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Big House / Small City: Reimagining the SRO - 6.25.12
01:55:55

Big House / Small City: Reimagining the SRO - 6.25.12

The dense urban SRO (single room occupancy) housing work of Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architect has been described by The New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman as “serious architecture” which “…lends dignity to what at least used to be a byword for urban pariah and a building type that often resembled a prison.” Using the supportive housing model of densely-packed mini-dwelling units -the contemporary equivalent to the SRO- combined with large congregate program spaces, Kirschenfeld’s recent work recalls Alberti’s dictum “…the city is like some large house and the house in turn like some small city…”. Shoehorned into the left-over interstitial sites available to his budget-restricted not-for-profit housing clients, the six buildings that Kirschenfeld will present adapt the same program mix to alternately trapezoidal, curved, narrow-and-deep, or through-lots sites, with a great variety of results. Collectively these examples break new ground and offer an important case study in remnant urban infill. Situated somewhere between the architecture of Aldo Rossi (for whom he worked) and the infill strategies of Colin Rowe (whose work figured prominently in his architectural education) Kirschenfeld proposes a dense figured-fabric to serve the fragile single populations his buildings serve. Yet within this typology he also suggests, with his R8 team for the Citizen’s Housing and Policy Council /Architectural League ‘Making Room’ initiative, that this housing type could also help retain the “creative class” priced out of the city’s escalating residential market. The presentation will trace earlier housing models for ‘philanthropic’ housing for the poor and working class, expand on his own built supportive housing work, and conclude with his R8 proposal for the Grand Concourse. Frederic Schwartz, FAIA will introduce Jonathan Kirschenfeld and moderate a discussion. Organized by: AIANY Housing Committee