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ADUs Might Not Be Making Chicago More Affordable, But They Might Make It More Sustainable

There hasn’t exactly been an explosion of new accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in Chicago since its city council passed an ADU pilot ordinance in 2020, which allows for new coach houses and basement or attic renovations to add additional units in certain parts of the city. The ordinance intends to allow homeowners to make multigenerational living arrangements or extra income with their existing property; proponents also advocated for ADUs as a means to build more affordable housing—a principle ye

A New Website Is Trying to Convince You That Housing Can Be “Awesome and Affordable”

While working for Los Angeles radio station KCRW, Frances Anderton, who hosted the popular show DnA: Design and Architecture from 2002 to 2020, would frequently speak with proponents and opponents of ballot initiatives and design projects that promoted higher-density apartments. During those interviews, she noticed something particular: Even those firmly set in the "YIMBY" camp seemed to express a quiet disdain for multifamily housing. "I would get an undertone in the conversation—there is a h

Is Rent Getting Cheaper in 2024? It's Complicated

Though the latter half of 2023 showed cooling rental markets after a pandemic spike, a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) has peeled back the layers of the United States’ housing crisis, connecting rent affordability with increases in unhoused populations. Published last week, America’s Rental Housing 2024 takes the temperature of recent fluctuations in the rental market, reporting changes in the number of those who are rent-burdened and those who are experiencing

How to Keep New York’s Floating Swimming Pool From Being an Island for the Rich

As of this month, New Yorkers are officially, after 14 years, closer than ever to swimming in the East River—legally and safely, of course. The + POOL, a first-of-its-kind floating urban swimming pool, has had a long history of fits, starts, and development , as Dwell chronicled recently. But when Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the project would receive a whopping $16 million of state and local funding to bring it to fruition, architect Dong-Ping Wong —who conceived of the floating urban a

An Almost 14-Year Timeline of New York City’s Hypothetical Floating Pool

Good things come to those who wait, but as climate change heats up our cities, breaking record temperatures year after year, how long should we wait for a swimming pool? For + POOL, that would be, well, nearly 14 years. An open-air pool designed to float on New York City’s East River that would provide much-needed water recreation while also filtering hundreds of thousands of gallons of polluted water into "swimmable" quality, so much time has passed since the project’s public introduction one w

Would Blocking Private Equity From Buying Homes Really Fix the Housing Shortage?

It is becoming increasingly harder to own a home in America. That is, unless you’re private equity. In recent years, companies have been buying up the nation’s housing supply unchecked, with Wall Street becoming a leading buyer in the single-family market. According to a report from Stateline, nearly 22 percent of single-family home purchases were made by corporate entities within the past year. CNBC claims that by 2030, institutional investors will own nearly 40 percent of the nation’s single-f

Charcoal, Mushrooms, and More Become Building Parts for a South Chicago Artist Residency

Close to the Illinois–Indiana border, where Chicago’s steelyards once churned out the materials that built modern America, now sits a bustling 14-acre urban farm. Nestled in the South Chicago neighborhood within Clara D. Schafer Park, the site is one of eight farms operated by Urban Growers Collective (UGC). The organization has produced more than 19,000 pounds of fresh produce this year to serve residents living under food apartheid, a term used to describe systemic, segregation access to nutri

HUD Finds Discrimination in Chicago’s Public Housing Development

In a letter reported on by the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) detailed the findings of a recent probe into the city’s affordable housing development practices. According to the Sun-Times, HUD found that the city has wrongly denied the development of new affordable housing through the tool of "aldermanic prerogative." A hotly contested reality for all Chicagoans, aldermanic prerogative effectively enables alderpeople to veto afforda

New York City Might… Pay You to Build an ADU?

In a new initiative that launched this week, New York City residential building owners could begin receiving financial support to construct new accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The Plus One ADU pilot program provides up to $395,000 to up to 15 eligible single-family homeowners seeking to add a small home to their property by creating a detached unit, basement unit, attic unit, or garage property, or by rehabbing an existing basement unit. According to a New York Times story, the program will ta

Uneven playing fields: untold stories of starting a practice

When established architects speak of their practice’s beginnings, they often speak of the recession‑driven layoffs that led to opening their own studio, or their disillusionment with corporate firm life. Through hard work and diligent financial management, they built their practice from the ground up. We love that story: an underdog story, a narrative of triumph and overcomings. Few practice founders, however, communicate the conditions in which they were able to begin their businesses; personal

Biennial as experimentation

In 2017, a barge drifted along the Chicago River. It wasn’t carrying the usual Ozinga concrete or gravel; instead it floated a museum. Produced by the Floating Museum, an interdisciplinary collective comprised of architect Andrew Schachman, artists Faheem Majeed and Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, and poet avery r. young, the museum barge showcased artwork from dozens of local and national artists. But for those lingering along the Chicago Riverwalk, the barge’s approach was announced by song: every

Los Angeles Is Giving Away Plans for a Pre-Approved ADU

Last week, the City of Los Angeles rolled out a new tool to address the city’s housing crisis. The You ADU, designed by Lehrer Architects and Kadre Architects, is a one-bedroom accessory dwelling unit engineered to be built inexpensively and extensively across the city, providing an opportunity to densify single-family home lots. The design is "pre-approved" using the city’s Standard Plan Program: Developed in 2021 by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LDBS) alongside the city’s

The Butterfly Effect | Tamir Rice Memorial Butterfly Garden

A memorial garden for a 12-year-old victim of police violence becomes a springboard for serving generations of children. I arrived at the Marion C. Seltzer Elementary School playground around 11:00 a.m., just before the day’s heat peaked. It was a Friday, and students were making the short commute between the elementary school and the Cudell Recreation Center, located just a stone’s throw northwest. A group of toddlers had gathered with their teachers—likely a preschool daycare—along a bench th

Deem’s symposium gathered presenters with community-oriented practices

The brainworms that grow in your head after being around architects can, after a few years, reshape how you see the world. After sitting through talks and presentations by architects and design professionals—those “do-gooders” who tout low-bono work for the “underserved”—I began to question the word dignity. In design, dignity is too often presented as something to be provided to or conferred upon others; designing low-income housing or public schools gives dignity to those who, presenters seem

At RISD, Examining the Past to Celebrate Design for All Bodies

The to accommodate those with disabilities doesn’t bode well for the aging baby boomer population; our existing housing shortage, combined with elders’ desires to age independently, requires new solutions to accessible housing that can accommodate bodies of all abilities. Architect and Rhode Island School of Design professor Marc Harrison created one such option in 1973 through the ILZRO house—a modular, fully-accessible single-family dwelling. Now, 50 years later, RISD students, led by design h

For Crows, By Humans

Walter Hood reflects on what corvids can teach us. Crows—although they share a predilection for scavenging human food waste alongside other urban avian “pests” such as pigeons—carry a more mischievous reputation. The National Audubon Society cites their incredible intelligence and documented cases of the birds using tools, holding grudges, and performing funerals. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Walter Hood, the creative director and founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, California, bega
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