This project we’re working on is large enough to break into two articles, the first dealing with the parking facilities. When designing for a large multi-story apartment building, one must provide for parking. There is an option of using off-site parking but essentially one needs to own the property and that property must be within a reasonable distance to your building. That said, like on this project, the parking must be incorporated into the basement space.
This is where good architects stand out in my opinion, in that if the structure is right, and aligns with the apartment units above, there is a substantial savings in the avoidance of transfer beams. This is our approach to help lessen the financial burden of providing a parking garage yet do so in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the apartment units on the upper floors, or the retail space.
While there is often repetition in apartment building design, we decide to change up the standard so that each apartment doesn’t become a boring clone of the next apartment. In fact, how boring is it to go to your apartment and know that your apartment is exactly the same as every other apartment on the floor and in the building?
It is quite ridiculous to design in this way, that cookie-cutter way. People who purchase their own home clearly want that home to reflect their own personality, be slightly unique and have a quality they can be proud of. So why is it that in large apartment buildings where it would be financially easy to mix things up a bit that it isn’t done. The answer is simple: Architects and Interior Designers are lazy and cheap. They know that if they specify a bathroom, picking out fixtures, surfaces and hardware that they can do this for 300 apartments, charge for 300 apartments yet only have to do the exercise once. Yet it really isn’t much effort for them to do this same exercise 10 or 20 times and alternate the style of the bathrooms unit to unit. Are they afraid that the contractor will get confused? Do they really think a blue tile versus a tan tile will cost more to install? Are they just too lazy to do the work or perhaps they just don’t care. Do you really want to hire someone who is lazy and doesn’t care?
We we’re betting on that it does matter to you which is why we launched SimpleTwig Architecture.llc, to provide developers and homeowners with the best thinking architect in the business. Really, the best thinking architect? Well I have been hired by countless famous architects around the world to do just that for their business, and have designed the projects that major developers, institutions and agencies have come to see built. Now you can skip the high costs of a larger firm and go directly to the source, the mind behind the design, to get the best considered from all aspects for your own project.
But lets get back to the special qualities of this one project in Brooklyn.
A rather special apartment building design by SimpleTwig Architecture.llc, the concept focuses on making the most of the apartment quality, from the moment one steps off the elevator to the moment one sits down on their sofa, the design seeks to maximize living space while minimizing other spaces without compromising quality living.
This article explores the basic layout of the entire apartment floor plan level, which will be supplemented by images of the actual units tomorrow, since we have so much to share on this project. This article also corresponds to two additional articles, one on the parking facilities, and the other on the retail, garden and street level planning of the project. All together, this is how one should make a fully integrated project that makes the most of tenant spaces, provides the community with a special building and provides the owner with a building that is easy to build, maintain and sustain.
We’re putting the final touches on a 40 unit residential project in Brooklyn. It is pretty special in that the project keeps part of an old theater facade and uses it to announce the retail component of the project, through awnings and little local vendors which can casually set up their wares below the awnings. The extra traffic and attention will be a boost for the anchor tenant who has a commanding view of this important residential corner.
This project is split into 3 articles, released the 8th of September, the 10th and the 12th.
This layout option is for the Homeowner, who may not be willing to invest in our ultimate walkup shared living layout which has initial higher upfront costs with a higher return over a longer period of time making it more appropriate for the developer. This version is more of a straight forward apartment with shared bathroom, kitchen and living rooms with more modest sized suites, the ultimate version to be released soon has individual suites with their own bathrooms and only a shared kitchen, the living areas are within each suite.
For new construction, and in this as other studies to create rental apartments, an Architect is going to be confronted by two likely scenarios, the adjacent buildings have existing party-walls with the property line running through it’s center, or, there are no adjacent buildings and thus new party-walls can be built directly over the property line. In this version of our townhouse plan, we explore the ramifications of an existing party-wall that can not be used as it does not meet earthquake code requirements, or, a new building positioned it’s party-wall completely onto its own property.
This results in slightly less interior space, but also creates a unique situation where the joists can run from the front of the building to the back. The design result, is a 2 bedroom apartment with a huge great room with 3 windows bringing in the light and air, something that most people in New York City, Chicago, Boston or any large city would love to have.
We get a lot of calls for bathroom and kitchen renovations. Often we refer them to other companies given their limited budget. Not that we’re unwilling to do them but we also don’t want them to spend money on us when with very limited funds it could be spent on materials.
That said, we do design kitchens, bathroom or whatever program element a home owner desires. This project was special in that it was built for a NYC Police Officer hurt on the job and confined to a wheel chair. Despite the limited budget we couldn’t say no. Read more →
The design challenge is to maximize the square footage within a typical 20’x45′ townhouse footprint while minimizing the lost space in public areas. Sounds simple? Haha, yeah sure. To do so one needs to examine all the pieces to ensure they themselves are efficient, and then arrange those pieces in such a way to avoid wasted space and improve sizes of rooms based on their hierarchical importance.
So we want to minimize the public spaces, the hallways and push that area savings into the main rooms of the apartment. At the same time we want to maximize the number of bedrooms, keep all plumbing and vent stacks in one area to minimize cost of construction, and keep everything nice and easy to build with simply arranged partitions, so the cost stays reasonable, and the time it takes to finish is quick. Clean layouts means less confusion for contractors, thus avoiding mistakes.
Can we at SimpleTwig Architecture.llc do it? We think we have and would like to present a clean, highly efficient apartment layout ready for most townhouses in New York City, Chicago and other urban areas, allowing the Home Owner to maximize their rent roll while providing their tenants with homes they will look forward to living in.
This is a very cut and dry analysis of four different stair configurations that could help generate an additional $54,000 in rental income from a 4 story townhouse type structure just by reconfiguring the stair, touched on in a previous article (which we would recommend reading). The first option is the traditional townhouse stair, found in most townhouses in New York City. Often this stair offers stunning architectural detail and should be preserved, but more often than not the original stair has been replaced with a metal stair, due to sagging or some other issue. Sadly the replacements lack character and often do not fix the underlying issue to why they were sagging and are themselves sagging, causing stress fractures in party-walls at each end of the stair.
The advantages of replacing the stair are simple, it frees up square footage that can be used inside an apartment. The following compares three different stairs, the traditional, the compact and the ‘extended landing’, and a new comer, the squarish stair which is the best option (< spoiler alert). It is noted as ‘Stair 8’ which reflects the number of versions we’ve studied to get to that point. This ‘best option 8’ is shown in the article ‘The Ultimate Townhouse Floor Plan’ released August 28, 2017, so take a look at that one as well.