Container Apartments in Arizona

The trend of taking shipping containers and recycling them into architectural elements for homes hit Phoenix in the fall of 2015, when Containers on Grand opened. It already had a waiting list upon completion.

Brian Stark, founder of Local Studio and one of the architects behind Containers on Grand, began working on a second installment of shipping container apartments, called The Oscar, in 2016.

IDA on McKinley is built from 66 recycled shipping containers according to design-build firm Local Studio. The six-story building features 18 one- and two-bedroom apartments, with ground-floor space for commercial tenants. The project utilizing 615,000 pounds of re-purposed Corten steel, known for its high strength and corrosion resistance.

As an “urban infill” project, IDA on McKinley replaced a small parking lot on the corner of McKinley and Third streets in Phoenix.

“What I’m trying to accomplish is changing hearts and minds one block at a time, particularly in the area of sustainability,” said Kathleen Santin, partner at Local Studio.

In addition to recycled building materials, IDA utilizes rainwater harvesting, solar panels, passive solar design elements, low-water xeriscape on the exterior, “bioswales” for rainwater irrigation, and a number of other features designed with sustainability in mind.

A simple design element with a big impact, bioswales are small trenches filled with plants dug between the sidewalk and street, naturally collecting rainwater for desert irrigation, while simultaneously filtering polluted runoff.

Over the sidewalk, a double-sided solar canopy shades passersby, while also providing electricity for the ground-floor commercial space. There’s also a double-sided, solar-shaded roof deck, providing views of the downtown skyline, while also producing 33-40 percent of the apartments’ power needs, according to Santin.

IDA meets nearly all of the City of Phoenix’s Climate Action Plan goals for sustainable building. To promote a lower carbon footprint, there is no parking available on property. Instead, the building boasts exterior showers for those who want to bike or walk to work, and an electric bike charging station.

Porous walkways between units help harvest rainwater, which collects in a 3,000 gallon tank, and for drinking, filtered water stations on each floor encourage bottle re-usage.

IDA marks the fifth shipping container project in metro Phoenix for Local Studio.

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