SEMI-SUB-URBAN

Compact Mixed-Use Residential Development
with Ross Woolley (RNAW Architects)
Hopewell, New Jersey
Design Development

North Elevation Detail

Site Aerial [Town and surrounding farmland, via Google Earth]

Neighborhood Block Site Plan: Ground Floors

A private client’s mixed-use residential development with new apartment building, duplex row, and renovated office space, sited within an upper-middle class suburban locale.  The apartment building’s L-shaped plan carefully avoids an underground waterway that cuts diagonally across the site. 

North Elevation, E.Broad St.

The three-story, 44-unit apartment building synthesizes two competing local aesthetics: (1) the conventional residential vernacular of horizontal vinyl or fiber cement siding and Hardie trim, and (2) the renovated industrial brick style of the few larger buildings in the town.  The building’s façade is clad with reclaimed brown bricks on the ground floor, and a lighter thin-brick veneer on the floors above. 

Aerial View

Tiled portions of the flat roof serve as an outdoor lounge deck and lookout.  

Ground Floor Plan // Second Floor Plan

At the living space of each ground floor apartment unit, a modest exterior terrace is enclosed by a low wall.  There is a lobby-lounge space on every floor, with a shared kitchenette and half-bath on each of the upper floors, and bike storage plus additional tenant storage closets on the ground floor.  Targeting a scant construction budget of less than $125 per square foot, the building is erected using wood frame platform construction with concrete masonry elevator pit and stairwells. 

Elevations: North // East // Southwest Entrance

At the stacked living spaces of the upper floors, the exterior wall jogs to protrude small fiber cement-clad vertical towers that fragment the building’s horizontality. 

Block Elevation, E.Broad St.

This volumetric fragmentation attempts to respectfully acclimate the relatively large building into the context of a town composed almost exclusively of single-family residences.  

False Palimpsest

Material and economic exigencies influence the project’s façade composition, such that it inadvertently mimics a palimpsest of phased construction and renovation over time: the thin brick veneer cladding system available within the project’s budget cannot continuously span the full height of the building, and the cost-effective faded recycled bricks implemented at the ground floor might appear to precede the fresh veneer above.  This temporal layering is further amplified by the interruptions of the “Hardie towers” to the brick façade, which might be interpreted as a previously continuous monolith.  However, this false narrative is merely a residual byproduct of a desire to sensitively situate the building within its context.  

Typical Unit Floor Plans

Negotiating the requirements of the township, the client, and the financier, the apartment units are modest in size but carefully planned, with an emphasis on material and spatial sensitivity, clean construction, and above all, meaningful habitability for the occupant — our foremost constituent.  The apartments consist of one-bed/one-bath, two-bed/two-bath, and three-bedroom/two-bathroom units, with a washer-dryer closet in every unit.  Each living space is lit by large operable windows with industrial steel Juliet balconies at the upper floors.  The semi-random placement of windows along the brick façades of the bedroom spaces produces a condition where almost every unit is unique, in spite of the consistent internal logic of their plans.  

West Elevation  [Mid-summer sunset]

Southwest Entrance Elevation  [Mid-summer sunset]

Nosy Neighbor View  [Mid-summer dusk]

After receiving approval from the township’s Historic Preservation Commission, this project was paused by the client due to the global events of 2020.  The project is intended to be one of the few — if not the first — multi-unit residential developments in a town crowded with single-family dwellings.  

© Human Being Design 2022

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