Plaza Mall, Belt Parkway, and two state parks opening by 2014. In September, three new schools will open on a $75 million campus constructed by the Department of Education.
Boyce and her fellow homeowners are part of phase one. They work hard daily to ensure their streets, homes and neighborhood stay safe and clean.
Aaron Showalter for New York Daily News
Linda Boyce shows off her kitchen in a Spring Creek Nehemiah home.
As you enter the area dominated by the Nehemiah prefab houses, it has the feel of newness. It’s cleaner than a hospital. On a quiet and hot Saturday, it feels like a movie set. But life lives inside these homes. Some people have pools, others gardens and outdoor patios with Southern smokers. People on the streets say hello to one another. They stop to talk about meetings, fairs, the new school and construction phases
Grant Lindsay, an organizer for East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC), knows a tight-knit neighborhood has more power combating local problems.
“Our job just doesn’t stop when people move in,” says Lindsay, who has helped EBC members empower themsleves in Brownsville, East New York and Bushwick. “That’s when it starts. We help work together to achieve their needs. Often big government and landlords take advantage of people. We don’t want that to happen. At Nehemiah, we want to build a strong community. This is a place that looks out after each other and is proactive in seeking change. A home is just a home. A neighborhood takes relationships.”
Aaron Showalter for New York Daily News
A row of three-family houses on the edge of the development. Construction on phase-two homes has already began. Fifty new homeowners will move in shortly.
Block by block, Lindsay works with homeowners to set up monthly meetings. Already they have rallied to make crossing Flatlands Ave. safer for seniors and worked to establish a relationship with the Academy for Young Writers, the high school moving from Williamsburg to East New York this fall.
“We make things happen ourselves,” says Roxanne Thomas, owner of a three-family house. “I live across from an empty lot where they are going to build. People used to ride dirt bikes there. It was noisy. I worked with police to ask them to leave. The block is quiet again.”
(At left, two-familyhomes have bay windows and modern stoops; Photo: Aaron Showalter for New York Daily News)
Dawn Brown lives across the street from a football field that serves as a practice and game-day facility for Thomas Jefferson High School. The single mom jokes about her master bedroom being the “mistress bedroom.” Taking pride inside and outside the home, Brown cuts the grass along the practice field fence herself.
“It just looks better,” she says. “We want this to be an inspiration for the entire area. You won’t see spray paint here. You don’t hear loud music. People respect each other here.”
More than respect, homeownership in Spring Creek Nehemiah reaches spiritual heights.
Homeowner Elizabeth Daniel got burned in a Canarsie foreclosure scandal, losing a down payment. Her grandmother instilled in her the goal of homeownership. She started saving again, and received word in 2010 that she had won the right to own a home in Nehemiah. Daniel lives in a two-family with her husband. She loves the bay window and placement on her home on Vandalia St.
“Every day I stop for a moment to thank God for being here,” says Daniel, who works in higher education. “I’m going to make the most of it. We’re going to make sure this place is the best it can be.” Walja Moody came to New York from Alabama. She forgot she applied for a Nehemiah home until 14 years later when the application arrived.
“I had just been divorced,” she says. “I was head of the household and thinking, ‘How am I going to do this?’ ” she says. “It’s very fulfilling to be part of a community that is growing and evolving. We are all in this together here. We are not rich people. These homes and this neighborhood are our lives.”
A philosophical architect with a conscious, Alexander Gorlin was aware of the importance architecture would have in the community. He and his firm have been working on the project for 12 years. Gorlin’s take on the updated brownstone for middle-class New Yorkers was honored in an exhibition on prefab houses at the Museum of Modern Art. It feels “heartening,” he says, to walk Nehemiah today.
“You feel the power of architecture at work creating a beautiful place for people to live,” says Gorlin. “There is such attention to detail, like that in a wealthy person’s home, that in ways it confirms that the people who live here are important. All the homes are not alike. They allow for individuality in a communal setting. I think that helps it work.”
Boyce, who has a corner one-family across from the new school, redesigned her kitchen with granite countertops and custom-made cabinetry. She redid her floors a darker wood.
“I had a niece come to visit, and from the outside she said it looked so small,” says Boyce. “When she came in, she couldn’t believe how big it is. When the school opens, it will be wonderful to hear children laughing and playing. We’re working to see how we can help them.”
Set to open in September, the educational structure will house three schools: the Academy for Young Writers, where 60% to 80% of the students live in East New York and Brownsville; the Spring Creek Community School, which starts at sixth grade, and P53K for special-needs students. The high school’s principal, Courtney Winkfield, sees a link between the neighborhood and the school.
“We chose to be in this neighborhood,” says Winkfield, whose school was formerly housed in a Williamsburg walkup with electrical wiring so old multiple computers couldn’t power up. “Not only is it where our students live, it’s a place with strong spirit. We’re discussing mentorship programs to stay connected to our neighbors. The people at Nehemiah are pioneering a new area.”
For EBC, the drive for quality housing and empowered community is constant.
“The homes we build are named after the Old Testament figure Nehemiah, who helped rebuild Jerusalem after it had been destroyed,” says Lindsay. “With each home, we try to embody that same spirit of hope in the face of despair. It’s ironic. This is one of the signature achievements of the Bloomberg third term, but the mayor hasn’t been here. We hope he comes to see this.”
YOU SHOULD KNOW
What: Nehemiah Spring Creek, an affordable housing success story in East New York. Phase three homes start at $190,000 with about $10K down.
Where: Near Gateway Plaza Mall off Flatlands Ave. Take the 3 train to New Lots Ave. and the B6 to Nehemiah Spring Creek near Linwood St.
How: Go to nyc.gov/hpd for lottery info. For more on East Brooklyn Congregations, go to ebc-iaf.org.
NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate Construction Management Program and the Real Estate Synergy Club will be hosting an event entitled “OFF-SITE CONSTRUCTION & MODULAR HIGH-RISE” to be held at The Shorin Performance Center @ The Kimmel Center on the NYU campus at 600 Washington Square South, NY, NY on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 7:30 AM.
The event will include breakfast followed by a panel discussion featuring prominent members of the New York development and construction oversight authorities, representatives of the Modular Building Institute, members of the Sustainable construction consultancy community as well as members of the Capsys management team.
As Sasha Durcan, one of the event’s organizers puts it: “The global construction and development industries have embraced “one of the oldest new ideas” with Off-site & Modular High-Rise Construction. Advances in parametric modeling and digital fabrication have significantly advanced off-site building capabilities. Modular design can now substantially reduce schedules; create efficient labor, material and cost savings; improve quality control and worker safety; as well as easily contributing to sustainability goals.”
So, please join the Capsys, along with the NYU Schack Institute CMAA Chapter, the Real Estate Synergy Club, members of NYU Stern, NYU Law and NYU Wagner schools, as well as industry stakeholders, to discuss current challenges and solutions in the Off-Site & Modular Industry.
This event is free to the public.
For more information as the event evolves, please check in often at the event BlogSpot linked below. We look forward to seeing you there.