Keith Labus – Design Directions
June 7, 2018
Getting a handle on the diversity of multifamily design is a tall order these days. You could easily attend three days of intensive seminars, or as an alternative, you could start by looking at just two projects.
Getting a handle on the diversity of multifamily design is a tall order these days. You could easily attend three days of intensive seminars, or as an alternative, you could start by looking at just two projects. They both fall into the multifamily category, but otherwise they are as different from one another as a manatee is from a giraffe. Yet they share a high degree of inventiveness and ambition.
First, consider One Thousand Museum, a 62-story condominium tower nearing completion in downtown Miami. Sadly, the project is the first and only residential tower in North America from the renowned architect Zaha Hadid, who died two years ago at the age of 65. As Diana Mosher relates in this month’s survey of standout designs, the 703-foot-tall building features an undulating exoskeleton that makes the project both an instant landmark and an engineering breakthrough.
In a first for a high-rise anywhere in the world, the structure employs some 5,000 lightweight glass-fiber reinforced concrete panels. The system permits spaces as wide as 40 feet between columns, creating a sense of openness in the residences. As you may have guessed, One Thousand Museum caters to the high-end customer; its condominiums reportedly go for $6 million a pop.
On the other side of the continent, KTGY Architecture + Planning is at work on a project that is the polar opposite of One Thousand Museum. Located west of downtown Los Angeles, Hope on Alvarado will serve residents who are making a transition from homelessness. KTGY Principal Keith Labus likes to refer to the style as “shipping container chic.” The straightforward but ingenious formula offers a twist on modular construction. At the heart of the project are the shipping containers cited by Labus. Modified with floor-to-ceiling windows and other elements, they are stacked by crane and equipped with interior finishes and appliances. Aedis Real Estate Group, the project’s developer, wants Hope on Alvarado to provide a model for Los Angeles and other West Coast cities, like San Diego and Seattle, with sizeable homeless populations.
I haven’t even touched on microunits, workforce housing, adaptive reuse or other areas that are sparking design innovation. Of course, not every project can offer an engineering breakthrough or a potential solution to a social issue. But the Miami tower and the L.A. transitional housing exemplify what can happen when highly motivated developers and designers put their ingenuity to work on big challenges.