Waldo Duplex

Can we build affordably, satisfy a strict economic model, and support the dignity of the residents?

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Waldo is a diverse and dynamic neighborhood in southern Kansas City. Once the southern extent of the city’s former streetcar line, Waldo doesn’t play by the rules of conventional urbanism or City Beautiful urban planning but has flourished nonetheless. The major commercial and industrial corridor along Wornall Road, Waldo’s major thoroughfare, is immediately flanked by established neighborhoods of single-family bungalows and shotgun homes. In this “anything goes” neighborhood exist opportunities for typological experimentation and architectural innovation. The Waldo Duplex was designed and built to be a solution to a significant, if unexpected problem in Metropolitan Kansas City. Rent is rising at a rate higher than the national average, negatively impacting lower-income neighborhoods like Waldo. Most intriguingly, the Waldo Duplex was designed and built by a group of 5th year architecture students from a nearby university as part of their final year studio project. Targeting only households making less than 80% of area median income and implementing rent controls, this project will be home for two moderately low-income families that want to live and work in Waldo, but otherwise could not afford to. This project suggests that a maligned architectural typology — the duplex — can be built affordably without sacrificing architectural integrity. With an “all in” budget of $290,000 (not including the cost of land), the project sought to provide affordable rents while satisfying the clients’ economic model. The building challenges both the historic and the modern typology of the duplex. This building type was conceived to meet housing needs in lower-income municipalities and neighborhoods. While developers today use the duplex model in a way that creates suburban neighborhoods with no identity whatsoever, the Waldo Duplex looks to the inherent benefits of duplex construction but works to redefine the building typology. Traditional duplexes isolate their tenants on either side of a partition wall. The Waldo Duplex unites them through the tradition of the front porch. In a larger sense, this project seeks to understand why affordable housing solutions often fall short. Typical affordable housing design only advances perceptions of inequality rather than fights them. This project suggests that affordability and thoughtful architecture are not mutually exclusive. It is the beginning of an important conversation. Can we build affordably, satisfy a strict economic model, and support the dignity of the residents? The accommodation of diverse incomes by the Waldo Duplex continues the dichotomy that defines this neighborhood today. Projects like this will ensure that Waldo maintains its unique character long into the future.
  • 2017
  • Architect, Fabricator, Educator
  • Kansas City, MO
  • 1,500 SF


  • Botwin Family Partners, LP

Eldo Team

  • Principal: David Dowell, AIA
  • Project Manager: Ted Arendes, RA

KSU Design+Make Studio

  • Jason Barker
  • Wade Byers
  • Lannie Cowden
  • Doan Pham
  • Jacob Pivonka
  • Kaitlyn Portner
  • Zachary Pritchard
  • Taylor Rice
  • Andrew Schopen
  • Brock Traffas
  • Michael Twitchel
  • Emily Whitty


  • Contractor: Fosters, Inc
  • Design Build Consultant: Studio Build
  • Structural Engineer: Apex Engineers
  • Landscaping: Vinland Valley Nursery
  • Lighting Consultant: Derek Porter Studio


  • 2018 The Chicago Athenaeum, American Architecture Award - Mixed Use Buildings
  • 2018 American Galvanizer Association - Excellence in Hot Dip Galvanizing Award
  • 2017 AIA Kansas City Design Excellence - Architecture Small, Honor Award
  • 2017 Architects Newspaper Best of Design Awards - Student Work Honorable Mention
  • 2017 AIA Central States Region Design Awards - Honor Award
  • 2017 Interior Design Best of Year Award - Budget, Honoree
  • 2017 ARCHITECT Magazine, Residential Architect Design Award - Affordable Housing Citation Award
  • 2017-2018 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture - Design-Build Award


Photography by

  • Mike Sinclair


ReStart Housing
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