What’s mine is yours?

May 16, 2019
7:00 p.m.

The Housing System logo

This event is part of a spring 2019 series called The Housing System.

Living with roommates is a workaday arrangement in New York City, arrived at for reasons of cost, convenience, or housing availability. About a quarter of the city’s housing is shared by roommates, and more than one in 12 units are officially designated as “crowded.” We’re often stuck making a few standard forms fit our diverse needs—and then figuring out how to divvy up space in the fridge.

Collective housing has a long history globally, from longhouses to baugruppen to cooperatives, but today’s arrangements are often more ad hoc than intentional. That’s changing, though. There’s a lot of hype for coliving, in which companies lease out individual rooms in a building; city government is reviewing how shared arrangements could fit into its overall housing strategy; and groups around the city are exploring communal possibilities, from cohousing to land trusts. Yet how are the benefits of shared living, including community and flexibility, balanced with the potential drawbacks, such as lack of privacy and the need for lifestyle compromises? This event will examine questions of living together, including affordability, equity, design, management strategies, and different models of communality.

Moderated by Emily Schmidt. 


Brian Baldor is an architect who has worked in affordable housing for more than ten years. He is the Executive Director of New Construction Design Review at New York City’s affordable housing agency, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). He has been deeply involved in the establishment of the current design standards for affordable housing in New York City, and has been the design representative for numerous policy initiatives, including basement legalization, modular construction initiatives, and the Big Ideas for Small Lots Design competition (in conjunction with AIA NY). He has been involved in the ShareNYC Initiative as it was developed at HPD, and he is part of the review team that will evaluate the proposals.

Jenn Chang is currently the Director of Architecture at Common Living, where her practice focuses on cohousing typologies in the modern urban context as well as the housing crisis at large. She also teaches Fundamentals of Urban Digital Design in the Urban Planning Program at Columbia University GSAPP. Prior to Common, she was a Senior Associate at SHoP Architects, where she led the design of several high-profile projects in New York. In the past, she has also worked at Kengo Kuma in Tokyo and Brooklyn Digital Foundry. With degrees in both Architecture and Economics, her academic pursuits combine to reinforce her fundamental interest in drawing out the links between data, space, and experience.

Jonathan Kirschenfeld is the Principal of Jonathan Kirschenfeld Architect PC, which has strong credentials in the areas of urban housing, childcare centers, and recreation and performance facilities. He was recognized as a 2017 Social Design Circle Honoree by the Curry Stone Prize and was the recipient of the inaugural 2014 HH Richardson Award for Public Architecture given by New York State Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The firm’s supportive housing work has been recognized by the New York City Chapter of the American Institute of Architects with the 2013 Andrew J. Thomas “Pioneer in Housing” Award. He is also the founder of the Institute for Public Architecture (IPA), a not-for-profit organization on the forefront of social impact design, and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University GSAPP.

Emily Schmidt is the manager of housing initiatives at The Architectural League of New York, where she organizes events and projects on housing design and policy. She is also a contributing editor for the League’s online publication, Urban Omnibus. Before joining the League in 2014, she worked as a planning associate at bcWORKSHOP, a nonprofit community design center in Dallas.


Architectural League programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo. This program is also supported by the J. Clawson Mills Fund of The Architectural League.



February 13, 2017

Affordability Toolbox

An overview of the past century of housing regulation and subsidy in New York City, detailing the tools used to create and maintain affordable housing: codes, regulations, non-profit ownership, and subsidies.