Student research began with an investigation of housing types in Webster and Wagner. Both cities have a population under 2000, and were established in the early 1900s as agricultural towns along a railroad. Their Main Streets, once commercial and public centers, are still active but in need of continual maintenance and reinvention. Retail and public space have generally moved to the state highways (the “four-lanes”) are the new commercial centers, with industry and institutional locations built at the scale of the car.
Housing on Main Street is rare. Few, if any, of the two story buildings have occupied or residential upper floors. Rumblings by some of the younger members of the community, often called “returners,” have started to pursue the expensive renovations necessary for upstairs live/work or rental units. Vacant lots exist as potential new construction sites. Typically, however, these locations are seen as economically limited due to parking, pedestrian traffic, and construction expense. The decision to build new within only a mile or two of Main Street offers the ease of an unrestricted site and few zoning or signage restrictions. Incentives for preservation, smart growth, or reinvestment in downtowns are absent.
Other student design typologies included duplexes, townhouses, rowhouses, and other multi-family buildings. In addition, senior living, assisted living, flats, and transitional housing were identified. Examples of these exist in Webster and Wagner, but each would benefit by adding many more. They are in high demand and new housing of any type are almost immediately occupied.
Documentation transects: Webster and Wagner
student housing typology proposals