Shane Hess O'Neil collective works c. 2006 – 2014

EXPERIMENTAL REJUVENATION: Infill Rowhousing for Downtown St. Louis

(Mar. 2009; University of Oregon School of Architecture; Eugene, OR)

Capitalizing on the historic role of rowhousing as a dense, energy efficient, and versatile housing stock, the unit design focused on constructibility, affordability, and flexibility. The typical unit is parsed into front and back, allowing for the insertion of commercial/retail spaces and smaller rental units. The garage / work space is accessed on grade and off the alley and is designed for easy retrofit into an accessory dwelling unit.┬áThe impetus for this design strategy arises from the inadequacy of the former housing stock to handle changing demographics and economics, evident in the pervasiveness of “brick rustling” within downtown St. Louis.

The unit is organized to provide dynamic spaces that work together to support high-density family living. Passive solar heating and natural ventilation strategies allow for reduced energy consumption and increased occupant comfort. The dynamic street facade provides seasonal shading, vertical garden space, privacy, and security. Structural systems are articulated on the interior, providing a rich character of place and reducing material and labor costs. Exposed concrete party walls and shear walls provide acoustical separation within and between units, as well as thermal mass to aid passive solar heating.

Lush landscape zones temper the streetscape and create pleasant microclimates in the outdoor spaces that inhabit the edge of the sidewalk. A sunken garden complimenting the lower level acts as a rain garden, reducing stormwater runoff, and shades the sidewalk, reducing the urban heat island effect. Private garden space to the rear of the lot provides a highly sought-after urban amenity while versatile garage / work spaces off the alley create opportunities for neighborly interaction.