Regional and Urban Design Committee


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The Regional and Urban Design Committee (RUDC) aims to improve the quality of the regional and urban environment by promoting excellence in design, planning, and public policy in the built environment. This will be achieved through its member and public education, in concert with allied community and professional groups. Join us!

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a challenge, designers!

  • 1.  a challenge, designers!

    Posted 02-20-2018 18:14
    While our stalwart regular writer Nick is engaging us in fantasies of flying cars, I am, with feet firmly planted in inner city Rochester NY working as the architectural guru with a collection of agency doers who want to build tiny homes for the chronically homeless here in town whose tents are regularly demolished by vigilantes and over-exuberant cops, not listening to their bosses who tell them to try to leave these poor folks alone. The City will give us vacant lots, lord knows they have plenty of them. I've been sketching ways to attach 200-250 sq ft homes so that they kinda look like a normal house; yet give each traumatized resident a sense of privacy, with minimum required interaction with others. This challenge has the potential for a competition with a prize and/or publication.
    Just imagine, you are 50 years of age or so, you kinda manage your addictions and psychoses fairly well, provided you don't get provoked by others, and are left alone. You manage to pull in occasional low paid work, or you panhandle, and all you are asking is a self contained tiny home all your own. The cost of providing that will be a fraction of the emergency services the individual will draw upon if he/she isn't housed, and we have here in Rochester the potential for philanthropy that can make this happen if we can capture their imagination.  Any takers? Just e mail this site or me at Richard Rosen, AIA

  • 2.  RE: a challenge, designers!

    Posted 02-21-2018 18:33

    Great you are active in this important matter that is a burning issue in so many cities.
    As the stalwart writer that you reference, I want to point to a 2016 article in which I provided an overview over the issue and show a few examples where what you propose has been done. A key component is involvement of those that should be served. Therefore its not really suitable for design competitions, I think. Like in the Katrina case, what the people need is not high minded design by architects coming in from the outside but empowerment and self organization and a few resources such as building materials and the lots, of course. 


    Klaus Philipsen FAIA, LEED AP
    President ArchPlan Inc.
    429 North Eutaw Street, Ste 2S
    Baltimore MD 21201
    T: 410.685.2002

    My book, Baltimore: Reinventing an Industrial Legacy City is my take on the post industrial American city and Baltimore after the unrest. 

    The book is now for sale and can currently be ordered online directly from the publisher 

    Visit my Cities, Architecture and Planning blogs "Community Architect" and "Community Architect Daily" with each over 20,000 monthly page views totalling over a million views to date.

  • 3.  RE: a challenge, designers!

    Posted 02-22-2018 10:48
    Hurray for you Richard…!

  • 4.  RE: a challenge, designers!

    Posted 02-22-2018 14:33
    I saw your post and am certainly interested.
    Please note that when i tried to respond to the email provided i received a message that the address is no longer valid.
    I can be reached at:

    Thank you.

    David Cunningham AIA
    dcap pllc
    Brooklyn NY

  • 5.  RE: a challenge, designers!

    Posted 02-23-2018 12:04
    I second the importance, the necessity of involving end users in any design process. This takes more time on our part, but we should view it as an essential part of our process. The homelessness issues is so multilayered and I always find it challenging to balance the desire to treat symptoms with the need to treat the causes of the symptoms - wages, education, mental health support, institutionalized discriminatory practices, and so on... Not to mention respecting someones desire NOT to be housed in the traditional sense. The aforementioned issues are even more of a reason to involve those that will occupy these dwellings, as these issue will (and should) undoubtedly inform the design.

    Klaus - nice article on tactical pop-ups.

    Richard - will the lots continue to be city owned one the project is complete? ​​

    Anna McCorvey, RA, LEED AP BD+C
    cox graae + spack architects
    Washington DC

  • 6.  RE: a challenge, designers!

    Posted 02-27-2018 17:56
    The letter a few days ago from Ann McCorvey asked if the tiny homes proposed for the chronically homeless in our city would be on lots donated by the City, who would own them?  This is an interesting discussion, and I hope some reader can help us with insights.
    The concept is four tinyhomes, back to back and side by side, so each "frontage" is the province of one resident, with a small patio and the front door and window.  Double sound deadening walls in a cruciform pattern separate each 250 sq ft unit. The total 1,000 sq ft building will not look much different than homes on nearby and adjacent lots.

    We plan to follow the concept recommended by Rev. Faith Fowler, in her book "Tiny Homes in a big city" based on their actual program underway in Detroit, on vacant city lots. Ownership of the land would be by the Land Trust which has been  established by the City to accept donations of land and to specify public benefit users when in-rem vacant property is auctioned.

    Residents would pay an amount they can manage, and after seven years of faithful payments (adjusting for relapses fo course), land maintaing the utility account, the individual or couple will be awarded with an instrument giving them a long term "deed" to their unit. This will enable the Land Trust to be a public landlord, hopefully allowing for enforcement of necessary regulations relating to exterior  upkeep, behavior that does not impinge on neighbors privacy and rights, etc. Housing Court between a private landlord and the tenant is not an appropriate way to adjudicate complex issues; we hope this instrument will avoid that.

    We welcome comments!  Modular builders are presently pricing this concept, which we believe will be a  more affordable way to provide long term permanent housing than the freestanding little box called a Tiny Home. It will also fit better in an established neighborhood, where neighborhood association support is essential.

    Your comments, or prior experience, wecome!

    Richard Rosen AIA
    Volunteer resource to the team of developers and social workers.

    Find my semi-retired part-time employment at Mark IV Enterprises, Rochester NY

    Off line, if you prefer: 585 415 3448, or