In my previous post, I spoke about the generalities of my new professional endeavor, but I did not get too specific. I figured I would explain a little more about what we are doing in this post. I did, however, also write that I am not going to use this blog to talk about our projects. With that said, this will be the only one that gets specific, and I have started a parallel blog with StreetScape Development. This will document School Street, as well as our future concepts and developments. So I urge you all to check out StreetScape Blog to follow the construction of our “Not So Big” single family homes and the school building conversion into lofts.
I am now working for StreetScape development, and we are attempting to take back the building by delivering well designed homes to the masses. This begins with the School Street development. Here we are building a working laboratory for defining the rulesets to deliver controlled customization in housing. On this particular project we are working with a “Bungalow Style” home, but the principles of the ruleset and library will carry through as we continue to develop new design systems.
At the heart of it is a basic principle to streamline the design process into a flexible, rule-based, system… just like what my thesis proposes. Where it gets really exciting is that the person who is guiding our rulesets is none other than Sarah Susanka. Widely considered one the most accomplished residential architects of the last two decades, Sarah’s success stems from her incredible ability to communicate with the consumer, and deliver them creative design solutions to fit their lifestyle.
Sarah’s numerous books have communicated spatial design principles to homeowners in new and friendly ways. She has broken the stigma of architectural arrogance that Frank Lloyd Wright and other greats of the 20th century have created. Architecture should be a choice in which the homeowner is involved, and Sarah has found a way to do this efficiently without compromising good design principles. Sarah’s tremendous knowledge-base of prior successes and lessons learned is also an invaluable resource to defining our rulesets.
At StreetScape we hope to incorporate this way of communication and buyer input into a robust, efficient, and quality system of home delivery.
At the same time, we have a parallel laboratory for the conversion of existing structures into usable spaces for modern living. This begins with the School Street Lofts project. Here we are converting a 1939 school building into 15 lofts. Repositioning of existing buildings is a very sustainable approach to housing development, and we hope to crack the code for this process as well. There are numerous challenges to retrofitting an 80 year building, of course, and the largest hurdle is energy efficiency.
With the invention of air conditioning, the physics of building construction had to change tremendously. When introducing air conditioning into an 80 year old building and changing the use of it… the balance of the physics is totally out of whack. We then have to come up with some very creative solutions to bring the building back into harmony with its environment.
Of course the economics of building a multi-family are tricky these days too. Unless we sell all of our units prior to construction, we will be dealing with some spec units as we move forward. This means that we need to introduce very specific rulesets and library systems to allow adjustments for future customers. The idea is to build a system that could be adapted for use in many other retrofits.
I think all of this is very exciting, and I look forward to seeing where it leads. So if you find it interesting as well (if nothing else, the story of a successful residential development in 2011 is a hell of a headline) please subscribe to the StreetScape blog and you’ll get frequent updates on our progress.