A Second Visit to CetraRuddy!

The students in the CetraRuddy Design Studio in Housing began the new semester with a visit to the CetraRuddy office. This continues the year-long collaboration between the Spitzer School of Architecture (SSA) at The City College of New York and CetraRuddy Architecture. Professors Fabian Llonch and June Williamson have selected a new set of sites in Stapleton, on the North Shore of Staten Island, to be the base for design in this semester’s studio investigation into housing.

Visit to CetraRuddy-2

The 2nd year M. Arch students listened intently as John Cetra and Nancy J. Ruddy gave a presentation on their extensive portfolio of multi-family housing work.

These are the main points made during the presentation, which students were encouraged to consider as they developed their designs:

The Role of Zoning in Promoting Creative Solutions: CetraRuddy has been adept at understanding zoning and manipulating its provisions in tall building projects, such as using the transfer of air rights to add extra FAR for a tower or working with the sky exposure plane. Nancy Ruddy emphasized, “Zoning is an opportunity for creativity; not just to build the zoning envelope.”  For example, see One Madison and 242 W. 52nd St.

Efficiency in Planning and Cost: John Cetra described the concept of net-to-gross ratios in building planning and design, and explained that the goal for a typical floor plate in housing is 90% efficiency, with an overall efficiency of 80% when the ground floor lobby and other service spaces are factored in. For examples, he pointed to 443 Greenwich and the Walker Tower.

Optimizing Apartment Designs and Providing a Good Mix: Good housing design results in a range of apartment unit types, mixed vertically and horizontally. Internal shear walls in tower design can provide more design flexibility in window openings, exposure, and views. For example, see Orion and One Madison.

Creating Community: John and Nancy outlined two kinds of community they seek to engage. The first is context, as found in the surrounding neighborhood. The second is social, programming opportunities for residents to connect and interact with one another. For example, in the courtyard and open mail room at 535 W 43rd St., and in the two complementary towers, one condominium and one rental, built together on a shared garage podium, at Hudson Greene, in New Jersey.

These are important aspects of housing design for the students to remember while they tackle this semester’s studio, as well as in their future work in the architectural field. We will continue to post and document the students’ development over the course of this fall semester. Stay tuned to the blog for progress on their research and investigations into housing on the North Shore of Staten Island!

Kiamesha Robinson, CR Studio Research/Teaching Assistant

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