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Planning for the Even Tinier Apartments of NYC's Future

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Before the end of the year (if all goes as planned), a team led by Monadnock Development will break ground on the city's first building full of micro-units at 335 East 27th Street, the result of a competition meant to bring the principles of good design to bear on local demographic change. A panel of people from Monadnock, nARCHITECTS (which designed the winning micro apartment shown above), the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and City Planning got together at the Museum of the City of New York last night to chat about the future of NYC micro-living, and in the process revealed a few things about the East 27th Street project.

The building was designed to look, from the side, like four towers, explained nARCHITECTS' Mimi Hoang, inspired by Hugh Ferriss's drawings but with a contemporary twist. Reducing the size of the apartments?the 55 units in the building will be between 250 and 370 square feet, below the limit ordinarily allowed under NYC zoning codes?means "we have to give something back," Hoang said. In this case, that something is more light and air within the units, thanks to higher ceilings, and a glassy ground floor to thin the barrier between building and street. (The rest of the building will have a brick facade laid over modular units.) The apartments are studios, but they're designed to feel like more than studios: the right side of each unit will be what Hoang describes as the "toolbox," the essential kitchen, bathroom, and storage spaces each renter needs; the left side will be the "canvas," a somewhat customizable living space.

So how much will these spaces cost? Monadnock's Nick Lembo said the building's market-rate units will probably ask around $2,000 or $2,100/month. (Affordable units will range from $940/month to $1,800/month.) For the developer, the income minus expenses results in a "less than exorbitant" profit, but Lembo and Monadnock were enthusiastic enough about the project to sign on anyway. If this pilot attempt?restricted by its location on a small city lot?succeeds, the panelists all agreed that we can expect larger-scale efforts toward small-scale living. The city already has plans to call on developers for two or three more micro-unit proposals this year.
· New York City's Future Micro-Apartment Revealed! [Curbed]
· Microdwellings archive [Curbed]

Museum of the City of New York

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