Grace Street House

Infill development is a responsible approach to the creation of housing units, but the approach can often present a multitude of hurdles.  Zoning ordinances typically pose the greatest challenges; successful infill developments require creative architectural solutions that test those boundaries.  Case in point: the Grace Street house.

Located within the R-1/5000 single-family zoning district of Salt Lake City, the Grace Street house sits on a slender site, directly adjacent to a commercially zoned district.  The first challenge, therefore, was creating an architectural solution that allows for an effective transition from the adjacent commercial zone to the subject property’s residential zone.   The R-1/5000 zoning ordinance established a maximum wall height of 20’ and a max roof ridge height of 28’, which in combination would normally dictate a maximum of two stories above grade.  The second challenge arose from the required setbacks that, once applied to the site plan, resulted in an unusually slender buildable area.  These two issues were beginning to paint a picture of a two-story home with insufficient square footage to meet project goals.

The design team explored a number of strategies and ultimately utilized two that, in combination, resolved the zoning challenges: 1) depress the home 2’ into the grade, and 2) reinterpret the relationship between the maximum top of wall and roof ridge height to create occupiable space above the max wall height datum, AKA the “modified gambrel roof” approach.  These strategies not only provided the effective façade transition desired between the adjacent commercial properties and the residential zone, but also afforded the project an entire floor’s worth of additional square footage.

Ordinances can, sometimes, offer unique opportunities.  Salt Lake City did just that with their adoption of an ADU ordinance as a way to relieve pressure on unaffordable and dwindling housing stock, as well as rising rents.  Recognizing this opportunity, Blalock and Partners incorporated an attached ADU that allows for rental income for the primary residence owner.