Fred Wilson (venture capitalist) and Joanne Wilson (also an investor) have been working on a passive house apartment building in Brooklyn for the last five years. Their development company is called Frame Home. And this past week they received a pretty great Christmas gift in the form of a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy from NYC Buildings.
At 5 storeys and with only 10 two-bedroom units, you could classify this building as the kind “missing middle” housing that gets so much air time here in Toronto. And so not only have they managed to build relatively small, but they’ve done it using passive house design principles.
Here are some of the apartment building’s features:
- Cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure
- Passive house design approach
- Triple-pane windows
- Interior polished and insulated concrete walls (presumably to act as a thermal mass to moderate heating/cooling throughout the year)
- Solar panels installed on the upper facade and roof (passive house design should, in theory, allow these to supply a big chunk of the building’s energy needs)
- No fossil fuels used throughout the building — everything is electrical
- Fully sub-metered units
- Outdoor circulation spaces/stairs, providing access to a shared rooftop courtyard (I’m assuming these also serve as required egress for the building)
- Dedicated elevator entrance for every suite (i.e. no interior circulation/corridor spaces)
- Composting facilities within the building
- Bike room connected to the ground-floor lobby
There’s also a co-working and community space planned for the ground floor called “Framework.” Interestingly enough, they have already responded to the current pandemic. Instead of open-air desks, you rent fully enclosed 8′ x 8′ pods that are sound-proofed and come with their own HVAC systems.
Congratulations Fred and Joanne on such an exciting and pioneering project. (I would love to see the development pro forma!) If you’d like to learn more about Frame 283, here is their website and here is a profile that the New York Times did on the project back in January. Building with CLT is apparently prohibited in NYC. Frame 283 got an exemption.
Thank you for this!
Might you define the “missing middle” for us? When I think of Haider & Moranis’s definition (National Post, December 19, 2018), they define the missing middle as housing product that is approximately 6-18 stories tall. That product apparently makes real estate agents cranky because it is purportedly harder to sell. It is also more expensive because the high cost items (like elevators, concierges and parkades) have to be absorbed by fewer units. With this as context, it appears that your featured project is closer to the lower end of the density spectrum.
Thanks Brandon for highlighting this wonderful example.
Just one question about all the fantastic aspects to this brownstone retroPHit: Am I understanding correctly that the composting toilets means that no domestic water (or any water for that matter) is used to flush waste into the city’s sewage system? What is the City’s approach to this solution? Is there no pushback? Is that approach endorsed?