Urby, New York - United States, Concrete Architectural Associates
Construction year: 2016
Address: Navy Pier Court, Staten Island | NEW YORK | United States | Visit Website
Latitude/Longitude: 40.62889, -74.07424

Urby buildings have been designed to create natural opportunities for neighbours to meet and interact. Every building is entered through a public accessible, house-shaped entrance café that gives anyone walking through the door an instant feeling of coming home. Once inside, all areas are seamlessly connected. The numerous communal resident spaces include a kitchen, a gym, gardens, a pool and even an urban farm. The communal spaces are actively programmed. An in-residence chef cooks several days a week and offers cooking lessons in the communal kitchen. On properties that feature an urban farm, such as Urby Staten Island, residents can join the in-house farmer in growing their own vegetables for dinner. Available services can include anything from a personal trainer to a business coach. It all depends on the local needs and demographics of the residents.

Being a residential concept for the connected age, Urby has a digital side as well. But one that always serves the analogue purpose of interacting with other residents in real life. Via the Urby app, residents can access the program of the communal activities, enjoy keyless entry to their apartments, use the smart mail and package systems and a variety of local services. Other amenities include shared cars, communal bicycles and filtered water stations that serve as natural meeting points and promote the use of tap water over bottled water.

The architectural design of the properties reflects the organic nature of the Urby brand, focusing on flexibility, space and connection. Constantly in motion, tailored to fit the neighbourhood and responsive to changes in modern urban life, Urby is the first real estate concept that isn’t set in stone.

Urby is a holistic housing concept that offers residents much more than living quarters. That said, Concrete started out with focusing on the essence: the apartments. The design team created Small (studio), Medium (one-bedroom) and Large (two-bedroom) units. In order to test functionality, flow and setup, several mock-up apartments were built in a Jersey warehouse. In 2012, Concrete and Ironstate completed a 48-unit building in Jersey City and started renting the apartments out to gauge market response and collect user feedback. Three apartments have been kept on for testing purposes to this day, in order to constantly fine-tune layouts, finishes and fixtures. Meanwhile in 2011, Concrete started working on the Urby Staten Island project, applying the learnings from the test building to the first official Urby building.

The Urby Staten Island project consists of more than 900 rental apartments, 571 of which have been completed in phase 1. This fall, construction begins on the remaining 340 apartments. Next to Staten Island Urby will be present in other areas close to the city as well. End of the year the 69 story tower of Urby Jersey City with 763 apartments will open, while construction of Urby Harrison (450 apartments) is on it’s way and Urby Stamford will start construction in fall. Other sites in and around New York are currently under design investigation.

Staten Island is New York’s least populated and most overlooked borough. But things are slowly coming around. The number of ferry rides to Manhattan will soon go up and the city has started to develop the northeast shore into a public esplanade, featuring the world’s largest Ferris wheel as its main attraction. In terms of housing, the Urby Staten Island property is the borough’s largest residential development project in years. The project is located in the Stapleton area on the northeast shore of Staten Island, about a mile south of the ferry station that connects the neighbourhood to Manhattan.

The building is located right next to the Stapleton subway station on Front Street and overlooks the Upper New York Bay with views of downtown Manhattan in the distance. Changing the face of the neighbourhood Complying with local regulations, the buildings are four and five stories tall respectively and consist of retail and residential units on top of a semi-underground parking garage. The property is split in two by the Navy Pier Court. This public street connects the existing adjacent residential neighbourhood with the Urby site and the waterfront. Navy Pier Court forms the heart of the property, featuring carefully selected retail and restaurant spaces to reinvigorate this forgotten part of town. Outdoor seating facilities that include a partly covered living room turns this public area into an alluring hangout for residents and non-residents alike.

The buildings are set up as two large U-shaped structures, opening up unobstructed views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the impressive Verrazano Bridge from most of the apartments. Both buildings come with large landscaped areas that overlook the Upper Bay. The metal and glass warehouse-type of architecture pays homage to the area’s former naval purpose. The main building’s architectural louvers and windows are made of dark metal, alternated by silver windows to add a playful rhythm to the straightforward facades. The courtyard building features a silver coloured metal and is architecturally divided into smaller building sections to match with the scale of the courtyard.

Navy Pier Court is also where the main entrances to the building are situated. Two house-shaped wooden arches on both sides of the street mark the unmistakable entrances, creating an instant feeling of coming home. Both entrances lead to a public assembly first; the entrance café on one side and a Bodega on the other. The communal residents-only areas are located behind the café and Bodega. Connecting the dots The public areas form the social heart of all Urby properties. Designed for social interaction between residents, they create natural opportunities for neighbours to meet. The Zebra – a pedestrian crossing type of pattern painted on the street and paved in the courtyard flooring – draws a straight line over the full length of the property, connecting all public and communal spaces.

The Zebra essentially symbolises what Urby is all about: connecting communities and residents. Welcome home Instead of a traditional lobby with an ordinary doorman, Urby Staten Island has an entrance café with its very own barista who welcomes residents and visitors with a delicious cup of coffee. The café is run by Coffeed; a local franchise that serves coffee, pastries and small dishes as well as wine and locally brewed beer. The entrance café is the perfect place to start the day or unwind on the way home. A large marble bar is the centrepiece of the double-height space that stretches from the street in the front to the courtyard in the back. In the front, café seating with small tables and chairs, a communal table and window seating under wooden arches overlook the street. Newspapers, magazines and board games are available on the tables and shelves between the arches. In the back, the floor is elevated, accommodating a lounge area under wooden arches that connect with the courtyard. Two large open cabinets on both sides of the bar are filled with art, accessories and books. Above the bar, an open mezzanine floor leads from the elevators to one of the building’s residential areas. These residents-only areas overlook the café below and feature tables to work at, lounge seating, games and a foosball table. Stay in. Work out.

The Zebra continues outside across the communal landscaped courtyard, connecting the café with the outdoor facilities, the entrance of the courtyard building and ultimately the gym. The gym is located in a two-storey glass space that protrudes from the main building. A void over the full width of the facility and a large open staircase connects both floors. The gym has areas for cardio, weights and yoga. Gymnastic rings, climbing racks and vintage gym equipment give this modern day gym an old-school feel. What’s for dinner? Across the street lies the entrance to the second part of the building, the Bodega. The Bodega is a convenience store that’s clearly visible from the street within the house-shaped arches. Its large glazed-door fridges are filled with locally brewed beers, while open fridge cases integrated in the display tables display a wide variety of cheese. Fresh produce from Urby’s own farm and other local suppliers are presented in open crates. There’s also a machine that dispenses unpackaged nuts and dry fruits in order to avoid unnecessary packaging waste.

Behind the Bodega lies the residents-only area, starting with the communal kitchen. Like other
communal Urby spaces, the kitchen too is situated under wooden arches and faces an outdoor terrace. During phase two, the terrace will be transformed into a landscaped courtyard. The kitchen is decked out with professional cooking equipment that is organized around a large kitchen table made of wood from chopping blocks. The kitchen area features a communal table and lounge seating along the windows overlooking the courtyard. With features such as a classic black-white blocked floor, the kitchen is designed to feel like your grandmother’s kitchen. Somewhere you always feel at home and there’s always plenty of food. The resident chef is Brendan Costello. Brendan lives in the building and mans the kitchen six days a week. The kitchen is actively programmed with cooking classes, food events and musical performances.

All spaces are finished with durable materials, including wooden floors in living room and bedroom areas. The units come with a complete and operational lighting plan that has been specifically designed to match the overall look and feel of the apartments. Bespoke furniture pieces have been installed, such as extra deep windowsills with bookshelves underneath that double as a desk or seat by the window. Window blinds, built-in wardrobes and storage spaces in the bedrooms, as well as fully equipped tailor-made kitchens and bathrooms, including a washer/dryer are ready for immediate use. The apartments also come with pre-installed Wi-Fi, completing the ready-to-move-in package.

Different shapes and sizes
The S-units are studio apartments measuring approximately 380-420 SqFt. While in most studio apartments the only place for the bed is in the living room, the S-units come with a small alcove space in the entrance area that offers enough room for a double bed. As a result, there’s more space in the living room to actually live in, essentially turning the apartment into a 1-bedroom rather than a studio. The 530-560 SqFt M-units are set up with sliding doors between areas. When opened, all areas of the apartment are connected, allowing residents to circle the unit around the kitchen block in the middle of the apartment. By removing the vanity from the bathroom and placing it in the hallway that comes with built-in cabinetry with full-length mirrors, the hallway doubles as a dressing area.

The Urby brand and concept have been created by Ironstate development in collaboration with
Concrete. Concrete is responsible for all of Urby’s design – from the architecture of the building to all of its interiors, urban landscape and styling. Conceived with the ever-changing needs of the contemporary urban citizen in mind, Urby is a total and dynamic living experience that provides the perfect haven for those embracing everything the city has to offer.

Contributed by Concrete Architectural Associates

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