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Designing Boston: Accessory Dwelling Units

June 25, 2018 | 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Price: Free and open to the public
Where: BSA Space, 290 Congress Street, Boston

Designing Boston: Accessory Dwelling Units

More than 65 people attended Designing Boston: Accessory Dwelling Units

The BSA Foundation brought back the popular Designing Boston series on Monday June 25, 2018, with a lively panel discussion about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The audience of more than 65 people listened as panelists discussed how the old idea of creating a second small unit, within or next to a larger dwelling unit, is new again and sweeping the nation. As the demand for housing in Greater Boston far outpaces its construction, creative solutions at all levels are necessary to narrow the gap. ADUs can be an extra source of income for homeowners, an affordable entry into a community for a renter, and a viable opportunity for senior homeowners to age in place with a caretaker or family member. While ADUs exist all over the country, most have not been considered legal until municipalities recently started to change zoning codes while seeking ways to get involved in supporting these living arrangements.

During the June 25 event, panelists discussed the need for innovative design ideas in the affordable housing market; ways to empower communities to call for zoning changes that will make ADUs legal; and ways to support homeowners in their advocacy efforts. Probed by the moderator, panelists also discussed the high cost of constructing these small units and potential challenges associated with obtaining building code approval. The audience enthusiastically raised their hands to talk about tiny house comparisons, ways to finance construction, and experiences related to of becoming a landlord shared by single-family homeowners. The conversation continued as attendees had a chance to speak with the panelists over wine and beer after the discussion.

Moderator
Anthony Flint, senior fellow, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Panelists
James Shen, Harvard Loeb fellow 2018, visiting lecturer at MIT School of Architecture, and co-founder of People’s Architecture Office
Marcy Ostberg, Director Housing Innovation Lab at the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics
Chris Herbert, Managing Director, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies
Lily Canan Reynolds, Community Engagement Manager, Department of Planning and Development, City of Newton

This Designing Boston Forum was co-hosted by the BSA’s Housing Committee, who has been actively involved with Boston’s Housing Innovation Lab in the ADU Pilot Program in the City. The Housing Committee participated in a design workshop that helped the City better understand how to craft the ADU zoning and change design requirements. Since the pilot began Housing Committee members have volunteered to help homeowners work through design challenges and the permitting process.

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This event took place June 25, 2018

Accessory Dwelling Units (aka ADUs, Additional Dwelling Units, granny flats, in-law-apartments) are small units within, attached to, or on the same property as a regular home. This is an old concept that is gaining ground throughout the country as a new way to increase affordable housing and allow homeowners to age in place. How does it work, though? What local zoning regulations need to change? How many new units are we talking about? What does it cost to build or renovate for an ADU? Join a discussion on how the ADU movement is taking shape in Boston and surrounding communities while exploring innovative models for truly affordable construction.

Moderator
Anthony Flint, senior fellow, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Panelists
James Shen, Harvard Loeb fellow 2018, visiting lecturer at MIT School of Architecture, and co-founder of People’s Architecture Office
Marcy Ostberg, Director Housing Innovation Lab at the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics
Chris Herbert, Managing Director, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies
Lily Canan Reynolds, Community Engagement Manager, Department of Planning and Development, City of Newton

This event will be co-hosted by the BSA Foundation and BSA Housing Committee. The Housing Committee has been collaborating with Boston’s Housing Innovation Lab (the iLab) throughout the City’s ADU pilot program. In June 2017 they co- hosted a design charrette to explore design possibilities for additional dwelling units within the existing footprint of a house. Working in four teams, a group of 30 architects and designers sketched out ideas for basement, attic, and in-unit build outs for single family and triple-decker homes. The two-hour visioning session created a better understanding of some of the challenges that would need to be addressed to implement this concept. The charrette helped guide the final zoning regulations that govern the pilot program in East Boston, Mattapan, and Jamaica Plain underway today. The Housing Committee continues to offer assistance through the design and permitting process for the first ADU applicants in Boston.

This event is part of the Designing Boston series, a forum to discuss current trends and concerns in architecture and urban planning that may shape Boston’s future.

For those who qualify, 2 LU/HSWs are available.

Image courtesy of People’s Architecture Office.