Making Room at the Museum of the City of New York

In the fall of 2009, we attended and recapped One Size Fits Some, a symposium at the Japan Society convened by the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Council (CHPC). The event brought together six architects from Tokyo, Barcelona, San Diego, Montreal, and Leipzig to share insights on designing and planning compact, shared, and flexible housing to meet the shifting demands of dynamic 21st century urban demographics. The goal was to begin a dialogue here in New York City that would foment changes to our existing framework of housing regulations, many of which constrict the ability of designers and developers to deliver housing units that meet the needs of contemporary households.

In the three years since then, that dialogue has moved along swiftly, helped by CHPC’s broad-based research and advocacy initiative called Making Room. An important part of that initiative was a design study for which CHPC partnered with the Architectural League to invite teams of designers to design prototypical housing models, innovative units that in many cases would currently be prohibited by outdated codes and regulations. Some of the designs proposed in this design study will be presented at an exhibition, Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers, that opens this week at at the Museum of the City of New York and will run from January 23rd through September 15th.

In 2011, an original Urban Omnibus-produced video served as an introduction to the issues and historical context of the issues behind the Making Room project, offering answers to understandable questions, like why should New Yorkers care about housing regulations? How do codes and standards — which exist to ensure health and safety — affect the price of real estate, the growth of illegal subdivisions, and limit the housing choices available to New Yorkers? And now in 2013, with local policy experiments like adaptNYC and similar propositions for micro-housing emerging around the country, the time has come to reflect on tangible models, both those proposed for New York and those produced in other cities. At the exhibition, in addition to seeing models and drawings from the 2011 design study, visitors will be able to explore a full-scale, flexibly furnished micro-studio of 325 square feet.

Additionally, two of the public programs that are accompanying this exhibition will be of particular interest to Omnibus readers and are co-sponsored by the Architectural League. The first, this Thursday, takes a cross-cultural look at small home design.

Living Small at Home and Abroad
As the population of the world’s largest cities continues to outpace the available supply of land, housing, and environmental resources, we must all learn how to live small. What can the experience of cities around the world teach us about living well — both efficiently and comfortably — within smaller and shared spaces? Join us for a lively discussion with four distinguished architects and designers to discuss the latest innovations in small home design around the world: Azby Brown, founder of the Future Design Institute in Tokyo; Pierluigi Colombo, founder of the Italian transformable furniture company Clei.s.r.l; Ted Smith, a leader in the movement for shared housing in California and beyond; and Nadine Maleh, who has years of experience designing supportive housing here in New York City for Common Ground Communities. Rosalie Genevro, Executive Director of the Architectural League of New York, will moderate.

Thursday, January 24th, 2013
The Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street

The second, on Thursday, February 7 at 6:30 pm, is a conversation between Eric Klinenberg, a leading urban sociologist whose previous work includes Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, and CHPC’s Jerilyn Perine, former commissioner of New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), who conceived and has directed the Making Room project.

Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone
More than 30% of the world’s population lives alone, and that percentage is growing daily. How is this profound demographic shift transforming the economic and cultural life of cities around the globe? Join NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg, the author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (Penguin, 2012), and Jerilyn Perine, Director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, for a discussion about the rise of single adults in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and other world metropolises — and its implications for urban life as (we think) we know it today.

Thursday, February 7th, 2013
The Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street

Reservations are required for both programs. Tickets are $6 for Architectural League and Museum of the City of New York members, $8 for seniors and students, and $12 for the general public. Purchase tickets through the Museum of the City of New York’s events page or by calling 212.534.1672. To receive the League member discount, use code: AL207.


The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.