Top Notch Affordable Housing

Top Notch Affordable Housing

Guest Blog by Lauren Mandel, green roof designer, author of Eat UP!

Multimedia from this Release

photo by Jeff Warschauer

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 8:00am



Watch out America, there’s a new breed of affordable housing in town.  Nestled in the Morrisania neighborhood of the Bronx, the Arbor House is reshaping the way cities envision low-income housing projects.  The eight story apartment building opened its doors to New York City’s low-income population in February 2013 with designers, developers and policy makers watching with anticipation.  What’s so unique about this development?  The LEED Platinum-certified building is topped with a 10,000 square foot (0.2 acre) hydroponic farm.

The 120,000 square foot building, designed by New York-based ABS Architects and developed by Blue Sea Development Co., includes 124 apartments designated for low-income households earning less than 60% of the area median income, or $49,800 for a family of four.  Twenty-five percent of the units are reserved for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents.  Unlike the neighborhood’s sea of two-story public housing buildings built by NYCHA in the mid-1950s, Arbor House rises tall and contains building features generally associated with high-end development.  In addition to the rooftop farm the building features a living wall, air filtration systems, local and recycled construction materials, low and zero VOC finishes, indoor and outdoor exercise areas, and art and music clad stairwells to promote walking.  The building lies in one of New York City’s worst districts for asthma and obesity, so exercise and fresh food access were project priorities.

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Image Credit: Jeff Warschauer

Lauren Mandel, ASLA, is a green roof designer and author of EAT UP | The Inside Scoop on Rooftop Agriculture (New Society Publishers 2013), the first full-length book about rooftop food production.