Page 1

habitat ny

School of Architecture + Design, Virginia Tech Joanna Colfer Gina Leonard

habitat ny

School of Architecture and Design, Virginia Tech Joanna Colfer Gina Leonard

Project Abstract The proposed building is a 12-story mixed-use developmenet in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn. The lower two floors of the building are double-height commercial spaces, with facilities for small restaurants or cafes. A large amount of the commercial program is dedicated to Greendesk, a flexible month to month office space rental agency. Above the commercial levels are ten floors of apartments arranged in a ring around an interior atrium space. There are three types of apartments: a single story micro-apartment, an L-shaped block, and a double height apartment. All three typologies are considered “micro-units,� as they are all less than 310 square feet, but each caters to a different type of individual on the basis of income and lifestyle. In order to create quality affordable housing units, the smallest spaces are rented below market price, but the revenue is regained through an increased Greendesk rate for non-residents of the building. By pairing people who need affordable housing with young entrepeneurs using Greendesk, a symbiotic relationship can be fostered where both people live in an environment that enables success.

04 | 08 | 14 | 16 | 18 | 20 | 22 | 24 | 26 | 28 | 30 |

Mission Statment Site Context and Analysis

Boundary as a Bridge Zoning Diagrams The Missing Ingredients What is Dwelling? Initial Massing Studies An Affordable Typology Distribution of Affordable Housing Precedent Studies: The Schermerhorn Organization of Program

32 | 38 | 40 | 42 | 44 | 46 | 50 | 52 | 54 |

Apartment Typologies Apartment Model Typical Floor Plans Longitudinal Section Transverse Section The Urban Interface

The Atrium Space Facade Studies Proforma

Manhattan Downtown Brooklyn


Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District

Cultural District

Corner of Flatbush and Lafayette

Downtown Brooklyn is home to some of the most Downtown Brooklyn is home to some of the most impressive impressive arts and cultural institutions in New York City, and arts and cultural institutions Newis atYork City, ofand the Downtwon Brooklyn Cultural in District the heart it. the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District is at the heart of it. This This growing district includes dance centers, galleries, music growing district includes dance centers, galleries, venues, theaters, artists’ studios, media arts organizations,music venues, theatres, artists’ and studios, media arts organizations, restaurants, public plazas, mixed-income housing. restaurants, public plazas and mixed-income housing. The site atThethesitecorner Flatbush and Lafayette AvenueAvenues was chosen at theofcorner of Flatbush and Lafayette due its unique to the tostreet and its was to chosen due to itsrelationship unique relationship the street andmany its many opportunities other near opportunities to begin ato dibegin aloguea dialogue betweenbetween other venues such as Academy the Brooklyn Academy Music itvenues such asnear theitBrooklyn of Music, andofthe Barclays and the Barclays Center. In keeping with the diversity of the will Center. With the diversity of the district, the architecture district, the architecture will strive to become a part of an strive to become a part of an intregrated cultural hub. integrated cultural hub.


The Cut The site is broken up into two sections. This diagonal shear between the building was denoted by the collision of different grid patterns that originally created the site. The condition of the cut is a room inside a room. Inviting one in front the sttreet corner, it is a place for impromptu conversation and meetings. Cropped views allow one to view the street as a performance. Multiple trees provide a thick canopy making one feel protected and comfortable. The environment of the plaza is reminiscient to the neighborhood street.

Traditional Brownstone

Traditional Brownstone Flat Facade

Hanson Place

Brooklyn Academy of Music

Boundary is not just a line, it is a bridge that interlinks entities.



Rather than than being marginalized in Rather being marginalquasi-instituational settings, formerly setized in quasi-institutional homeless tenants live alongside a diverse tings, formerly homeless tengroup low-income professionals, and antsoflive alongside a diverse entrepeneurs. addition to making it group of In low-income profespossible for at-risk individuals to renew sionals, and entrepreneurs. their lives, the affordability, security,itand In addition to making posprime location enables opportunities would sible for at risk individuals to not otherwise be financially feasible to renew their lives, the affordcontribute to the unique character of the ability, security, and prime BIg Apple. Some are young people newly location enables opportuniembarking on an independent life, while ties would not otherwise be others are winding down their careers or financially feasible to concutting down on expenses. tribute to the unique character of the Big Apple. Some are young people newly embarking on an independent life, while others are winding down their careers or cutting down on expenses.


Boundary and the City


2 3

4 5 1 Long Island University 2 Brooklyn Academy of Music 3 The Watchtower 4 Atlantic Yards Shopping Mall 5 Barclays Center

Residential Commercial Industrial Park Space

Analysis of Zoning One of the critical aspects of the site is its adjacency to Flatbush Avenue, the major traffic corridor into Manhattan. This highway is a link between the cultural heart of downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Barclay’s Center and the rest of the city. Flatbrush also divides a largely residential area in two with a commercial corridor expanding towards the Manhattan Bridge. Our proposal is to create an architectural bridge between these typologies, making a building that fosters more foot traffic through the area, and a place to inhabit at street level.

25k to 45k 45k to 65k 65k to 85k 85k to 105k 105k or higher

Subway Station


Bus Stop Public Park

Grocery Store

Sports Arena




Art Gallery



Bar and Night Life

The Missing Ingredients The corridor along Flatbush Avenue has a dense network of subway stations and other modes of public transportation in a short distance. Due to its proximity to downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO, it is also a blossoming commercial area. The recent completion of the Barclay’s Center along with several other large-scale projects at Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue marks a turning point for the region, creating a large demand on the existing infrastructure and local businesses, causing an increased need for amenities such as restaurants, entertainment, and housing. Directly opposite the historic Watchtower and the Brooklyn Academy of Music is a triangular parking lot. This empty plot of land has the potential to answer the needs of a growing community by providing a sense of “Place,” assuaging not only the need for affordable housing in the area, but to also enhance the neighborhood with large public spaces, resturants, cafes, and a place for budding businesses to plant their roots.

is the direct result of a viewpoint of economy. However, the quality of place is disregarded in lieu of higher occupancy.

What is a Dwelling?

Instead, placemaking should be a critical aspect in design that capitalizes on a

In today’s world of high-density residential design, theinspirations, default model takesand to position community’s assets, potential. How these people meet, interact, that the site always takes second fiddle to the individual unit. This condition is the and live throughout a place should be facilitated by the architecture. That direct result of a viewpoint of economy. However,e the quality of place is disregarded architecture should ultimately create the opportunity not only for a place to live, but in lieu of higher occupancy.

a place to dwell.

Instead, placemaking should be critical aspect in design that capitalizes on a community’s assets, inspirations, and potential. How these people meet, interact, and live throughout a place should be facilitated by the architecture. That architecture should ultimately create the opportunity not only for a place to live, but a place to dwell.

habitat ny

Initial Building Massing

An Affordable Typology The current typology of New York City is a model that cannot be conducive to affordable housing. In order to create an environment that is both affordable and desirable for the everyday New Yorker, the revenue must be made in a new way. Greendesk is a monthly desk rental agency which alllows people to rent various sizes of space at a premium. While affordable housing can only be rented at a monthly rate of roughly $2.50/sf, Grenndesk can be rented at $11/sf. Thus, the lost evenue can be recovered through Greendesk. The opportunity for a live/work reisdential building creates a demand from a specific type of possible resident: the young entrepeneur. By pairing the young entepeneurs with those who need affordable housing, a new typology can be created where both parties benefit in a symbiotic relationship.


Single Apartment


L Block Apartment


Affordable Housing Commercial Greendesk

Double Apartment

18% The Inhabitants

60/40 Entrepeneurs Percentage of Young Entrepeneurs to Affordable Housing

Median Income Professionals

Low-Income Working Adults


Low Income Tenants

Affordable Housing

ng Entrepeneurs


60% Young Entrepeneurs

Young Entrepeneurs


Low-Income Inhabitants

Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing

40% Distribution of Affordable Housing

Precedent Study: The Schermerhorn Opened in 2009, the Schermerhorn is Common Ground’s latest construction project.The building has 217 units which are a mix of low-income working adults from the arts and entertainment industry and formerly homeless single adults. The program supports services provided by The Actors Fund and the Center for Urban Community Services. The Schermerhorn is a green building with a series of rooftop gardens, a high efficieny boiler system, and a glass façade. The total cost of the project was $59 million, and it is a sustainable business model.


Arrangement of Program The program is separated into three critical parts: the commercial, the residental, and the public space. Each space, respectively, is originally blocked out as a portion of the building. The program is then reunited through the medium of the public space. Thus, the atrium at the center of the building acts as a buffer space between the living areas and the working area, much like the cut in the bottom floor of the building acts as a similar streetscape buffer for pedestrian traffic along Flatbush Avenue.

Greendesk Commercial Publilc Space

The Unit There are three unit typologies: the single height space, the L block, and the double height space. Each unit type caters to a different type of individual, and is based on the same 9’x27’ footprint. The single height apartment comprises 60% of the total aparments, and is designated “affordable housing.” A small portion of the single height apartments are connected to exterior verandas created by neighboring L-blocks. The L-block apartments are apartments with a kitchen on the lower level and a lofted bedroom area. The bottom portion of the “L” leads to an outdoor communal terrace which is shared by 2-3 other apartments. The double height apartments make up the smallest percentage of the total apartments, and are designed to accommodate the demands of a higher income clientele, or a two-person household. Like the L blocks, the bedroom is lofted above the kitchen and living areas. Typically, the double height spaces are clustered at the end of the hallways, and a large cluster is facing the southern exposure, with a direct view of the Barclay’s Center.

Plan of the L-Block Apartment

Axonometric View

Plan of the Single Height Apartment

Axonometric View

Plan of the Double Height Apartment

Axonometric View







Model Photographs in Numerical Order: (1) A typical cluster of apartments with the L-Block creating an exterior balcony condition (2) Two single-height apartments together with inner facade (3) A perspective inside the L-Block (4) The secondary glazing system with operable louvers (5) I-beam detailing (6) Interior I-beam detailing






Typical Floor Plan A



Scale: 1/32”=1’ Enlarged 50%

Typical Floor Plan B



Longitudinal Section


Transverse Section

The Urban Interface

Atlantic Center

The Urban Interface In a dense urban environment where space is at a premium, the streetscape becomes a room unto itself. Healthy street environments present a continuous facade accented by storefronts, restaurants, and other amenities necessary for city living. The streetscape is harmed by interruptions to the curb, garages, and large openeings which create dead zones in the environment. Although Brooklyn has more room for expansion than Manhattan, the urban street environment is still critical. The streetscape on the Flatbush site has been strongly impacted by the addition of an indoor shopping mall directly across the street. Instead of those stores presenting their fronts to the street and developiing an environment, the circulation has been completely internalized and the effect of the street as a room to inhabit has been harmed. In order to rehabilitate a streetscape, the urban interface becomes a critical aspect of design. Th increase pedestrian traffic on site, the cut space is populated with cafes and small restaurants, in addition to the Greendesk facilities and an extended sidewalk. the walls are glazed to further increase the accessibility and visibility of the businesses to the viewer on the street. Large bifolding fritted glass shutters can be openeed to blur the boundary between interior and exterior, room and street. When fully open, these shutters create sun shades for pedestrians on the street.

The Atrium The apartments are arranged in a ring around an atrium space. This atrium is elevated above the ground floor, and creates a semi-private boundary between the residential and commercial program. On the northernmost corner of the atrium, the floor slab extends outwards into the atrium on two levels, creating a raised meeting area which catches the exposure from the southern sun. Each corner of the atrium reveals a small sliver of the city through a ribbon-like opening between the apartments. These cuts in the building maintain the connection to the city, but mitigate the sound and bustle of Flatbush Avenue. The roof of the atrium is fitted with rotating glass louvers which can be used as a source of beneficial solar gain in the winter, or as a heat stack system in the warmer summer months. The glass louvers create a buffer zone which lengthens the usability of the space throughout the year.

Facade and Boundary The bridge between dwelling and city becomes a critical moment when an inhabited space is so small. In many cases, the city itself becomes the “living room� of the inhabitant. To assuage feelings of claustrophobia in such a small space, a strong link to the outside world should be maintained in the architecture. The building envelope which maintains that link is a double glazed system with an inner layer of operable casement windows for air circulation. The outer layer of the system is a series of glass louvers which rotate between two deep mullions. This system of louvers allows the inhabitant to view different aspects of the city at the same time; in different postiions, the louvers reflect different aspects of the city. Whether the louvers reflect the image of the sky, the skyline, or the busy street below is at the discretion of the occupant. Thus, the boundary between the city and the dwelling is blurred, creating a stronger link between them.

Proforma General Estimate

C. Interiors

1010 Apartments 1020 Greendesk

Cost Per S.F. Rentable Space Estimate Cost 664.044 40

62,760 25,000

41,672,640 800,000




1030 Standard Commerical

Detail Estimate

A. Substructure

1010 Standard Foundations

CIP concrete pile caps

1010 Floor Construction

Open web steel joists, slab concrete, interior steel columns Open web steel joists, w/ rib metal deck, interior steel columns

B. Shell

1020 Roof Construction

Total Estimate




Cost Per S.F. % of Sub-total Estimate Cost

B01 Exterior Enclosure 2010 Exterior Walls

Operable double glazed

1010 Partitions 1020 Interior Doors

Gypsum board & metal stud 15% solid, 85% hollow core

1030 Fittings 1040 Wall Finishes

C. Interiors












13.63 8.12

15 % -

2,183,526 41,983

Kitchen Cabinets Gypsum

3.60 3.03


189,936 689,331

1050 Floor Finishes

Carpet, tile and ceramic tile




2010 Stair Construction

Concrete filled metal pan




1010 Elevators and Lifts

Passenger elevator



Kitchen, bath, supply drain. Roof Drains

15.68 .16

12.1% -

3,567,448 5,000

3010 Energy Supply 3040 Cooling Generated Systems Chilled water, air cooler

7.95 9.53

10.1% -

1,375,032 1,665,604

4010 Sprinklers

Wet pipe sprinkler system




5010 Electrical Service/Distrib. 400 ampere service 5020 Lighting and Wiring Fixtures, switched etc. 5030 Security Alarms, wiring, intercom 5040 Other Electrical Systems Backup generator

2.22 7.70 3.10 .23

D. Services


D20 Plumbing 2010 Plumbing Fixtures 2040 Rain Water Drainage


D40 Fire Protection D50 Electrical

Contractor Fees (General Requirements 10%, Overhead 5%, Profit 10%) *Data collected out of RSMeans Square Footage Costs 2012.


7.6% -

33,670 120,569 47,014 5,000


A semester-long microhousing project centered in Brooklyn, NYC