The Baltimore District Council of the Urban Land Institute named Wheelhouse apartments among the six recipients of the 2020 WaveMaker Award. The distinction recognizes achievements in outstanding local real estate development projects.
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts who set the standards of excellence in development practice. ULI’s Baltimore District Council addresses land use, development and financing issues facing the region.
Wheelhouse introduced co-living housing to Baltimore in 2019. Designers approached the project with careful consideration of ways to minimize the negative impact a building has on its surroundings. The concept of co-living housing reduced the building footprint, materials and construction waste, while also creating more shared areas that could help cultivate a sense of community vital to many residents newly relocated to the area.
“Intending to create a unique project that fills in vacant areas within an established urban context, Wheelhouse sought to explore opportunities for co-living spaces in Baltimore, designed not only to provide housing but also to add opportunities for social engagement,” said project designer Gayatri Hegde.
The team selected a site in the diverse, mixed-use Federal Hill neighborhood where housing options were limited. Through close collaboration between the designers and the construction team, the project evolved to work within the constraints of an urban site limited by adjacent structures. The wide variety of the existing architectural styles offered a blank canvas on which to develop a design language for the new building.
The 50,000-square-foot facility comprises four stories of apartments with a ground floor containing retail, a residential lobby and back-of-house space. It houses 92 micro-bedroom units organized into 29 furnished dwelling units. Approximately 3,700 square feet of shared amenities, including a community kitchen, TV lounge and gaming area, coworking space and an exterior courtyard, serve as social hubs for the residents.
Wheelhouse made headlines for the novel amenity that inspired and defined the project: a bike for every tenant. The building’s name stems from the concept of biking as the primary means of transportation.
“With a goal to provide a sustainable lifestyle alternative, the Wheelhouse project also encourages a car-free lifestyle by providing residents with bikes and ample bike storage instead of car parking,” Hegde added.
Restaurants, retail shops, banks and a post office within a quarter-mile radius of the site diminish the need for a car. Its Walk Score® measures 99 out of 100, qualifying it as a “Walkers Paradise.” It earned a Transit Score® of 66 for its proximity to bus routes that connect to major transit hubs like Penn Station.