Ross's paper to the Smart Growth Network
"National Conversation on the Future of Our Communities"
Building Blocks for Resilient Communities
AARP Bulletin
Sharing Common Ground

Click here for more information about pocket neighborhoods

USA Today
March 30, 2011
Cozy Pocket Neighborhoods Have Sprawl on the Move
New Urban Network
April 2011
Good Developments Come in Small Packages

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you designing any Pocket Neighborhoods in my area?

We (Ross Chapin Architects) have projects in various stages in different regions of the country. For more information, please click here: current projects.

Pocket Neighborhoods are nice, but I don’t see them fitting into higher density urban settings.

As Ross describes in more detail in his blog post, “Not Just Cute Cottages”, a cluster of cottages around a garden is only one form of what Pocket Neighborhoods are. Fundamentally, Pocket Neighborhoods are about nearby neighbors sharing and caring for common ground. In an urban area, this may take the form of a collectively owned apartment building with a commons room and roof-top terrace. Or a reclaimed public alley. Or neighbors creating a community garden created by nearby neighbors on a vacant lot.

We have a site that would be perfect for a pocket neighborhood. Can you build one here?

While we have been development partners on 6 pocket neighborhood communities in the Pacific Northwest, we are primarily architects, not developers. Our suggestion is to contact a local developer or builder in your area who may be amenable to these ideas, show them this website and the book, and discuss the process with them. We will be happy to consider creating a pocket neighborhood site plan and designs for appropriate homes. Keep in mind that local jurisdictions may or may not have the necessary zoning ordinances to allow pocket neighborhoods.

I am a developer. Can you help me with a plan?

Yes. Look at the Neighborhood Development Services page on the RCA site for a description of the process, then tell us what you have in mind.

Can I visit the Pocket Neighborhoods I see in the book and this website?

Out of respect for the privacy of residents, we do not give out addresses for the communities.

How much does a house in a pocket neighborhood cost?

The answer to this question is completely particular to the region, location, quality of construction and size of the house. Prices vary across the country and even from one part of a city to the next. Because of this, any prices we suggest would be out of context.

Here are a few other considerations that factor into the cost question. Homes in Pocket Neighborhoods tend to be smaller by choice and because commons elements cover some of the need. A smaller house can cost less than a larger house just because its smaller. However, smaller homes are generally more expensive per square-foot, because higher priced elements like the kitchen and bathrooms, and fixed-costs such as hookup fees and electrical service, are not spread across as much lower-cost areas like bedrooms and hallways. Common gardens and buildings do add to the overall cost, though the total cost of those elements is divided by the number of homes.

Can you design a house for us?

Possibly. One of the cornerstones of RCA is designing sensibly-sized, one-of-a-kind homes nestled into their settings. It’s what we love to do. While we sometimes work on projects outside our region, most of the custom homes we design are in the Pacific Northwest where we can work closely with local builders in crafting the home. Read about our Home Design Services, then tell us your needs and project ideas, and let’s see if we’re a match.

Can we buy plans for any of the houses we see in the Pocket Neighborhood book?

Design plans for some of the homes in the book and on this site are available through RCA's GoodFit Collection

Can Ross give a talk at our conference?

Ross is occasionally available for public speaking and teaching engagements. He has given keynote addresses and workshops at conferences, juried national design award competitions, and served as a guest critic for university design studios. Click here to see some Topic Titles, or contact us with your request.