Q&A with architect Charlie Wenzlau
What are the expectations and challenges of building affordable housing?
Our new housing communities must be a part of the fabric of the island both in character and in creating community. One of the bigger challenges is finding affordable land close to shopping and transit.
How do you keep costs down while still creating a beautiful and durable building?
Designing a livable home is about good light, healthy materials, and thoughtful site planning. These don’t need to add much cost to a project if they are considered early on and held as essentials. In general, keeping costs down means doing things simply and keeping a focus on what is important for the residents.
HRB needed to fit as many units as possible into the Ericksen Community. How did you create functional, comfortable, and safe living spaces under these pressures?
The Ericksen Community will sit on a very small site, so we had to be very efficient about how to provide parking and open spaces while meeting the needs for the unit layouts. We placed our emphasis on little things like the entry lobby and the laundry room as being not only functional but inviting.
How did the site and neighborhood inform the design?
The site plan is quite simple: locate the building facing the street and place the parking behind. From there we have been very deliberate about how to make the best use of small outdoor areas. The simple modern design should blend comfortably with the surrounding neighborhood which includes both residential and commercial uses.