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New infill guidelines seek to address housing loopholes around Ithaca

Anyone who has ever seen the Longest Night Solstice Towers, the property at 504 West Seneca Street, has certainly noticed their peculiar design. This isn’t to say the buildings are ugly, but rather the design is the result of technicalities, infill design and toying with the city’s zoning regulation.

It is the design of local architect John Barradas, who acquired the lot and saw the potential for unique housing. The idea started in his backyard studio at his residence, which is located elsewhere on Seneca Street and is similarly designed to the Longest Night Solstice Towers. The design of the towers, which are three stories high and connected by a wooden bridge, makes them stand out from most other buildings in the area. Barradas managed to use some technicalities in designing the buildings so they would fall within the range of what is considered a single-structure duplex, making his unique tower design legal though unconventional.

Since the two towers are built on one foundation, have a shared deck and the connecting bridge is unrestricted by a door or lock, the two towers are technically one singular structure. Barradas’ design may clash with the neighborhood’s aesthetic but he managed to find an interesting way to remain within the zoning, something that is emblematic of the control the city holds over development and the exceptions that may always exist.

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