Multifamily housing rarely sees anything new but more common is that ideas are lost and then found again. The design at CityView in North Kansas City, Missouri, looked to renew or find many lost ideas and update them to a new market and a new tenant profile that was emerging in this near downtown location. The project was originally designed to appeal to 20 to 30 year olds but has managed to attract tenants over all age groups. The overall master plan strives to create a livable, dense community by creating a gradient of privacy. The size and location of buildings create a variety of scales and the opportunity for vistas through the project that makes it a real place. Spreading out parking in smaller lots, using buildings as screens and the positioning of on street parking parallel to the buildings prevents the typical headlights in your window that you find in most apartment projects.
One of the more successful and unique units offered is the “City Suite” modeled after a traditional rental room over a detached carriage house. The City Suite has attracted many tenants due to price point but has kept them through appreciation of the design and the convenience it offers. The idea of units over a garage is relatively new in Kansas City with few if any offering this unit type. The typical apartment complex has rental garages located throughout the development. These are located for convenience and easy access. At CityView we saw the garage footprint as an opportunity to add density and to create a distinctive unit type that was convenient and offered a rare advantage of only sharing one wall with an adjacent tenant or no walls and providing daylight from three sides of the unit.
The unit is a studio apartment with a loft-like gabled ceiling, exposed duct work, open kitchen, laundry closet, walk-in closet, and full bath and patio. Units are accessed by a small breezeway and stair shared by two units or a single enclosed stair in the three unit buildings. The unit is 700 sf with a 65-sf deck. Each unit has three garages below it. Special care was taken to design the unit floor, the garage ceiling, with sound and thermal insulation in mind. The garage doors and openers were selected for quiet operation. Sound was one of the major concerns of the owner for these units and while acoustically we took measures to reduce the sound, the units are not totally sound proof. The presence of other tenants using the garage below has not deterred the City Suite occupancy and typically there is a waiting list for these units.
These Carriage House buildings were also positioned between parking areas and small linked courtyards to create pedestrian paths and gardens. Windows and outdoor decks face the courtyards while also having two windows facing the parking areas to keep eyes on the parking, creating a safer environment. Breezeways serve as the entry to the courtyards from the parking, which is not on the street, and also for access to the units.
John E Freshnock – WSKF Architects Inc.