Learn about our work in affordable housing in Houston, TX.Read More
We are excited to announce that 18 families have now moved into their new homes at Tangelo Quarters! This our most recent multifamily development in partnership with the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville and the Housing Authority of Brownsville. All families living at Tangelo Quarters will enjoy a range of community amenities, such as a playground area, barbecue pavilions, and a community garden all connected by accessible routes strategically placed throughout the property.
The site is located in the Southmost area of Brownsville, a neighborhood that has historically had to deal with flooding issues due to inadequate infrastructure. With this context in mind, we designed native landscape and LID (low-impact development) infrastructure to help with drainage. As families get settled in and the vegetation starts to bloom, we expect Tangelo Quarters will set a precedent for approaching new healthy thriving communities in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Last month, the Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville hosted a Ribbon Cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening. During the event, every family received the opportunity to cut the ribbon of their new home. There was also live music and food to celebrate the families and all the collaborators that made this project possible. It was a great event -- and we were happy to be in attendance to help welcome new residents home to Tangelo Quarters!
Scroll through the photos below to check out the site and see some of its residents.
Read our earlier post from Tangelo Quarters construction.
Affordability is a challenge for large cities and small towns alike. Learn about how we’re helping the Woodlands Development Group with a plan for workforce housing in the mountain town of Davis, WV!Read More
We are excited to announce that in partnership with the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) we have designed a new multifamily development in the city of Santa Rosa, TX. The project consists of 50 detached single-family dwellings and also includes a community room, office, laundry room, playground area and barbecue pavilions as site amenities.
This large development, called Casitas Azucar, will significantly increase the share of affordable rental housing in Santa Rosa -- a rural community with just under 3,000 residents.
The design concept was driven by Santa Rosa’s rural environment and its historic, industrial buildings. Each unit type in the development follows a simple scheme which gave our design team the opportunity to focus on the creation and articulation of green space -- a key ingredient to healthy communities.
We increased green space per family through strategic placement of each unit and the use of modular arbor structures which were articulated to enhance the garden and patio space for each habitant. By treating every unit type uniquely to its location in the site, we were able to highlight green space and create a cohesive design that carries throughout the patio spaces. These strategies result in green spaces full of trees which are used as an extension of the family’s home, representing a continuation of each dwelling’s interior living space.
When families and individuals can spend time at home comfortably both indoors and outdoors, their quality of life stands to improve. Ultimately, our goal for Casitas Azucar is to increase the opportunity for community by addressing public and private green spaces -- to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy them how they wish. Stay tuned for more updates from this exciting development!
We are excited to report on our progress in bringing the RAPIDO model of temporary-to-permanent housing to families affected by Hurricane Harvey.
On July 26, the first RAPIDO Core unit in Houston opened its doors to visitors and stakeholders. Also in attendance was the family who will call the Core home. On September 20, the family moved into the first RAPIDO Core in the city of Houston, TX. The family will remain there throughout construction of the Expansion, transforming the temporary Core unit into a permanent three-bedroom home. Construction on the expansion began in October.
Our efforts have also included design for RAPIDO Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which can act as temporary housing during the home repair process, and then provide a source of extra income as a rental unit after reconstruction.
We are excited to announce that we are working to design and build 15 RAPIDO Core Units in Gulf Coast communities through a new grant from the Rebuild Texas Fund. Through this grant, we are also conducting research and development for mass production of RAPIDO Cores. This will serve 15 additional families affected by the storm, while also advancing progress toward the mass production of RAPIDO Cores.
[bc] believes in the public library's critical role as a hub for democracy. We are excited to support the DC Public Library in extending services into neighborhoods, expanding services to facilitate the work of makers, and fostering community spaces for individuals to utilize their hands and access the tools to shape the future of their cities.
In June, the DC Public Library NoMa fabrication lab ("fab lab") pop-up officially opened! The completion of this shipping container-turned-makerspace, which houses maker equipment and easily adjustable work stations, was celebrated with an opening event on June 17, attended by the project partners.
Attendees were free to roam around the courtyard and inside the container, and to enjoy the interior craftsmanship of custom-designed maker walls and furniture and the mural on all sides of the containers. Even the tops of the containers were painted, viewable from the surrounding tall buildings.
Following the tour and open house, Executive Director of the DC Public Library, Richard Reyes-Gavilan gave a closing thank you to all partners. Reyes-Gavilan spoke about the programming and new perspective public libraries can offer, noting, "Libraries are more than just books."
The Public Library has already started hosting free DIY classes and workshops. You can learn more about upcoming events at the Fab Lab Pop-Up at NOMA on the DC Public Library website here. More information about the Fab Lab and Pop-Up can be found here.
Thanks to all of our partners and volunteers who assisted with this project!
Tangelo Quarters, a housing development comprised of 18 single-family units, is currently under construction. Framing for the first five units has begun, and foundations for four others have been poured.
When complete, Tangelo Quarters will provide affordable, contextually-appropriate housing for 18 families in Brownsville, TX. The site will feature a range of community amenities, such as a community garden, for residents to enjoy together. The project meets density goals while preserving individual identities of homes and fitting in with the existing neighborhood.
We look forward to continuing work with our partners on this project, the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) and the Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville (HACB) and to seeing the project's completion in 2019.
On September 4, the City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department broke ground on 8 homes in the Acres Homes neighborhood that were designed by [bc] as part of the New Home Development Program. Drawing from the engagement done as a part of the City of Houston's Disaster Recovery Round 2, the designs were updated to improve resiliency and accessibility. [bc] staff were in attendance for the event, in addition to Mayor Sylvester Turner and representatives from HCDD.
Check out our photos from the event below!
The Macon Starks project is a housing development at the intersection of Macon and Starks Streets in the Bonton neighborhood. This housing project, which began a couple years ago, was met with a few delays along the way, but we are pleased to announce that the five senior housing units have been built and all are currently occupied. This project is a partnership between East Dallas Community Organization and [bc].
The units are a mix of duplex and single family dwellings centered around a communal garden space with raised planter beds. We look forward to advancing our design practice through different housing typologies serving the various populations of our cities.
Healthy, viable communities rely on strong interpersonal ties at the neighborhood level—and the preservation of affordable housing is crucial to this equation. With that in mind, we are excited to announce a partnership between buildingcommunityWORKSHOP and the City of Houston focused on creating affordable single family homes for sale using lots available from the Houston Land Bank.
Building off of our work with the Disaster Recovery Round 2 (DR2) program, [bc] is partnering with the City to design 18 new, single-family homes in the Acres Homes neighborhood. Through DR2, we had the opportunity to work with local designers in developing a Community Engagement process to set contextual and programmatic design preferences for the targeted neighborhoods and to produce informed schematic home designs, including floor plans and elevations. Taking into consideration lessons learned from our affordable housing projects and the recent changes to the floodplain ordinance in Houston, [bc] worked to adapt the designs to pier and beam foundation as well as to increase their spatial efficiencies. These home designs are based on the feedback received during the DR2 engagement process, individual design meetings with over 300 households, and our recent participation in the Acres Home neighborhood design charrette through the Complete Communities initiative.
A Unique Approach to Housing Affordability
By building on lots owned by the Houston Land Bank, this program establishes a long-term strategy for affordability in the Acres Homes neighborhood. The Houston Land Bank relies on the use of strategic relationships between developers, builders, community organizations, and other stakeholders to stimulate the revitalization of vacant, abandoned, and/or tax foreclosed properties.
Why New Home Development?
The City of Houston’s New Home Development Program concentrates on bringing infill homes built on vacant lots, adding options for healthy affordable housing that increase neighbor proximity and give more families the opportunity to become first-time homebuyers.
Building new homes increases a community’s physical assets, encouraging future development and investment. Furthermore, partnerships between home designers, builders, and community organizations engaged in community revitalization are strengthened when the affordable housing stock is developed.
Here’s the Master Plan for Acres Homes:
Stay tuned for more updates on the Acres Homes development. We look forward to sharing more with you here on our website and in our newsletter!
We have developed a series of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), exploring different outdoor design layouts that allow for adaptation and flexibility of placement in multiple lot configurations. All of our ADU designs utilize [bc]'s RAPIDO CORE, a disaster recovery housing modular unit, designed for durable and fast rehousing post disaster. Check out more information about this initiative and the details for each ADU design option at [bc]'s People's Design Library.
There are many reasons a property owner would want to invest in a RAPIDO ADU: disaster preparedness, temporary housing during repairs or reconstruction, increase affordable units in the city and provide extra income to homeowners.
These structures can be built quickly using standard materials and construction methods and are designed on raised platforms in order to avoid damage from flooding. A RAPIDO ADU can also be used as a safe house during a storm, especially if your home sustains serious damage. Because RAPIDO COREs can be built quickly, the ADU can act as temporary housing and allow homeowners whose houses are in need of repairs to remain on their property while their home is repaired or rebuilt. ADUs are also often rented out to individuals, and this extra structure can give the homeowner an extra source of income once they have returned to their repaired home.
Learn more about sAh Corpus Christi here!
[bc] and the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) have partnered to bring the sustainABLEhouse model of single-family affordable housing development to the city of Corpus Christi in order to provide housing choice to residents of the Hillcrest and Washington Coles neighborhoods who have been impacted by the Harbor Bridge reconstruction project and offered to participate in a voluntary relocation program managed by the Port Authority and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
Construction is now underway on a model home at 2517 Persimmon St. The model home will provide a tangible example for Corpus Christi residents of the quality of sustainABLEhouse homes, demonstrating the possibilities of custom-designed affordable housing. sustainABLEhouse works to combat the stigma around affordable housing, proving that affordability does not have to mean a lack of choice or quality, as it often does for many. The model home will show families how they can customize their design to achieve the kind of home that they want, or even model a new home on their previous one. sustainABLEhouse will provide residents with homes that meet their preferences and are durable and efficient.
We are excited to bring sustainABLEhouse to this new geography and to serve residents of Corpus Christi with customized affordable homes that suit their needs and their budgets.
We've worked to adapt RAPIDO's temporary-to-permanent housing model for this new geography and have designed a temporary-to-permanent unit for a family. RAPIDO’s housing model deploys a temporary CORE unit to family’s property weeks after a disaster, which can be expanded into a permanent home through a system of semi-custom designed additions. The purpose of the RAPIDO CORE is to bridge the gap between relief and recovery housing and provide a pathway to meet long-term family needs and preferences.
Our first RAPIDO prototype in Houston will provide the process and the means for a Houston family to become homeowners and allow us to pilot RAPIDO in Houston.
We're also working to design and build an Accessory Dwelling Unit prototype (ADU), which will pilot additional possibilities for post-disaster housing and pre-disaster planning. After a disaster, RAPIDO's ADU allows homeowners whose houses are in need of repairs to remain on their property while the repairs are made. After the homeowner moves back into their primary home, the ADU can be rented out as affordable housing, providing an extra income. The RAPIDO ADU unit can also play a role pre-disaster by providing a safe space on a homeowner's property.
Check out photos below!
[bc] has partnered with the DC Public Library Foundation to design and build a mobile, deployable fabrication lab (or "fab lab"), housed in a modified shipping container, to supplement access to library resources while the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library undergoes a three-year renovation, piloting new methods of reaching communities in place. The Container Lab will house a variety of tools that patrons can use, such as a CNC router, a laser cutter, and a 3D printer. These very tools will be utilized in building the structure!
[bc] produced design schematics for this design/build project, pictured above. We recently received a building permit and are set to begin construction on the Container Lab in April.
We will host a number of community build days to engage DC residents in the process, so stay tuned to learn more about how you can get involved!
[bc] partnered with the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville to host the first community engagement meeting with residents from Corpus Christi on September 18th. This process was prompted after the Port of Corpus Christi announced a voluntary relocation program for the neighborhoods of Hillcrest and Washington-Coles.The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the two organizations to Corpus Christi, which was looking for affordable housing options. We also wanted to learn what housing preferences the local residents wished to live in.
With this is mind, [bc] put together a few activities to learn more about the housing preferences. The residents were asked to fill out a survey that included questions framed around their desired neighborhood characteristics, the preferred housing attributes, and the nearby amenities they wished to live close to.
After a night of conversations and participating, the meeting finished with responses and answers that would be used to further the design process. The next step was to create a community workshop that focused more specifically on the individual housing and locational preferences for each resident.
On September 30th, [bc] again paired with Community Development Corporation of Brownsville to host an interactive community workshop session. This session was focused around the individual housing and locational preferences of each residents. This was done by separating the residents into two groups; one that wanted to move together as a community and the other that was interested in finding land that fit their family's needs.
The residents that wished to move together went through an activity to construct their ideal neighborhood. The residents used blocks and paper to compose an example section of their future neighborhood. The elements were based off of the original nearby elements chosen the meeting before. This activity allowed the residents to understand how the design of a neighborhood begins.
The residents that wished to move as individuals participated in a sticker activity that had them layout their existing home and compare it to what they would like to see in their new home. Deciding among room arrangements and architectural elements allowed each participate to have a say in how their house would get designed.
The next step in the design process is to work with our partners at CDCB to address the locational preferences and begin schematic design.
On November 18th, the residents of Corpus Christi came to a focus group geared toward progressing residents in the design process. The main objective of the meeting was to understand the locational preferences of Corpus Christi. [bc] and CDCB put together different areas of the city in order to best understand where the residents wanted to move.
The residents and [bc] employees had conversations about various housing locations within Corpus Christi. Afterwards, a general consensus is going to allow [bc] and CDCB to find land within the city to begin the construction design process with the focus group residents.
Currently, individual design meetings are being scheduled as equitable land becomes available.
Corpus is a new geography for us and we recognize that we understand the social, economic, and environmental issues facing a community before beginning work. The Hillcrest and Washington Coles community had already started a relocation process that started 2 years ago. Even though the program is voluntary the residents are facing a difficult decision between staying in an environmentally hazardous area, which will be affected by the relocation of a major infrastructure project or participating and having limited choice. During our discovery phase we focused our efforts in understanding the state of housing and the different actors in the housing community.
Last month, [bc] in partnership with CDCB started engaging Corpus Christi’s residents and stakeholders through  events: a community meeting that served as an informing and listening session; and a Housing Workshop designed to understand current housing conditions and desires from and individual and neighborhood perspective.
[bc] received a Safety Grant from Texas Mutual to support our purchase of ergonomic office equipment and safety equipment to keep our staff safe at the Tenth Street Neighborhood Resource Center construction site.
In the Tenth Street neighborhood—one of the last remaining and perhaps the most intact of Dallas's historic Freedmen's Towns—we’re working with residents to help build local capacity. We're renovating a historic home at 1208 E. 10th Street to serve as a Neighborhood Resource Center. When completed, it will become a repository for essential resources, a site for activities that promote technical learning among residents and strengthen community cohesion, and a residence for a [bc] architectural designer who will hold open office hours to assist the community with technical advice.
The Neighborhood Resource Center will support residents in their efforts to address the pressing issues they've identified in their community, such as vacancy, redevelopment pressures, and the disrepair of historic homes in the neighborhood.
In preparation for construction activities, [bc] and community members visited the property to conduct preliminary site clean-up. Activities included leaf-raking, trash pick-up, and bamboo and brush clearing. Check out the photos below!
Staff benefitted from the use of coveralls, safety glasses, gloves, ear protection, and hardhats purchased through Texas Mutual's generous grant. We're so grateful for this support!
[bc] is grateful to all those who have provided support for the Tenth Street Neighborhood Resource Center: The Real Estate Council Foundation, The Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, Inc., the Hillcrest Foundation, the Hoblitzelle Foundation, and Bank of America.
Learn more about our Making work!
Casitas Los Olmos, completed in October 2017, is a neighborhood of 80 single family rental units and six community amenity structures where families can thrive and have a sense of ownership of where they live. Porches create spaces to enjoy the outdoors, shaded windows help keep the hot sun out, and energy and water efficient construction help keep utility bills low. Each home has parking spaces immediately adjacent to the front door.
The 8.72 acre site incorporates low impact development (LID) strategies such as bioswales, partially permeable driveways, and native landscaping to filter and absorb as much stormwater on site as possible. Community amenity structures (including leasing offices, a learning center, a community space with a prep kitchen, a BBQ pavilion, mail kiosk, laundry and playground) define the larger public green areas. Steel roofs encompass the amenity structures and provide large shaded areas for comfortable gathering and play areas. The shade structures take a cue from Raymondville’s agricultural history.
From the project's inception, the design team challenged itself to create a place that engages residents and engenders a sense of community. The neighborhood was developed via a community engaged design process, resulting in a collection of sequential green spaces, varying in scale from pocket neighborhood areas to community greens. The integration of pedestrian paths allow residents to move throughout these spaces of gathering and play.
sustainABLEhouse utilizes design as a tool to address issues of equity within the Lower Rio Grande Valley by providing affordable single-family housing that is durable, efficient, contextually appropriate, and community & resident informed.
The sustainABLEhouse design process is broken down into simple steps so that a family can confidently make decisions about their home. The design of each home begins with a family filling out a Design Starts Here homework booklet. The simple questions in the homework helps a family think about the factors that will go into the design of their home. [bc] staff meet the family at their property and together measure the property to fully understand how to work with existing infrastructure, trees, and other important factors. This interactive early step helps to build trust between [bc] and the family, an important part of the sustainABLEhouse process.
Since beginning sustainABLEhouse in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in late 2012, [bc] has worked with Community Development Corporation of Brownsville to build homes with 63 families. Each of the families designed their home via a custom design process, or via a customizable catalog process. You can watch a short film documenting our process here!
sustainABLEhouse has fit into four different funding programs and sources in the LRGV. Three of these programs are administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) - Colonia Self Help Center, HOME Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance, HOME Persons With Disability, and the City of Brownsville’s HOME Homeowner Rehabilitation Assistance program.
sustainABLEhouse acts on the belief that choice empowers, and a home designed by the family that lives in it will work better for that family, and help to maintain and build viable neighborhoods.
AIA Dallas has announced its 2017 Design Award recipients, including the Cottages at Hickory Crossing.
The Cottages at Hickory Crossing were completed at the end of February of 2017, and is now home to 50 residents. Located on a three-acre site less than a half-mile from downtown, the Cottages at Hickory Crossing provides permanent supportive housing and support services for the fifty most chronic cases of homelessness in Dallas. The integration of thoughtful design and robust services become a comprehensive approach to overcoming the chronic challenges residents face. To best understand the needs of future residents and service providers, the pre-design process included a combination of research, focus group charrettes, and a comprehensive engagement of stakeholders in the decision-making process.
The design is comprised of fifty, 430-square-foot cottage residences. Individual homes encourage stronger personal identity while promoting a sense of community for residents. Homes are arranged in clusters of 6-8 units to create semi-public spaces or “micro-neighborhoods”. The 4,000-square-foot support-services building is a series of small buildings under one “porch” roof. While this building forms an urban edge at the street, it maintains a level of porosity for ease of access by residents. A series of courtyards and a common green provide flexible space for activities, from urban farming to outdoor recreation, encouraging interaction between neighbors.
The project seeks to serve as a model for sustainable urban living by maximizing open space, incorporating on-site rainwater collection and community garden space. LEED for Homes Platinum certification is expected to be completed in early 2018.
Beyond housing, the “wrap-around services” model and its architectural responses work to break the chronic challenges that residents face. 54 formerly homeless individuals living in permanent supporting housing facilities or shelters participated in a series of focus groups during the design process. Through collaboration with support services professionals and homeless individuals, the proposed design is an alternative typology that employs small and efficient individual homes for each resident. Transitional exterior spaces enable one to navigate through varying spatial experiences, from the more secluded porch to the shared courtyard, before reaching the common green.
Communities Foundation of Texas
City Square Housing
Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance
Henley Johnston & Associates
Design & Construction Solutions, LLC
Hocker Design Group