The Mayfair Lane

Probably the best thing I saw at CNU this year (out of many great things) happened after the Congress was over. Sunday night, I was treated to a fascinating night tour of Buffalo by Tim Tielman and friends, and the highlight was the last stop. Mayfair Lane is a type of place I’ve never seen before; a highly inventive place type invented in the 1920s by architect  E. B. Green that inexplicably did not spread. But maybe it still can; it certainly should.

Mayfair Lane from above, glowing softly late in the evening with Buffalo's sky-glow beyond

As you’ll remember, I’ve started a catalog of building types, having already posted the Edge Yard Dwellings, the Rear Lane Cottage, and the Carriage House. This will be the first of the special types I’ve found just in one place, but that merit use in other places. I’m really excited to be going to Boston later this summer to speak at the Traditional Building Conference, where I’ll be able to photograph the Beacon Hill Court, a type I’ve loved for years, but found only in Boston.

Here’s Mayfair Lane in a bird’s-eye view. It’s a simple idea, really. The vehicular lane is at ground level, and a pedestrian lane is built above. You pull in and park under your unit. Guests parking on the street walk up two stairways either side of the vehicular entry to the pedestrian lane. The whole thing sits on a lot that is 100’ wide and 300’ deep, not counting E. B. Green’s house at the end.

Each unit sits on a footprint that is roughly 900 square feet, so they are really compact. If I’m reading the bird’s-eye correctly, there are about 28 units on Mayfair Lane. Not counting E. B. Green’s house, the entire property on which Mayfair Lane sits is just under ⅔ of an acre, making the density just over 42 units per acre. And the assessed value of all of the units works out to a stunning $12.5 million per acre, I’m told… by far the most valuable real estate in the entire city of Buffalo.

Mayfair Lane in Buffalo glows softly in the evening light

The cool thing is that the Mayfair Lane place type could be used pretty much anywhere. When I showed the photos to Lizz Plater-Zyberk yesterday, she said Liz Moule and Stefanos Polyzoides have done similar things in California, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Isn’t it about time someone takes E. B. Green’s great idea on the road after all these years?

~Steve Mouzon

PS: Here are the other building types I’ve blogged about so far: the Edge Yard Dwellings (Cottage, House, Large House, and Mansion), the Rear Lane Cottage, the Carriage House, and the Sideyard. I’m also blogging about some really rare but inventive types as I find them… this is the first of those posts. Finally, I’m blogging about some types we’re developing as well, including the Dream Suite at Mahogany Bay Village.

Legacy Comments

Steve Mouzon · Board Member at Sky Institute for the Future
There were so many great things at the CNU this year (more on that later) but the best thing was something I saw after it was all over: Mayfair Lane. Have a look... what do you think?
Jun 11, 2014 2:02pm

Sharon Bowers · Cornell University
I always wanted to live in Mayfair Lane. It looked magical.
Jun 11, 2014 5:51pm

Bill Dennis · University of Cincinnati
Yes, I worked on a design for a block on the Greek inspired project in Anguilla. In that case there were perimeter townhouses in a squarish block that you drove down to a lane that accessed the garages, with a larger garden in the center. I saw Mayfair Lane in Buffalo and I am going to use it for a project for Frank Liu - I have been playing around with lifting up the courtyard in the middle so it is on the living room level. There is also one of these in West Hollywood.
Jun 12, 2014 9:54pm


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