ARCHITECT/ARTIST ADAM KALKIN—who created buzz in 2005 with his shipping container–framed Push Button House—is adding a Salt Lake City condo complex to his portfolio of experiments in container construction. Local attorney and “accidental developer” Adam Price has enlisted Kalkin for the City Center Lofts (left), a seven-story structure with eight apartments and a ground-floor gallery.

  • Credit: City Center Lofts

Kalkin describes container-based design as a playful incongruity that “mutated into my architecture-proper practice from my art practice.” The lofts will include 30 containers, made habitable with thermal insulation and acoustic damping, plus “a little extra ancillary structure for rigidity and seismic performance, since they're stacked alternately.” While Kalkin usually obtains containers from Transamerica, sourcing will depend on whether fabrication occurs on site or in New Jersey—home to his container kit-house company, Quik Build, and regular collaborator Christie Engineering.

With concrete footings going in this summer and containers arriving around the end of the year, Price foresees completion next spring. Choosing containers over an all-steel frame, masonry, or wood, he says, was a financial decision with artistic and environmental benefits. The building will have roughly 50 percent recycled content by weight, passive solar design, radiant heating, low-VOC paints, and low-E glass. Rooftop photovoltaics, air-to-air heat exchange, and a graywater system are also possible, depending on budget calculations.