Chelsea Gardens: Affordable Housing on the High Line

Fall 2017 | Professor Jonathan Kline 

This project focuses on bringing affordable housing back to the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, in New York City. Over the past 10 years, the once working-class neighborhood has become a luxury town, filled with starchitect towers. This is due to the incredibly popular High Line Park. This project breaks the exclusionary nature of the area by putting low-income housing right on the High Line.

The city-owned warehouse on the land makes this site realistic for affordable housing. The Gansevoort Market is the last meatpacking warehouse in the borough and supplies meat to Lower Manhattan. The city desperately needs to keep this in use, but they can build on top of it.

Designing this building was an interesting and rewarding challenge. It taught me that there are many different and innovative ways to make housing affordable. The answer does not need to be a repeated and bare-minimum apartment structure like most low-income housing blocks.

Affordability Tactics

To make the building affordable for residents, programs were added that would help lower the cost of living. As a source of revenue for the whole building, there is a grocery store on the High Line level of the building. This store would sell meat from the warehouse and fresh produce from the greenhouses on the upper floors. Groceries would be discounted for residents, creating an affordable food source close to home. The greenhouses would also sell their extra produce to restaurants and groceries in the area. There are also retail spaces that are accessible from the High Line. The building would profit from the rent of these spaces.

The building is also modularly constructed, and many apartments can be separated to allow for subletting.

Interlocking Apartments

The apartments on floors 6 and above are part of a 7-unit module: 4 micro units, 2 micro-loft units, and 2 two-bedroom apartments. This design allows egress to only run every 3 floors. The largest properties in the module are the duplexes that consist of 1 two-bedroom and 1 micro units. The micro-unit can be part of the apartment and used as an extra bedroom, a study, or storage. It can also be completely separated and rented. Generating an income for the family. 

Duplex Owned Micro Unit Being Sublet | 300 SF

Duplex with Greenhouse Sunroom | 1300SF

Entrance Level

Upper Level

Loft Micro Units | 468 SF

Entrance Level

Upper Level

Separate Micro Units | 300 SF

Duplex with Terrace | 1050SF

Duplex Owned Micro Unit Being used as an Extra Bedroom | 300 SF

Upper Level

Entrance Level

Unique But Efficient

The micro-units are built without kitchens and large living spaces. This saves on building costs but also helps to strengthen the building’s community. Residents on these floors can use the floor’s communal kitchens and spaces.

The units are also constructed from 12x25 prefabricated modules. The greenhouses create a unique space within the apartment, allowing for sunrooms that are encased in greenery.

Sectional Perspective Through Interlocking Units and Greenhouses

View into Greenhouse Sunroom

The façade is inspired by the original architecture of the Meat Packing District. A grid of brick and metal panels line the building.

East Elevation

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© 2018 by ANNABELLE SWAIN