New Housing Prototypes

New Housing Prototypes


Jessica Turnbull, Chris Oliver, Manyan Lam, Loren Yu, Jesus Yepez Mendoza


Midtown, New York, NY, United States

40.7549309 | -73.98401949999999

Project date


Commissioned last year to investigate new housing prototypes for New York City’s changing demographics, we chose to concentrate on innovative ways to re-use existing building stock. Large numbers of commercial office buildings built during the 1960’s and ‘70’s, at a time of abundant energy and technological optimism, are now approaching the end of their useful life. Working with a typical midtown office tower as a case study, we maintain the conventional organization of the tower around its existing cores while introducing a spiraling garden/atrium running from street level to the upper floors. The spiral garden carves out a network of public spaces to which public programs are connected while also acting as an alternative means of circulation for the entire tower.

The project experiments with a variety of residential types and relationships between commercial, residential and leisure activities. At the upper levels of the building, the higher floor-to-floor dimensions of the existing structure allow the insertion of three residential floors within two office floors, yielding a flexible matrix of living units, from duplexes for families to micro-units for singles. The shifted section creates a new urban typology that allows both proximity and separation of activities: living and office spaces sometimes share single floors yet can function independently. At the lower levels a new single-room occupancy layout was conceived: the Urban Cabins, in which individual units are combined with generous collective facilities, housed within a new base for the tower which restores the street wall and counters the urban and social isolation of the 1960s tower.

As a sustainable strategy, our proposal conserves the energy embedded in the original structure—carbon units spent many decades ago—at the same time as it serves a more diverse and mobile population living and working in the city today.

Floor plans grid