David Baker Architects

DBA DESIGN PRINCIPLES

9 Ways to Build Community with Urban Housing


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PDF IconDba 9-ways

Interested in sporting one (or more) of the 9 Ways icons? Lapel pins are available for a small donation to the Coalition on Homelessness. Please write to info@dbarchitect.com for details. 

 

 

 

This project is part of  "By the People: Designing a Better America"—an exhibit of socially responsible design at the Cooper Hewitt in New York City through February 26, 2017. 

In "Housing for All", a Design Talk accompanying the exhibition, David Baker speaks about the 9 Ways principles and shares a stage with Rosanne Haggerty, president of Community Solutions.  


DBA has developed this suite of elegant, economical, and human-centric design strategies to support high quality of living for residents and neighbors alike. Our "9 Ways" range from large-scale thinking beyond the property line to intimate moves that honor each unit as someone's home, a place to grow and celebrate.

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Bridging a residential-industrial divide, this bright new LEED Gold neighborhood replaces decrepit public housing, an abandoned pasta factory, and defuct train tracks. Image: Bruce Damonte

 

01. Reweave the Urban Fabric

Create, repair, and enhance connections within existing neighborhoods.

Isolated local amenities--such as the library, school, and park--were connected by new landscaped paths and traffic-calmed roads. Image: David Baker Architects

An urban freeway collapse and removal left behind a scar of damaged lots. 300 Ivy Street's contextual urban housing with pedestrian-friendly retail helps heal the fractured area. Image: Bruce Damonte

At Armstrong Place, housing and services revive a disused industrial block near a transit line with access to downtown. Mid-block passages add gathering spaces and safe pedestrian connections.

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An elliptical tower with a ground-floor cafe space transforms the narrowest corner of the site into a dramatic point of entry. Image: Brian Rose

 

02. Make Big Moves

Design a bold and interesting building form. 

 

A strong architectural form lends a building a sense of place and character without needing to rely on materials. Image: David Baker Architects

A three-story portal frames access to the plaza, playground, and residential entryway. Image: Bruce Damonte

This building "steps down" toward the adjacent lake, easing a transition between existing high-rises and low-scale residences and creating space for a fifth-level community suite with panoramic views. Image: Bruce Damonte

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Image: Bruce Damonte

 

03. A Little Goes a Long Way

Concentrate premium materials at points of shared enjoyment. Keep it simple everywhere else. 

 

The "80-20 Rule": Build 80 percent of the design with economical, durable, and low-maintenance materials. Create impact with 20 percent high-end finishes. Image: David Baker Architects

A rich copper ($75/sf) and hardwood ($50/sf) entry and custom planter create focal points at the center of an otherwise straightforward construction of stucco ($18/sf) and fiber-cement panels ($30/sf). Image: Bruce Damonte

Hand-cut boulders ($150/sf) highlight a predominantly concrete ($9/sf) plaza. A custom Cor-Ten steel stair tower ($75/sf) sets off the corner of this stucco ($18/sf) building. Image: Mariko Reed

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Setting the building back creates more room for community: This recessed ground floor and widened sidewalk combine to feature a vibrant restaurant (Monsieur Benjamin, designed by Aidlin Darling), street seating, bicycle parking, and plantings. Image: Bruce Damonte

 

04. Activate the Edges

Energize the streetscape with a generous, mixed-use ground floor. 

 

Residential stoops create direct and lively connections to the neighborhood on all sides of the building. Image: Bruce Damonte

Prioritizing active uses like shops, stoops, and seating--rather than blank walls and garage facades--keeps the surrounding sidewalks safe and engaging. Image: David Baker Architects

ACTIVATE EDGES: CCA Hubbell Street Galleries

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Set away from the busy corner, this entry provides an accessible "front porch" for the building. Image: Bruce Damonte

 

05. Be Welcoming

Set a positive tone with a bright and engaging entryway.  

 

A transparent lobby provides a peek into the life of the building and the central courtyard beyond. Image: Bruce Damonte

A glass and steel gate balances security and transparency. Planters extend outward toward the public realm. Image: Bruce Damonte

An illuminated artisan gate opens into a "decompression garden," a quiet green space for transitioning between the gritty city street and home. Image: Cesar Rubio

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Image: Bruce Damonte

 

06. Cultivate Connection

Place compatible uses together to add convenience and support social encounters. 

 

Flexible spaces support a wide range of activities. Here, residents gather after a cooking class in the community kitchen while kids play. Image: Mariko Reed

A multipurpose community room opens widely onto the central courtyard, which offers bicycle parking, seating, a grill, and access to the community kitchen, laundry room, resident lounge, and on-site counseling clinic. Image: Bruce Damonte

Connecting high-use spaces creates opportunities for chance meetings, decreasing isolation. Thoughtful adjacencies make daily life easier. Image: David Baker Architects

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Open-air stairs and corridors entice residents away from the elevator and offer views out to the surrounding area.Image: Bruce Damonte

 

07. Enlightened Circulation

Bring light and fresh air into hallways and stairs to connect with nature and encourage walking.

"Green" open-air stairs and other outdoor circulation connect the building entry, apartments, and open spaces. Image: David Baker Architects

Ample glazing and transparent walls bring in natural light from all directions. Image: Bruce Damonte

Breezeways provide sheltered passage throughout the building, and balconies and patios connect directly to the courtyard. Image: Mariko Reed

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Image: Brian Rose

 

08. Get Personal

Reflect the character of the community and offer opportunities for expression. 

 

Basketry from Botswana inspired the window graphics for this new building in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. Image: Bruce Damonte

Front-door photo shelves and lobby display areas allow residents to make their mark. Image: Bruce Damonte

To honor the history of the site, this courtyard is "wrapped" with a "quilt wall" inspired by West African textiles and oversized adinkra symbols (signifying wisdom, unity, and security). Image: Brian Rose

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Image: Bruce Damonte

 

09. Art for All

Use artwork to invigorate common spaces, help with way-finding, and create a strong visual identity.

 

A four-story shield sculpture inspired by fractal geometry adds texture to the residential entryway. Image: Bruce Damonte

“Taking Root”--a towering mural created by artist Mona Caron with help from building residents--blooms in the public entry plaza. Image: Bruce Damonte

Bridging a residential-industrial divide, this bright new LEED Gold neighborhood replaces decrepit public housing, an abandoned pasta factory, and defuct train tracks. Image: Bruce Damonte

Image: Bruce Damonte

Isolated local amenities--such as the library, school, and park--were connected by new landscaped paths and traffic-calmed roads. Image: David Baker Architects

An urban freeway collapse and removal left behind a scar of damaged lots. 300 Ivy Street's contextual urban housing with pedestrian-friendly retail helps heal the fractured area. Image: Bruce Damonte

At Armstrong Place, housing and services revive a disused industrial block near a transit line with access to downtown. Mid-block passages add gathering spaces and safe pedestrian connections.

An elliptical tower with a ground-floor cafe space transforms the narrowest corner of the site into a dramatic point of entry. Image: Brian Rose

A strong architectural form lends a building a sense of place and character without needing to rely on materials. Image: David Baker Architects

Image: Brian Rose

A three-story portal frames access to the plaza, playground, and residential entryway. Image: Bruce Damonte

This building "steps down" toward the adjacent lake, easing a transition between existing high-rises and low-scale residences and creating space for a fifth-level community suite with panoramic views. Image: Bruce Damonte

Image: Bruce Damonte

A swooping corner volume clad in metal and wood defines the building, while basic materials make up the bulk of the construction. Image: Bruce Damonte

The "80-20 Rule": Build 80 percent of the design with economical, durable, and low-maintenance materials. Create impact with 20 percent high-end finishes. Image: David Baker Architects

A rich copper ($75/sf) and hardwood ($50/sf) entry and custom planter create focal points at the center of an otherwise straightforward construction of stucco ($18/sf) and fiber-cement panels ($30/sf). Image: Bruce Damonte

Hand-cut boulders ($150/sf) highlight a predominantly concrete ($9/sf) plaza. A custom Cor-Ten steel stair tower ($75/sf) sets off the corner of this stucco ($18/sf) building. Image: Mariko Reed

Setting the building back creates more room for community: This recessed ground floor and widened sidewalk combine to feature a vibrant restaurant (Monsieur Benjamin, designed by Aidlin Darling), street seating, bicycle parking, and plantings. Image: Bruce Damonte

Image: Bruce Damonte

Prioritizing active uses like shops, stoops, and seating--rather than blank walls and garage facades--keeps the surrounding sidewalks safe and engaging. Image: David Baker Architects

ACTIVATE EDGES: CCA Hubbell Street Galleries

Residential stoops create direct and lively connections to the neighborhood on all sides of the building. Image: Bruce Damonte

A public plaza linking the sidewalk with the community room creates a flexible, multi-use space for the larger neighborhood. Image: Mariko Reed

Set away from the busy corner, this entry provides an accessible "front porch" for the building. Image: Bruce Damonte

Image: Bruce Damonte

A glass and steel gate balances security and transparency. Planters extend outward toward the public realm. Image: Bruce Damonte

A transparent lobby provides a peek into the life of the building and the central courtyard beyond. Image: Bruce Damonte

An illuminated artisan gate opens into a "decompression garden," a quiet green space for transitioning between the gritty city street and home. Image: Cesar Rubio

Image: Bruce Damonte

Connecting high-use spaces creates opportunities for chance meetings, decreasing isolation. Thoughtful adjacencies make daily life easier. Image: David Baker Architects

Image: Bruce Damonte

A multipurpose community room opens widely onto the central courtyard, which offers bicycle parking, seating, a grill, and access to the community kitchen, laundry room, resident lounge, and on-site counseling clinic. Image: Bruce Damonte

Flexible spaces support a wide range of activities. Here, residents gather after a cooking class in the community kitchen while kids play. Image: Mariko Reed

Open-air stairs and corridors entice residents away from the elevator and offer views out to the surrounding area.Image: Bruce Damonte

"Green" open-air stairs and other outdoor circulation connect the building entry, apartments, and open spaces. Image: David Baker Architects

Image: Bruce Damonte

Ample glazing and transparent walls bring in natural light from all directions. Image: Bruce Damonte

Breezeways provide sheltered passage throughout the building, and balconies and patios connect directly to the courtyard. Image: Mariko Reed

Image: Brian Rose

Individual garden plots give residents a chance to grow their own food and get their hands dirty. Image: Brian Rose

Basketry from Botswana inspired the window graphics for this new building in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. Image: Bruce Damonte

Front-door photo shelves and lobby display areas allow residents to make their mark. Image: Bruce Damonte

To honor the history of the site, this courtyard is "wrapped" with a "quilt wall" inspired by West African textiles and oversized adinkra symbols (signifying wisdom, unity, and security). Image: Brian Rose

Image: Bruce Damonte

An existing mosaic mural on the adjacent structure was preserved, framed by the courtyard, and showcased for the enjoyment of all. Image: Bruce Damonte

A licensing partnership with Creativity Explored--a non-profit studio for developmentally disabled artists--makes dramatic, large-scale works affordable. Image: Matt Edge

A four-story shield sculpture inspired by fractal geometry adds texture to the residential entryway. Image: Bruce Damonte

“Taking Root”--a towering mural created by artist Mona Caron with help from building residents--blooms in the public entry plaza. Image: Bruce Damonte