How do you build a multi-storey apartment building in suburban US without disturbing the local context?

On a tree-lined in a small US city, we designed a building that would fit harmoniously into its local context. Using modular construction, we proposed a design that would fit into this setting without overwhelming its neighbours, creating a building that belongs.

The Eighth Street Apartments are located to the east of Traverse City’s town centre, on a typical rural suburban street lined with tall trees on both sides. Driving down Eighth Street, the trees cast long shadows across the road, creating a beautiful boulevard typical of American Midwest towns.

On this stretch of Eighth Street, we proposed a 4 storey building that would be home to 48 units of 2-bedroom apartments. Designed to be constructed in two phases, the building could potentially overwhelm the street’s character with its massing.

Our design proposes to set-back the two phases to create a break in the massing. Connected by the core but separated visually, the design appears as two distinct massing in order to minimize the visual massing when viewed from the street.

Taking advantage of the trees on the existing site, the building becomes hidden from the street. Carefully designed to align with the tree tops when viewed from the street, the building mass becomes integrated into the site.

The carpark for the apartments are located to the rear of the site in order to place the building closer to the street so as to prevent the building from being isolated from the surrounding.

Modular construction is proposed and adopted in the design. Units are made of a living and sleeping module, and designed to fit two apartments and the common corridor in the middle within one module.

Traverse City, US