Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Design Update for NYC Net Zero Public Housing Project

Design Update for NYC Net Zero Public Housing Project

This week, my focus has been on developing the design and Revit model for the ground floor of the NYC Net Zero Public Housing Project. Just like any architecture project, I faced several programmatic layout and façade design issues on the ground floor of the building. Here are my architectural design resolutions for these issues.

Ground Floor Programmatic Layout

As a public housing project located directly across the street from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, I had to figure out what public programs would relate to both the tenants of the building as well as students and professors at the college. Initially, I thought of designing a grocery store and deli that would supply fresh produce and snacks to both people from FIT as well as the tenants living directly above.

However, as I thought more about the neighborhood, I realized that grocery stores are populated on nearly every block. Although the store would be an attraction because it would be a convenient way of purchasing food and groceries, it wouldn’t serve a larger purpose within the community.

As I brainstormed more ideas, I thought of placing a boutique fashion store on one side of the building along the street. This would allow students and professors from FIT to be tenants in the building and to put their fashion on display or for sale. That relationship between the college and the storefront would create a destination point for all faculty, staff, students, and people of the neighborhood to come together and celebrate the work and talent of FIT. At the same time, tenants of the building will be able to engage and explore fashion by passing the store or interacting with the designers.

On the opposite side of the building, I brainstormed the idea of designing a bookstore that sells both new and used books. This store would attract the faculty, staff, and students from FIT as well as locals from the neighborhood and tenants living above. By selling both new and used books, the books would be affordable and tenants would also be able to use the space as if it were a library.

Between both the fashion boutique and the bookstore would be a large entrance and lobby for tenants of the building. The entryway and lobby will be designed similar to other new high rise luxury condominiums in NYC. This design idea will remove the stigma of public housing projects as being a place of lower quality people, materials, and money. The larger space will also be used for events and displays that support the tenants’ needs and livelihood. Tenants will enter the building, pass through the lobby and check-in person, enter the elevator core, and to their apartments. On the opposite side of the building, there will be four additional apartments.

Ground Floor Façade Design

After figuring out the programs on the ground floor of the building, the next design issue was the exterior façade that would enclose the ground floor. The façade of the apartments are smooth concrete walls with a painted plaster interior finish. Structurally, the building is supported by concrete shear walls and floors. So how does the building meet the ground?

At first, I thought of designing a glazed curtainwall façade that would make the heavy massing above appear to float over the sidewalk. However, once I modeled the glazed curtainwall façade, it had no relationship to the rest of the building. So I went back to the drawing board and brainstormed several more ideas.

Ultimately, I decided to carry the concrete façade down to the ground, use large openings that would be infilled with glazed curtainwalls similar to the apartments above, and large fixed windows. This design would maintain the materiality and rhythm of the remainder of the building.

Next Steps

My goal for the upcoming week is to focus on designing the public spaces and the lobby space on the ground floor of the building. Once these spaces are developed, I’ll move into designing the reflected ceiling plans, placing lights, setting materials, and placing entourage for rendering. My plan is to have all of my drawings, diagrams, and renderings complete in two weeks.

Stay tuned for more!


Visualization Phase for NYC Net Zero Public Housing Project

Visualization Phase for NYC Net Zero Public Housing Project

Schematic Design for NYC Net Zero Public Housing Project

Schematic Design for NYC Net Zero Public Housing Project