Custom Residential Architects Network

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The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN®) Knowledge Community develops knowledge and information to benefit architects who are engaged in, or who are interested in learning more about, custom residential practice. CRAN® presents information and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and expertise to promote the professional development of its members via discussion forums, national symposia and conventions, publications, and local activities.

2024 CRAN® Symposium

September 18-22

The Westin Seattle
1900 5th Avenue 
Seattle, Washington 98101

Registration will open in July 2024.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Download the prospectus for the CRAN forum at AIA24 and the CRAN Symposium sponsorships. 

  • 1.  Lessons Learned about Designing for Density?

    Posted 8 days ago

    Have you designed a project in a former single-family residential zone that now allows ADUs, DADUs, and/or multiple single-family residences on one lot? What design challenges did this density create in your project? What general advice can you share about designing for density? Would you do anything differently on your next project? I'm writing an article for Fine Homebuilding and would like to share the expertise and lessons learned by practitioners like you. Please email me at

    Linda Reeder FAIA
    New Haven CT

  • 2.  RE: Lessons Learned about Designing for Density?

    Posted 7 days ago
    I have. In general the urban suburban area of San Diego is pretty dense and there are very limited empty lots available and I gave a session on it at the AIA CRAN symposium in SLC this past fall.
    You can contact me or have me contact them. I have written or given advice in articles for RD, the Wall Street, Mansion Global and the Washington Post.

    Michele Grace Hottel, AIA
    Michele Grace Hottel, Architect
    619.461.1879 office
    619.251.0569 cell

  • 3.  RE: Lessons Learned about Designing for Density?

    Posted 6 days ago

    Dear Linda Reeder, FAIA,

    Thank you for your inquiry regarding high-density design and its associated challenges. I have indeed designed projects situated in previously single-family residential areas that have been rezoned to allow ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units), DADUs (Detached Accessory Dwelling Units), and multiple single-family residences on a single lot. Here are some insights and lessons learned from these projects:

    Design Challenges:

    1. Space Optimization: Balancing the need for privacy with the constraints of limited space is critical. Ensuring that each unit has adequate light, ventilation, and private outdoor space can be challenging but is essential for livability.

    2. Infrastructure and Services: Upgrading existing infrastructure to support increased density, such as water, sewage, and electricity, often requires significant planning and coordination with local authorities.

    3. Community Integration: Maintaining the character of the neighborhood while introducing higher density requires thoughtful design. This includes aligning the new structures' aesthetics with the existing architectural style and scale.

    4. Parking and Access: Providing sufficient parking and ensuring easy access for all units can be difficult in high-density developments. Innovative solutions such as shared driveways or underground parking may be necessary.

    General Advice:

    1. Early Stakeholder Engagement: Engage with local residents, planning authorities, and other stakeholders early in the design process to understand their concerns and requirements. This helps in creating a design that is both innovative and contextually appropriate.

    2. Flexible Design: Incorporate flexible design elements that allow for future adaptability. For example, designing units with removable partitions can help accommodate changing family sizes and needs.

    3. Sustainability: Focus on sustainable design practices, including energy-efficient building materials, green roofs, and rainwater harvesting systems, to enhance the environmental performance of high-density projects.

    4. Quality of Life: Prioritize the quality of life for residents by including amenities such as green spaces, communal areas, and recreational facilities. These elements can significantly improve the livability of high-density developments.

    Future Considerations:

    In future projects, I would place even greater emphasis on community spaces and green infrastructure. Creating more shared spaces that foster a sense of community and incorporating green elements such as vertical gardens and green roofs can greatly enhance the residents' experience and environmental impact.

    I hope these insights are helpful for your article in Fine Homebuilding. If you need any further details or specific case studies, please feel free to reach out to me at [Your Email Address]. I look forward to reading your article and contributing to the discussion on high-density design.

    Best regards,

    Chen Yan
    Professional Architect

    Vice President of Planning and Design

  • 4.  RE: Lessons Learned about Designing for Density?

    Posted 6 days ago
    Separating residential occupancies from one another can be challenging (and expensive) for example when putting a basement ADU and the ceiling must become 0ne-hour rated.  Also establising 2 exits can be difficult with excavations and side yard zoning restrictions.

    In Madison WI we must separate water services and electrical supply although shared sewer is allowed.

    Thomas Hirsch, FAIA