As an exponent of Vertical Mobility, nothing pleases me more than to see a new complex that follows this philosophy and does so in an interesting, creative manner. The project in the photo above was developed by a coalition of churches on a 45-acre former landfill in East Brooklyn. It is reminiscent of earlier New York Brownstones, though the design is contemporary. And best of all, from a would-be owner's standpoint, 1600-square-foot units were offered for as little as $158,000. At that price I would gladly move to Brooklyn, if US Immigration would let me. Hey guys... you gave me a green card once; could I please have another one?
What also caught my eye in this New York Times article was mention that the development utilised prefabricated construction. I'm a big fan of factory made buildings, believing that mass production is the key to affordable housing. Living as I do in a part of North America where trees are plentiful and therefore dominate all new low rise construction, it sometimes disturbs me to watch the slow, traditional method of assembling homes. I'm convinced that the future of Vertical Mobility can be enhanced by adapting new methods, designed to cut costs as well as reduce construction times.
Perhaps developers worry that prefabricated buildings will lead to uninspired designs and lack diversity. I disagree, for there are numerous examples that prove otherwise. The designer of the Nehemiah Spring Creek project, architect Alexander Gorlen, has demonstrated how an entire street of townhomes (or row houses, if you prefer) can be made interesting through subtle differences in colour and shapes. It is not shockingly different, just enough to attract the eye and make the street seem like a desirable place to live. The New York Times article, by architectural historian and critic Jayne Merkel, contains several other examples of dramatic new energy efficient buildings. I love her concluding sentence: "Perhaps as people learn to live with less, they will value innovative design even more." Amen.