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Competition: Big Ideas for Small Lots, New York City

The contest site at 113 West 136th Street, Manhattan

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has launched an international contest to redevelop a series of small sites across the Big Apple

The two-stage competition – supported by the American Institute of Architects New York – invites architect-led teams to draw up a conceptual solution which could be used to deliver affordable homes on hundreds of undeveloped infill sites owned by the city.

The contest is part of mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York (HNY) 2.0 plan which aims to create or preserve 300,000 new affordable homes by 2026. First round applications must propose a low-cost housing solution for a 155m² site at 113 West 136th Street, Manhattan.

In its brief, the department says it has ‘aggressively moved through its inventory of vacant and underutilised city-owned land to create more affordable housing. Some of the remaining inventory includes lots that are challenging to develop due to their small size. Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC is a design competition to find housing solutions for such lots, and to explore their potential to contribute to citywide affordable housing options.

‘The design competition seeks proposals with the goal of: promoting excellence in urban infill design; exploring design and construction strategies to inform quality, affordable, small-home development; demonstrating feasible, replicable housing solutions across various site and neighbourhood conditions; and engaging with and building the capacity of architects to act as critical partners in the development of city-owned vacant sites.’

New York City is the most populous settlement in the US with more than 8 million inhabitants. The city’s affordable housing programme houses more than 400,000 New Yorkers and since 1978 the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has been the main body tasked with developing and maintaining the city’s public housing stock.

The Big Ideas for Small Lots competition aims to boost the supply of small-scale affordable housing by improving the city’s capacity to redevelop hundreds of small infill plots which have so far evaded redevelopment due to costs or complexity.

Participating teams must first propose a redevelopment scheme for a small plot on West 136th Street in Harlem. A number of finalists will then receive $3,000 each to proceed to the second phase during which they will be assigned one or more city-owned sites and asked to assemble a development team.

One or more overall winners may then be awarded sites for construction in November. Judges include Hayes Slade, president of AIA New York and principal at Slade Architecture; NYC Public Design Commission executive director Justin Garrett Moore; and NYC Department of City Planning chief urban designer Claudia Herasme.

The deadline for applications is 24 March.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Email: BISLNYC@hpd.nyc.gov

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