NYC Height Factor Zoning

Height Factor Zoning

(Last Updated On: October 18, 2018)

Height Factor Zoning in NYC is a set of zoning regulations that promotes tall skinny buildings with s lot of open space on their zoning lots. Height Factor buildings can be built in non contextual R6 through R9 zoning districts. Height Factor Zoning is based on the Tower In The Park concept of building design.

 

NYC Height Factor ZoningĀ 

Height Factor zoning has 2 key principles:

  • Floor Area Ratio
  • Open Space Ratio

 

Floor Area Ratio

Floor Area Ratio is a simple formula for determine how many square feet you can build on a property. We have another post on Floor Area Ratio if you want to read more about that concept. the Floor Area Ratio is a factor identified in the zoning code that when multiplied by the lot area determines the building square footage.

Floor Area Ration (FAR) X Lot Area = Buildable Floor Area

In Height Factor Zoning the Floor Area Ratio changes based on the number of stories. This actually leads to a lot of confusion for people because they may see that a certain zoning district has a maximum floor area of X but that floor area Ratio can only be achieved with a specific number of stories.

Open Space Ratio

Height Factor Buildings promote tall skinny buildings. In fact the taller the building the skinnier it gets. The open space ratio regulates how wide a building can be. The open space ratio formula is a percentage of the building floor area that result in the square footage of the open space.

Open Space Ratio OSR% of Building Floor Area (in Square feet) = Square Footage of required open space on the property.

Optional Zoning Regulations

Height Factor Zoning is an option. Any residential zoning district where you can apply height factor also has the option of Quality Housing Program Zoning Regulations. You get to choose what zoning you want in R6 through R9 as ling as you are not in a contextual zoning district. Contextual Zoning requires Quality Housing and does not allow Height Factor. So you get to pick you zoning option they both have their advantages and disadvantages.

One key difference between the two zoning options is that Height Factor results in tall skinny buildings and Quality Housing results in shorter wider buildings.

 

Height Factor Zoning Specifications

The following districts have the optional Height Factor Regulation.

  • R6
  • R7
  • R8
  • R9

 

R6 Height Factor Zoning

Number Of StoriesOpen Space RatioFloor Area Ratio
127.50.78
2281.28
328.51.62
4291.85
529.52.02
6302.14
730.52.23
8312.3
931.52.35
10322.38
1132.52.4
12332.42
1333.52.43
14342.43
1534.52.43
16352.42
1735.52.42
18362.4
1936.52.39
20372.38
2137.52.36
Over 21 Stories37.5 +.5 per story over 21HF FAR Formula

In R6 Zoning in order to achieve the maximum floor area ratio of 2.43 you must build a 13, 14, or 15 story building. This is going to be an uncommon situation because it would only be feasible on very large lots. In R6 you are more likely to do Quality Housing Program.

R6 Zoning Example:

Lets assume we have a site that is 100 feet by 100 feet. This gives us a lot area of 10,000 square feet.

Assuming we are planning a 13 story building we get an FAR of 2.43.

2.43 x 10,000 = 24,300 square feet for our building.

Our Open Space Ratio is 33.5 so we need 33.5% of 24,300 for our open area.

24,300 x .335 =8,140.5 square feet, that is our open space.

10,000 sq ft – 8,140.5 = The building can be 1,859.5 square feet per floor.

So in this scenario we get a 13 story building with 1,859.5 square feet per floor on a 10,000 square foot lot as long as it does not go over 24,300 square feet. Like I said tall and skinny.

 

R7 Height Factor Zoning

In R7 Zoning in order to achieve the maximum floor area ratio of 3.44 you must build a 14 story building.

Number Of StoriesOpen Space RatioFloor area Ratio
115.50.87
2161.52
316.52.01
4172.38
517.52.67
6182.88
718.53.05
8193.17
919.53.27
10203.33
1120.53.38
12213.41
1321.53.42
14223.44
1522.53.42
16233.41
1723.53.4
18243.38
1924.53.36
20253.33
2125.53.3
Over 21 Stories25.5 + .5 per story over 21HF FAR Formula

R7 Zoning Example:

Lets assume we have a site that is 100 feet by 100 feet. This gives us a lot area of 10,000 square feet.

Assuming we are planning a 14 story building we get an FAR of 3.44.

3.44 x 10,000 = 34,400 square feet for our building.

Our Open Space Ratio is 22 so we need 22% of 34,400 for our open area.

34,400 x .22 =7,568 square feet, that is our open space.

10,000 sq ft – 7,568 sq ft = The building can be 2,432 square feet per floor.

So in this scenario we get a 14 story building with 2,432 square feet per floor on a 10,000 square foot lot as long as the building does not exceed 34,400 square feet.

 

R8 Height Factor Zoning

In R8 Zoning in order to achieve the maximum floor area ratio of 6.02 you must build a 17, 18, 19, or 20 story building.

Number Of StoriesOpen Space ratioFloor Area Ratio
15.9.94
26.21.78.
36.52.51
46.83.14
57.13.69
67.44.15
77.74.55
884.88
98.35.15
108.65.38
118.95.56
129.25.71
139.55.81
149.85.92
1510.15.95
1610.45.99
1710.76.02
18116.02
1911.36.02
2011.66.02
2111.95.99
Over 21 Stories11.9 + .3 per story over 21HF FAR Formula

R8 Zoning Example:

Lets assume we have a site that is 100 feet by 100 feet. This gives us a lot area of 10,000 square feet.

Assuming we are planning a 17 story building we get an FAR of 6.02

6.02 x 10,000 = 60,200 square feet for our building.

Our Open Space Ratio is 10.7 so we need 10.7% of 60,200 for our open area.

60,200 x .107 =6,441.4 square feet, that is our open space.

10,000 sq ft – 6,441.4 sq ft = The building can be 3,558.6 square feet per floor.

So in this scenario we get a 17 story building with up to 3,558.6 square feet per floor on a 10,000 square foot lot as long as the total building does not go over 60,200 square feet.

 

R9 Height Factor Zoning

In R9 Zoning in order to achieve the maximum floor area ratio of 7.52 you must build a 14, 15, 16, or 17 story building.

Number Of StoriesOpen Space RatioFloor area Ratio
11.99
21.41.95
31.82.85
42.23.68
52.64.42
63.05.08
73.45.65
83.86.13
94.26.54
104.66.85
1157.09
125.47.3
135.87.41
146.27.52
156.67.52
167.07.52
177.47.52
187.87.46
198.27.41
208.67.35
2197.25
Over 21 Stories9 + .4 per story over 21HF FAR Formula

R9 Zoning Example:

Lets assume we have a site that is 100 feet by 100 feet. This gives us a lot area of 10,000 square feet.

Assuming we are planning a 14 story building we get an FAR of 7.52

7.52 x 10,000 = 75,200 square feet for our building.

Our Open Space Ratio is 6.2 so we need 6.2% of 75,200 for our open area.

75,200 x .062 = 4,662.4 square feet, that is our open space.

10,000 sq ft – 4,662.4 sq ft = The building can be 5,337.6 square feet per floor.

So in this scenario we get a 14 story building with up to 5,337.6 square feet per floor on a 10,000 square foot lot as long as the building does not exceed 75,200 square feet.

 

Height Factor Zoning in NYC

Height Factor comes from the 1961 Zoning Resolution of New York City. In fact we are still using the 1961 Zoning Resolution except that they regularly update it and have many amendments since 1961.

 

Tower In The ParkĀ 

Tower in the Park is a modernist idea for building design started by Architect Le Corbusier. The idea is that a city should have lots of open space with green areas and this is achieved with tall skinny buildings. Tower in the Park can be observed in many Housing Projects around NYC where they have several tall buildings in open green areas. This was a popular mid 20th Century idea.

 


Thank You for reading our post on Height Factor Zoning.

If you have questions or comments please feel free to leave them below. If you would like to speak with an architect please feel free to contact us directly. We are happy to hear about your upcoming projects.

 

New York Architects, Jorge Fontan

Author Jorge Fontan AIA

This post was written by Jorge Fontan, a Registered Architect and owner of Fontan Architecture.

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