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Inside the Brooklyn Factory Birthing NYC's New Micro Units

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All photos by Max Touhey

Thousands of tiny apartments exist in New York City, but small space seekers won't find what they're looking for in new construction. Zoning laws enacted in 1987 prohibit apartments from being less than 400 square feet, which is much larger than what one can find in old tenements and SRO buildings, but thanks to a new development rising at 335 East 27th Street, the city will get its first ever modern microdwellings. Called My Micro NY, the building is the product of a city-sponsored design competition inspired by the growing number of single New Yorkers living solo. Designed by nARCHITECTS and developed by Monadnock Development, the building will hold 55 studios, ranging from 260 to 360 square feet, and consist of 66 prefabricated modules, which are currently being constructed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Each apartment is its own module, and features a Juliet balcony, wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, a closet, overhead storage, and a kitchenette with two electric burners, an under-counter refrigerator, and an 18-inch dishwasher. With 9'8" ceilings and large windows, the units actually feel quite spacious, but a rooftop deck and common areas provide extra breathing room. The building's steel structure is currently going up, and the modules will be delivered to the site in June. Completion is set for late fall.

Twenty-two of the apartments will be affordable, and the market rate units will likely rent for $2,000 to $3,000 a month, though project manager Tobias Oriwol said that rents have not yet been determined. Monadnock mostly does affordable housing projects, and this is the firm's first development with a significant amount of market rate units (1 John Street, which they are co-developing, is number two).

Oriwol said the project was attractive to Monadnock because it offered a chance to do something out of the ordinary and inform new zoning laws. "Even the [Request for Proposals] was different than most. It was much more design-focused and discouraged different types of units." Since the RFP weighed heavily on design, Monadnock chose to collaborate with architects they'd never worked with before, nARCHITECTS. "We wanted a young, creative firm," said Oriwol. The end result, a prefabricated modular building, was another first for Monadnock Development.

The modules are being built by Capsys, a company that's been making modular buildings for nearly two decades in their factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard's former foundry.


· My Micro NY [Monadnock Construction]
· Monadnock Development [official]
· All coverage of 335 East 27th Street [Curbed]
· Planning for the Even Tinier Apartments of NYC's Future [Curbed]
· All Micro Week 2015 coverage [Curbed]

Carmel Place

335 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016