Infill House on Burnside with Hidden Parking

This week, construction crews prepared a new flag lot on E Burnside for a forthcoming single-family residence. Located at a recently created address of 7171 E Burnside Street, the two-story home will feature four bedrooms and a single-car garage. Unlike most infill-homes with the garage door dominating the front of the structure, designers of this house placed the attached garage behind the home.

Plans for the home show a 27-foot wide home extending back 42 feet. The front door sits between a half-bathroom and a ground-floor bedroom at the front of the house. The floor opens up to a living room and dining room from the entryway. The open floor-plan creates a long 33-foot by 16-foot room, ending in a kitchen at the rear of the house. A ductless fireplace with TV hookups above the mantel is at the center of the main floor. A door from the dining room leads to the single-car garage positioned at the northeast corner of the structure and setback nine feet from the northern edge of the home. This recessed placement allows a vehicle to make the 90 degrees turn from the ally into the parking space.

Up a flight of stairs, a ten-foot by ten-foot bedroom and a shared bathroom occupy the front of the second floor. A large family room and another ten-foot by ten-foot bedroom take up the center portion of this level. At the back of the house, a bedroom suite fills the remainder of the floor. Inside that room, a walk-in closet over half the size of the standard bedrooms sits to the right. The 16-foot by 12-foot main bedroom features a tray ceiling with a suspended fan. The ensuite has a shower, spa tub, toilet room, and dual vanity.

The project’s layout and design adhere to contemporary higher-end home construction standards. However, limitations created by the site’s location moved the project towards a classical arrangement. For many years, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has asked developers to place new driveways on side streets, reducing possible collisions on arterial roads like E Burnside. That directive influenced the need for a driveway entrance from NE 72nd Avenue. The Developers took additional space from the original property at 7 NE 72nd Avenue and created an alleyway leading to the rear of the new property.

Portland Maps image of 7171 E Burnside

Before WWII, most homes hid parking behind the house. It was not until the 1950s that most new homes placed the garage prominently at the front of a residence. Over the decades, the width of a house’s garage door signaled the homeowner’s prosperity. That valuation has recently decreased with changing perceptions status symbols.

Although vehicle storage is no longer a key sign of wealth, many new infill homes still offer attached garages, often requiring two-thirds the width of a home. This layout pushes living space to the back of the building, sometimes isolating occupants from the activities in the community. Although this building’s design may not have intently looked to the pre-war designs of American architecture, the benefit of placing the parking at the rear should create a more attractive building and perhaps encourage other builders to reconsider a vehicle’s place in the home.