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Designing Better Affordable Housing in New York

A city commission has new guidelines for developers, designers, and community members.
The Frost Street Apartments in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, are one of seven projects featured in the PDC's new guide.
The Frost Street Apartments in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, are one of seven projects featured in the PDC's new guide.John Bartelstone and Curtis + Ginsberg Architects LLP

New York City’s Public Design Commission (PDC) reviews the design of “anything that is visible,” explained Justin Moore, the commission’s executive director. “Sewers, we don’t look at.”

On top of the city’s parks and public buildings, the commission is finally taking on *affordable housing. In May, the PDC released Designing New York: Quality Affordable Housing, a guide for developers, designers, and community members that lays out the commission’s ideas. There are eight design categories, ranging from site considerations to material selection, and seven examples of projects that the PDC considers well-designed and within budget. To create the guide, the PDC worked directly with architecture and design firms, builders, and affordable housing groups.