As real estate costs and rents escalate and urban density increases, the micro-unit is an increasingly appealing solution. Renters benefit from access to public transit, proximity to employment, and 20% to 30% lower rental and utility costs.

The 36’x80’, 7-floor-tall building occupies a constrained downtown site left by the burning of a much-loved historic house. The original, salvaged front doors memorialize the main entry.

Above ground floor retail, 36 micro-units cater to young professionals and graduate students. One-bedroom units (474-sf) bookend each level’s single-loaded corridor. Between them, studio units (284-sf) maximize usable space with a compact kitchen and bathroom, built-in storage, and transformable furniture. Floor-to-ceiling windows lend grandness to petite quarters.

A photovoltaic array powers resident amenities, which include a rooftop gathering space with gardening beds, a first-floor lobby with coffee bar, and basement storage units.

The black entry surround and window shrouds punctuate an otherwise gradient pattern of mill-finish and pre-weathered zinc panels. The mosaic shifts over the course of the day, as incident sunlight coaxes varying degrees of specularity in the material. The panels’ natural sheen will weather over time, evolving alongside the ever-changing Iowa City downtown.

Project Type



Iowa City, Iowa


27,219 SF