City seeks designers for housing on oddly sized lots

A 17-foot wide lot in the Foxhurst section of the Bronx is among 23 unusual lots included in the city’s new design competition.

“This is a chance to prove that, when it comes to
architecture, small is beautiful”

The city is turning to the design world to transform slivers of
vacant land into below-market-rate housing.

On Monday, the Department of Housing and Preservation (HPD)
announced that it is kicking off a design competition, asking
architects to come up with proposals to build housing on 23
unusually sized lots throughout the five boroughs.

“With this competition, we’re tapping into the creativity
and expertise of the design community—the best and the
brightest—to spark big ideas for some of the city’s smallest
and most challenging to develop lots,” said HPD Commissioner
Maria Torres-Springer in a statement.

The two-stage competition, Big Ideas
for Small Lots NYC
, partners with the New York Chapter of the
American Institute of Architects (AIANY) to select
designs for lots as tiny as 663
square feet and as narrows as
13 feet wide. Lots of this size are typically left over wedges from
developments, or a result of zoning oddities or building code
quirks that make them undesirable to private developers.

New York City owns 5,027 undeveloped parcels across the
city—including wetlands, community gardens, and unusable
slices—but of those nearly 1,800 are small properties that are
less than 1,900 square feet, according to Department of
Administrative Services spokesperson Nick Benson. The competition
comes as legislators are renewing their push to bring long-vacant
lots back into productive use and
crack down on private owners
who have allowed the land to fall
into disrepair.

There is no entry fee for the contest, which initially asks
entrants to focus on a derelict 17-foot-wide, 1,665-square-foot
Harlem lot on West 136th Street. Proposals will be judged by a
panel of nine jurors made up of urban planners, architects, and
private developers. In the second phase, contestants are asked to
propose budgets and site plans—that portion is slated for fall
2019. The competition is an opportunity for designers get
innovative with their petite projects, one judge said.

“This is a chance to prove that, when it comes to
architecture, small is beautiful,” said Claire Weisz, the
co-founder of WXY Architecture + Urban Design.

Finalists in the first stage of the contest will be awarded
$3,000 by the AIANY and have their designs exhibited at the Center
for Architecture. Afterwards, the city will organize a series of
workshops to develop teams for the next phase where HPD will pair
proposals with certain city lots. The second design phase must
focus on those lots, but must also include how the project could be
translated to develop housing on the 23 other sites.

HPD mostly anticipates plans for two- or three-family homes for
buyers who will be selected through the city’s affordable housing
lottery, though below-market-rate rentals are also being
considered. Income limits have not been set yet for the prospective
housing.

Planners have until March 24 2019 to submit their initial
designs and finalists for the first stage will be announced in May
2019.

Source: FS – NYC Real Estate
City seeks designers for housing on oddly sized lots