Reno Development Aims for ‘Baked-In’ Sustainability

The Midtown Garden Homes infill project brings light density and sustainable materials to a neighborhood predominantly populated with single-family homes.

August 4, 2022, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Aerial view of downtown Reno, Nevada

Elizabeth A.Cummings / Reno, Nevada

A new development in Reno hopes to provide a model for sustainable, community-oriented housing, according to an article by Ben Schulman in Architect Magazine. 

After moving to Reno, architect Jack Hawkins “set out to develop a project that could establish a principle of economic sustainability from a land-use perspective, as well as material sustainability, embedded within the architecture of the project itself.”

His first project, where Hawkins lives, was a group of four infill residences that “established a precedent for density in an area of predominantly single-family housing.” Now, Hawkins is working on a new, larger development called Midtown Garden Homes. “Sustainability is baked into the program, including passive solar, minimal duct work, landscaping that acts as a block-level mitigation technique to minimize climate effects, and, potentially, low-cost, vernacular cooling systems—à la “swamp coolers”—that are common in dry climates like Reno’s.”

The project also uses an innovative funding model to make it pencil out. “Noting the front-loaded soft costs associated with rezoning concerns, among other development hurdles, Hawkins was strategic in advising the developers to separate the individual parcels that compose the entirety of the project. In the event of liquidity needs, one part of the project could potentially be sold while the other components are maintained, opening the door for more profit potential down the line.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2022 in Architect Magazine

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Aerial view of downtown San Antonio with Tower Life Building in foreground

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Colorado River

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Two cyclists on a paved bike trail through short grass with Dallas buildings in background

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Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

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Harvard University Graduate School of Design

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