Apartments and condominiums are being built everywhere in Pittsburgh. Rents are going up quickly but a substantial portion of our city’s community is being left behind. Students and the elderly find themselves having to commute long distances to access resources. In particular, members of minority groups are getting squeezed out of neighborhoods where they may have lived for generations. Gentrification has produced crippling results as displaced residents suffer psychological trauma and a loss of social organization.

Our response is this LEED Silver project, which features a cooperative living arrangement in which potential residents purchase ownership shares in an organization that owns the entire property, providing an affordable alternative to owning their own home. Every resident has their own bedroom but shares kitchens, dining, laundry, and living areas with two others.

 

We’ve added two restaurants to our building program because in this part of Oakland a project that combines ground floor retail with housing above is the highest and best use. Mixed use developments feature lower infrastructure costs, increased tax revenue, and reduced traffic compared to single use projects. Also they create less pollution. The parking is provided by a semi-automatic “puzzle” parking system company. The structure features four wood framed floors supported by a two story concrete block and steel base.

 

As the project developed we moved from an architecture of mass to one of glass in order to express the connection of the project interior to the outdoors. By making the project more transparent, we were able to better connect residents visually with the surrounding community. Also, we developed a series of totemic “light columns” on the Craig Street front facade, visible both indoors and from outside, that enhance the connection at night when the effect is particularly visible. Our renderings demonstrate that both the light filled residential units and the common areas have been carefully designed according to the WELL standard of “improving comfort, driving better choices, and generally enhancing, not compromising, health and wellness.”

 

We made every effort to design an affordable high density, multifunctional environment that is physically attractive. However, this project has been on hold for two years and is unlikely to move ahead in its current form.