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City announces finalists for Big Ideas for Small Lots design competition


Architects from across the globe submitted plans to build affordable housing on oddly-sized lots

Architects and designers around the world submitted over 400 proposals to build affordable housing on small lots across the five boroughs through the Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC competition, led by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the American Institute of Architects (AIANY)—and five of those designers, all New York-based, have been selected as finalists.

As we previously reported, back in February, HPD and AIA charged those participating with designing for lots as small as 663 square feet and as narrow as 13 feet wide. These lots are leftover spaces from developments, or result from zoning oddities, which make them often undesirable to private developers.

“To unlock some of our most difficult-to-develop sites we needed to take a fresh approach, and taking that leap has clearly paid off,” HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll said in a statement.

“Out of the hundreds of proposals that we received from teams around the world, these five were unparalleled in their use of innovative design to solve for the challenges that have left these lots underutilized.”

The finalists were selected by a panel of nine jurors from a variety of industries, including architecture, real estate development, urban design, and public policy. The winning submissions will be featured in a Fall 2019 exhibition at the Center for Architecture.

“As a jury, we looked for inventive proposals that considered the residents as well as the communities beyond—We discussed design quality broadly, with a focus on technical feasibility,” AIANY president and jury chair Hayes Slade, said in a statement. “Accessibility, both physical and economic, was also an important consideration.”

Here are the five finalists:

“Mass Green Living” by Anawan/101 + Kane AUD 

Anawan/101 + Kane AUD’s proposal features five units in a 5,900 square-foot building with a ground-level common area or “urban garage” and was selected based on “its mix of unit types, its adaptability, and the enhanced living experience for residents through smart design features.”

“Greenfill House as Garden” by Michael Sorkin Studio

Michael Sorkin Studio’s proposal includes seven units in a 4,430-square-foot building with facade steps that create a terraced effect. It was selected because of “its ability to provide plentiful outdoor spaces that contribute to residents’ experience, its clever use of space, and its comprehensive use of sustainable features to minimize the building’s environmental footprint.”

“Fold and Stack” by OBJ

OBJ’s proposal features five units in a 5,540-square-foot building with an interior courtyard, and it was selected for its “intelligent use of modular construction, its successful use of double-height spaces within a compact footprint to create a vertical community, and its successful integration of design techniques that address light and ventilation through an interior courtyard that also encourages social interaction.”

“Only If” by Only If Architecture

Only If Architecture’s proposal includes seven units in a 4,900-square-foot building and it was chosen because of its “use of innovative built-ins to produce compact yet functional appealing spaces, its ability to provide seven units that range in size from micro to two-bedrooms within a small footprint, its variable façade treatments, and its ability to exemplify how intentional design can elevate a traditional rowhouse in a familiar yet unique manner.”

“More with Less” by Palette Architecture

Palette Architecture’s proposal includes two units, one of which is a co-living space with four “individual rooming units,” in a 3,700-square-foot building; and it was selected because of its “ability to provide a model for co-living that demonstrates intelligent consolidation and organization of different types of spaces, the way public and private spaces intersect, and for serving as a good example of how a small lot can accommodate modern housing trends.”

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