Celebrating Local Heroes

Learn more about our MLK Day of Service projects here.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged us to build a more perfect union and taught us that everyone has a role to play in that effort. For our 2015 service project in his honor, [bc] set out to recognize some of those who serve their communities by releasing the Second Edition of buildingcommunityHEROES trading cards.  By creating a fun, tactile, and pocketable way to learn about those working to improve our communities, we hope to encourage those of all ages to honor their heroes and engage in the causes that speak to them.

We put out the call for local hero nominations at the beginning of January and received just over 100 nominations for those working tirelessly in Dallas, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.  Nominations included selfless family members, state senators, founders of schools, advocacy group members and fearless neighborhood leaders.  It was not easy, but from here we researched and curated the nominations to get a final group of heroes with a diverse range of causes, ages, backgrounds and levels of impact.  After the final selections were made, the cards were printed, sorted, packaged and ready for a January 19 distribution.

We distributed the cards on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and throughout the week in Dallas, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.  We hope that the stories of these 24 heroes will inspire people to be more active in their communities.  We also hope that the cards will encourage people to think about and honor their local heroes.  If you were not able to pick up a pack, check out all 24 heroes plus 2014's at www.buildingcommunityheroes.org.


Who is your hero?  Share them on social media at #bcHEROES2015 and nominate them for the third edition of trading cards!

Hot Dog Cookout

Capstone Classic Construction, the contractor for The Cottages at Hickory Crossing, grilled hot dogs and handed out cold water and snacks on Thursday for homeless citizens surrounding the Cottages site. An important element of the Cottages is the outreach to the homeless community in the design and building of this innovative housing first model. 

Cottages Under Construction

Learn more about The Cottages at Hickory Crossing here.

September 2014 saw the start of construction on the Cottages at Hickory Crossing permanent supportive housing community.  Located on a three-acre site less than one mile from downtown Dallas, the Cottages will provide on site permanent housing and support services for the fifty most chronically homeless residents of Dallas.  

The design process began over five years ago and included a combination of research, focus group charrettes, conversations in the neighborhood, and a comprehensive engagement of stakeholders in the decision-making process.  This approach to engagement and design yielded a design for fifty individual 430 square-foot homes.  The Cottages at Hickory Crossing design re-imagines traditional models by abandoning compartmentalized forms for a composition of separate but linked structures.  Individual homes encourage stronger personal identity while promoting a sense of community for residents.  The 4,000 square-feet of support-service spaces comprising the Services Building will be located under one large “porch roof”.  A series of courtyards and a common green connect the homes and Services Building and provide flexible space for activities from urban farming to outdoor recreating, encouraging interaction between neighbors. 

Project partners include: CitySquare, Central Dallas Community Development Corporation, Metrocare Services, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, Dallas County Criminal Justice System, UT Southwestern Medical Center, and initial funding provided by the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas.  For information on funding or other opportunities, please contact Shawn Wills, Chief Development Officer at CitySquare.

In September 2012, the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects honored the project with an Unbuilt Design Award.

Macon Starks

Read more about the Macon Starks project.

Design meetings have spanned the summer and fall of 2015 for seven new rental homes for seniors in the Ideal neighborhood of South Dallas.  Residents graciously convened over five warm (sweltering may be a more appropriate description for some) Saturdays in the vacant home on site to discuss and develop the design of the series of homes.  Conversation was framed around the current assets, challenges and opportunities of the neighborhood.  From there, discussion focused in on how the proposed homes could become an amenity to the senior residents and community by harnessing select opportunities and facing select challenges.

Currently, the site strategy promotes social interaction among residents as well as physical health and safety by means of internal walking paths, active and passive gardens, and visual connections via specifically oriented porches, windows and doors.

Design meetings are scheduled to wrap up this fall with design development completing in early 2015.

El Naranjal

Learn more about our work in the RGV.

El Naranjal is a 21 unit infill single-family housing project located in Brownsville, Texas. Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB), who [bc] works closely with on many projects in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, asked [bc] to design a series of three bedroom, two bathroom homes within an existing suburban community aimed at first time homeowners. A main design challenge was to foster community within a nondescript suburban development, while providing the residents with opportunities for choice and individuality.

Ultimately, five different floor plans were designed with a total of nine elevation combinations, affording home-buying families the choice of the design that works best for them. The exterior of the homes are a combination of brick and fiber cement siding, sometimes accented with cedar wood screens. The shared vibrant color and material palette allow the homes to relate to each other and the existing neighbors while maintaining their own identities.

Exterior space was key to the project, with front porches prominently featured and landscaping native to south Texas adorning the homes. Two shared outdoor green spaces, formed where the back yards of the houses connect, provide a unique amenity to the residents of the El Naranjal community.

View photos on Facebook.

South Boulevard

Learn more about South Boulevard.

Design wrapped up this summer on four single-family townhomes to be located on South Boulevard and Thomas Tolbert Avenue in the Jeffries-Meyers neighborhood of South Dallas. Ten weeks of community stakeholder focus groups and on-the-ground engagement drove the design process for the homes.  

Historic, current and future neighborhood identity were common themes of design discussions in the community. Residents desired that the homes would respect the existing neighborhood fabric but also speak to the direction the community wants to take: one that is sustainable, resilient, accessible, diverse and safe. 

The contract for construction of the homes is currently being awarded while the homes are simultaneously being offered for pre-sale by the developer, SouthFair Community Development Corporation.  

Cottages Groundbreaking

A public-private partnership of Dallas organizations broke ground on April 17, 2014, on The Cottages at Hickory Crossing, an innovative permanent supportive housing project and a model for the future in the campaign to end chronic homelessness. When completed, The Cottages at Hickory Crossing will provide homes for 50 chronically homeless Dallas residents who suffer from severe mental illness and have also been involved in the criminal justice system. Residents will live in small, freestanding cottages on a wooded site southeast of downtown and will receive intensive behavioral health services, paired with social services and supports, to improve their lives.

Speakers included Larry James, President & CEO CitySquare, Brent Christopher, President & CEO Communities Foundation of Texas, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Dr. John Burruss, CEO Metrocare Services, and Dallas City Council Member Carolyn Davis of District 7.

ACT Headquarters

Learn more about ACT.

ACT (Advocates for Community Transformation) is an inner-city justice ministry based in West DallasACT’s mission is to represent inner-city residents and mobilize volunteer legal teams in order to hold the owners of drug houses and abandoned properties accountable.  In order to continue seeking transformation in the neighborhoods that need it most, ACT has determined that it is crucial to establish a permanent presence in West Dallas.  For this reason, ACT came to [bc] to design a new office that meets the growing group’s needs at the center of the communities it serves.  

Construction is set to begin on the office in 2015.

See photos of ACT on Facebook!

Dallas Heroes

Learn more about our Informing work.

Dallas Heroes was initiated by bcWORKSHOP in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s incredible legacy of service. Dr. King challenged us to build a more perfect union and taught us that everyone has a role to play. With the Dallas Heroes project, on January 20th we honored some of those who serve or have served locally by distributing "Dallas Heroes" trading cards across the city of Dallas. Our hope is that this advocacy will encourage you to honor your heroes and to engage the causes that you care about.

How were the 25 heroes chosen? For the First Edition we nominated our own local heroes, the people that have inspired us by striving to bring greater economic, social, and environmental justice to Dallas. They come from a wide range of causes, including civil rights, environmental justice, and the arts. There are many more heroes to honor - now we welcome your submissions for the Second Edition.

Why trading cards? They’re tangible, portable, collectible, and fun. We were inspired by vintage sports cards, and we believe our heroes can be celebrated in this form as well.

Where can I get a pack? This is a limited edition of 1,000 packs, distributed across the city. You can find locations posted on Twitter and Instagram (#dallasheroes). The cards will not be reprinted!

What can I do? Submit and share your Dallas heroes, either through the website www.dallasheroes.org, or through Twitter or Instagram  (#dallasheroes). On the website you can also connect to the causes or organizations associated with some of the 25 heroes in this pack. We encourage you to find other local opportunities for volunteerism, advocacy, or donations.

When will the Second Edition come out? That all depends on you and the submissions we receive. Submit your heroes through www.dallasheroes.org for a chance to win a t-shirt featuring your Dallas Hero!

More questions? Give us a call at 214-252-2900, e-mail us at inform@bcworkshop.org or drop by our office at 416 S. Ervay Street!


Read more about the Dallas Heroes project in the local Dallas media:

Dallas Morning News

D Magazine

Belden Trail Up & Rolling

Read more about our work in the RGV.

belden trail_complete

A new pedestrian and biking trail was recently completed in Brownsville, TX that connects the historic neighborhoods of West Brownsville, Rio Viejo, and Downtown.  The Belden Trail, once an abandoned rail line, is now part of the City’s growing network of walking and biking infrastructure. Named after one of the City's founders, Belden Street was converted to an extension of the West Rail Line, then abandoned to backyard alleys, and has now been reclaimed as 5,170 linear feet of accessible park. It is book-ended by Sunrise Rotary Park and Riverside Park and connects to three different schools. The neighborhoods that have direct access to the trail are diverse, but primarily low-income, with many families and elderly that rely on alternative forms of transportation.

Since the first patch of concrete was placed, the community began to provide the life and vibrancy to the trail that will ensure its success.  Any evening in West Brownsville one will find families out together on this stretch of land, now lit and cared for, that they were afraid to walk through just six months ago.  Both programmed and informal events continue to take place along the trail, including two bikes for tikes rides, social walks and rides, and art projects.

The project team consisted of: Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) - client bcWORKSHOP- community outreach and design Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) - construction

The land is owned by the City of Brownsville, and funded and developed by BCIC and a grant from the Texas Parks & Wildlife. Other City departments contributed to the design and approval and investment process, including but not limited to a sidewalk accessibility improvement project around the trail and public transit routes in the neighborhood (BMetro) and increased street lighting (PUB).

bcWORKSHOP was involved for the past year in pre-design community engagement, design, and construction management, and participatory activities throughout the process. Even while under construction, and in full swing now, the community itself has initiated a number of events and engaged activities along the trail.  bcWORKSHOP continues to participate, as a part of the neighborhood, in community-driven activities along the trail.

belden trail engagement

Throughout initial community engagement, the top priorities were consistently safety and shade.  The design provides complete protection from vehicular traffic, increased crossing safety at each of the 16 street crossings through traffic calming measures and additional signage, and additional lighting throughout.  Designed as an urban one-mile linear park, it has ancillary paths and rest areas that provide shade, seating, trash, and bike parking.  All landscape was selected for its beauty, shading, low-maintenance and drought resistance qualities, and for its history and ruggedness in the unique South Texas ecosystem.

Like Friends of the Belden Trail on Facebook!

Read more about the Belden Trail:

Master plan lays out vision for connected Brownsville - Brownsville Herald

Brownsville Celebrates Opening of Belden Trail - Brownsville Herald

Belden Trail off and running - Brownsville Herald

Belden Trail takes Strides - Brownsville Herald

The Long Road to the Belden Trail - United Brownsville

Brownsville Receives Rail-Trail Grant from Texas Parks & Wildlife - Bike Texas

Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence Silver Medal

The Bruner Foundation Inc., sponsor of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA), has announced its 2013 Gold and Silver Medalists, marking twenty-five years of honoring innovative urban placemaking. 

The Bruner Foundation Inc., sponsor of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA), has announced its 2013 Gold and Silver Medalists, marking twenty-five years of honoring innovative urban placemaking. Founded in 1987, the biennial award celebrates urban places distinguished by quality design and contributions to the social, economic, and communal vitality of our nation's cities. A selection committee of six urban experts determined the winners from among five finalists, naming Inspiration Kitchens-Garfield Park (Chicago, IL) the Gold Medalist and recipient of $50,000 to support the project. bcWORKSHOP congratulates Inspiration Kitchens on this accolade recognizing both its innovation and replicability.

Inspiration Kitchens—Garfield Park – Chicago, IL - submitted by Inspiration Corporation. An entrepreneurial, nonprofit initiative on Chicago’s west side that includes an 80-seat restaurant. The LEED Gold certified facility serves free and affordable healthy meals in an economically challenged neighborhood and offers a thirteen-week training program that helps individuals gain skills and experience leading to food service industry employment. “We are honored to have been chosen from the outstanding finalists to receive this award,” says Shannon Stewart, executive director and CEO, Inspiration Corporation. “We are proud of our success in creating meaningful connections in Garfield Park and are grateful that the award will help us continue to engage with members of this underserved community.”

The four 2013 RBA Silver Medalists each receive $10,000 to support their projects:

Congo Street Initiative - Dallas, TX - submitted by buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. The LEED Gold or Platinum-certified rehabilitation of five houses and the construction of a sixth for transitional housing, as well as a green street designed in collaboration with residents.

Louisville Waterfront Park – Louisville, KY – submitted by Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation. An 85-acre urban park developed over more than two decades that repurposed abandoned industrial land and reconnected the city with the Ohio River.

The Steel Yard - Providence, RI – submitted by Klopfer Martin Design Group. A 3.5-acre historic steel fabrication facility transformed into an environmentally responsible campus for arts education, workforce training, and small-scale manufacturing.

Via Verde - Bronx, NY – submitted by Jonathan Rose Companies and Phipps Houses. A 222-unit, LEED Gold certified, affordable housing development in the Bronx designed as a model for healthy and sustainable urban living.

“Our twenty-fifth anniversary Rudy Bruner Award winners highlight the diversity of innovation in our cities today,” says Simeon Bruner, founder of RBA. “They show us urban excellence at all scales and inspire us with their optimism.”

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP led the Congo Street Initiative in the transformation of a small forgotten street in the Jubilee Park neighborhood of Dallas, and in doing so presented a model for community revitalization. The initiative was built on close collaboration with residents and the successful coordination of partners, funders, and volunteers. "We are honored to have been selected as a finalist and continue to be humbled as we receive a 2013 silver medal," states Brent Brown, bcWORKSHOP's founding director.

3313 Beall receives AIA Dallas Jury Commendation!

3313 Beall Street, bcWORKSHOP’s first completed sustainABLEhouse in the Dolphin Heights neighborhood, received a jury commendation from the 2013 AIA Dallas Built Design Awards in recognition of outstanding architectural design and achievement. Jennifer Mayfield of bcWORKSHOP was present to accept the award at the Dallas Museum of Art on October 9th. Juror comments included:

It is important to never lose sight of the social obligation that we have to frame architecture for the public...To have a group of people who are working diligently to create something that would make housing available, to include an extensive participation process, I think is of great importance, and is something we should all be proud of and encourage here in Dallas. I think we have a worldwide problem with housing and this is one way that we can address it successfully.
— Dan Rockhill, of Studio 804 at the University of Kansas

New sAh Underway

Read about other sustainABLEhouse projects.

Construction drawings have been completed for the first client-driven sustainABLEhouse in Dallas. The client, an 81 year old resident of the Frazier and Bertrand neighborhoods, was brought to the bcWORKSHOP through a partnership with Frazier Revitalization Inc.  FRI enlisted bcW to provide the engagement + design services for the new 750 sf home and its wooded site just blocks from the client's existing home of 29 years.

Engagement + design occurred onsite and at the client's current home over a three week period in July 2013. The client responded very well to the design process, eagerly filling out the initial homework assignment following the first meeting, to help bcW understand his family structure, how he uses his current home, and any specific needs that the forthcoming design could help address.  In subsequent design meetings, the client was whole-heartedly engaged and his growing excitement was clear. Throughout the process, the client was very attentive to considerations such as durability, maintenance, functionality, and budget.  After participating in the design process, the resulting home design will be one that is most suited for the client's personal and family needs.

Over the course of the month, a design was developed that reflects the client's family-focused life and love for his wooded site. The home will sit gently on the site behind an enormous pecan tree and among a mixture of a dozen established bois d'arc and hackberry trees.  A small open porch at the front of the home will greet the street, originally designed at the client's request to host his frequent domino matches. Since design has begun, however, this porch has shifted to become the "card porch" as client's gaming taste has changed (according to the doctor, playing dominoes gives him high blood pressure). The "L" shaped home will wrap around a fenced backyard where the client's grandchildren will be able to safely play away from the street, while additional family members gather in the wide open living, dining, and kitchen space.

Bidding for the construction of the home will now ensue and construction will follow. The goal is to have the client in his new home by the end of the year.

Visibly Making an Impact

Learn more about sustainABLEhouse in the RGV.

Still in its first year, sustainABLEhouse LRGV, in partnership with Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB), has worked with 23 families (totalling 64 people) from 17 different neighborhoods throughout Cameron County. Each family is an integral part of the design process, helping to guide design decisions beginning with the layout of their house and ending with the selection of colors and finishes.

Seven homes are currently under construction, ranging from foundation preparation to final energy efficiency inspection. Two more homes are scheduled to begin construction by the end of July with a steady stream of construction start dates to follow. bcWORKSHOP staff in both the Dallas and Brownsville offices have been working on this effort. We share the responsibilities of design, design reviews, construction drawings, and refinement of program goals and practices. Client meetings and construction administration are carried out by the Brownsville office.

Our design process is initiated by the clients. They elect to work with us by agreeing to complete a brief homework assignment before we sit down to focus on design. The homework is a booklet of questions asking the client such things as general family information, how they use space inside and outside their home, and specific needs that the design can help address. The design process varies depending on if the client chooses a catalog home design or the custom design process.

After our design process and after bcWORKSHOP has completed the construction drawings, we meet with the client and the contractor to discuss the goals of the design, the construction drawings, and the construction process. Once construction begins, bcWORKSHOP regularly visits each home with CDCB’s construction manager. Together we look over the work with the contractor and address any issues. In addition to checking progress, construction visits are an opportunity to document and share how a house comes together. Photos from these construction visits serve as a communication tool for our clients on how their home is constructed and as a teaching and learning tool within bcWORKSHOP.

The immediate goals for sustainABLEhouse LRGV are to continue expanding and evolving our home design catalog, assist CDCB in their outreach strategies, and help more families throughout the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

CDCB Construction Standards

Learn more about our work in the RGV.

cdcb standards materials

bcWORKSHOP is developing residential construction standards for the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) in partnership with CDCB’s team of advisors. Residential construction standards are a customized set of best practices intended to regulate and elevate construction quality, improving the overall quality of life for their clients.  Construction standards will ensure that CDCB residential projects are planned, designed, and constructed to promote sustainable development and best practices for the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  These standards will create continuity and equity between products and will standardize process, policies, and procedures.

In order to achieve the above goals, construction standards will incorporate recommendations from local and national performance standards that address healthy, affordable, constructible, low-tech, sustainable building practices appropriate for South Texas and CDCB.  Currently, all projects built under these guidelines will qualify for:

  • Indoor airPLUS of the Environmental Protection Agency
  • LRGV Low Impact Development
  • RGV Green Built

Construction standards will be complete and ready for implementation by the end of summer 2013.

Academic Influences Panel

Read more from our Shopfront series.

June 7, 2013: Opening Reception and Panel

On Friday, June 7th, bcWORKSHOP hosted a panel on the relationship between academic institutions, professional design practices, and the national public design movement. The panel was moderated by bcWORKSHOP's Associate Director Benje Feehan, and included Yasenia Blandon, the co-founder of Latinos in Architecture and Associate at Perkins + Will, Danny Samuels of the Rice Building Workshop, and Don Gatzke, Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Trinity Eco Classroom

In early March 2013,  GroundWork Dallas partnered with bcWORKSHOP to develop a design for their new Eco-Classroom.  Groundwork Dallas is the local affiliate of the Groundwork USA network.  Their mission is to “enable people to realize the merits of the Great Trinity Forest, its surrounding resources, and its impact on our future. And, to encourage the community to use, preserve, and enhance these natural resources.”

They achieve their mission through:

  • the construction of trail systems, parks, and gardens,
  • transforming vacant lots into community spaces and gardens,
  • educating children, adults and communities,
  • and by working to revitalize one of Dallas’s greatest assets, the Trinity River.

The Eco-Classroom site is positioned at the confluence of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River and Bachman Creek, which make up the last natural channel of the river before reaching the main levee system. Currently, the area is choked with trash.  The designed pavilion will sit tucked into the bend of the river and will act as a launching point for GroundWork teams to clean up the area.

The design allows for large groups to arrive on site, hike through the area, and use the pavilion as a base to learn about the natural ecology and the challenges it faces. From there they can head out on foot or canoe to spend the day exploring this amazing Dallas feature.

bcW worked with the Groundworks staff and Green Team to develop parameters which would guide the design.  Other design inspiration came from the shape of the river, the feeling of sitting under a tree at the river bank and the Great Blue Heron, which calls this part of the river home.

The design is currently in the schematic phase as GroundWork raises funds for the project.  Check back for more updates soon!

3313 Beall Complete

Learn more about sustainABLEhouse.

The completed house at 3313 Beall Street.
The completed house at 3313 Beall Street.

The construction of the first sustainABLEhouse in Dallas is complete!  The home is located at 3313 Beall Street, in the heart of the Dolphin Heights neighborhood.  After a three and a half month build, the house is now for sale.  Contact Helen Gonzales Crawford of Better Lifestyles Real Estate at (214)324-2497 if you are interested in purchasing the house.

Construction began at the end of October 2012.
Construction began at the end of October 2012.
Residents choose the cladding for the house.
Residents choose the cladding for the house.
Preparing hardscape
Preparing hardscape
Over the three and a half month construction period, the house saw 277 visits from Dolphin Heights neighbors, the Belay House after school program kids, and the greater Dallas community.
Over the three and a half month construction period, the house saw 277 visits from Dolphin Heights neighbors, the Belay House after school program kids, and the greater Dallas community.
Open House on February 23, 2013.
Open House on February 23, 2013.

Congo Street Initiative

Learn more about our work in Dallas.


Congo Street is located just two miles from Dallas’s city center and three blocks from the Texas State Fair grounds in the East Dallas neighborhood of Jubilee Park, a 62-block area housing approximately 2,000 residents. With a density of 26 units per acre and houses averaging 600 square feet, Congo Street is a remnant of a socially and economically segregated time. Built around 1920, this small community of dwellings fell into disrepair with little attention from landlords, the surrounding neighborhood, or the City itself. Many current residents are the children and grandchildren of former renters and witness to multiple generations of its tight-knit community. The area continues to struggle with poverty, language barriers, low educational attainment, lack of job skills and vocational opportunities, and other challenges of lower-income communities.

The Congo Street Initiative started from the desire to help stabilize the home-ownership of five families on Congo Street, which was was forgotten and slated to be removed and redeveloped. The project grew through intense interaction with residents, stakeholders and partners into a collaborative design and redevelopment effort that produced three phases of work:

Holding House - With a common desire to remain on the street despite the urgent need to repair their homes, residents were hesitant to move forward with any plans that would displace them, even temporarily. The challenge was how to redevelop without relying upon relocation or incurring steep financial burden. bcWORKSHOP and the residents began by exploring alternative solutions. Through neighborhood meetings, the idea emerged to build a new residence on the street that would serve as a temporary home for each family during the evaluation and renovation/rebuilding of their homes. The Holding House model delivered a new value to this community by rebuilding it while retaining its social cohesion.

4537 - Holding House Completion - September 2008

De-constructing and re-constructing 5 family homes - Next, one by one, each family moved into the Holding House and was closely involved in the design and construction of the rebuilding of their homes. Instead of conventional demolition, each existing home was carefully deconstructed to preserve the materials. The incorporation of those reclaimed materials in the new home preserve the memory of the old home and the familial connections to each place. As the original structures measured 625 square feet  each, larger contemporary homes would have been inappropriate for the scale of the street. Thoughtful design driven by resident input resulted in functional, energy efficient homes with small footprints. The largest rebuilt home measures just 975 square feet distributed on two stories, accommodating a large, multigenerational household.

4529 - Frankie’s Home Completion - April 2009

4523 - Vernessia’s Home Completion - June 2009

4525 - Pat & Earnest’s Home Completion - September 2009

4539 - Fred’s Home Completion - May 2010

4533 - Ms. Ella’s Home Completion - August 2010

Green Street - Finally, a green infrastructure was implemented in two parts: 1) rebuilding the existing street into Dallas's first "Green Street" in order to incorporate stormwater management, retention, and bio-filtration while also making it a safer place for residents to live and play; and 2) adding solar power and solar thermal systems to the homes and meeting with residents (Power Plus) to assist in reducing their energy consumption and concomitant utility costs.

Solar Panel Installations Completed - February 2011

Green Street/Infrastructure Completion - November 2012

Beyond securing healthier indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and durability through sustainable building practices, all homes are also shaped to contribute to the social enrichment and livelihood of the street through features such as generous front porches and shared landscaping. The new Green Street design features a system that maximizes the filtration of rainfall and other runoff. The street width for traffic is reduced, limiting the use of impervious concrete and improving pedestrian safety.  All aspects if the initiative were optimized for multiple  dimensions of performance.

Attesting to the initiative’s design caliber, the project has received the following local and national design awards:

  • 2008 Dallas AIA Excellence in Community Design Award & Excellence in Sustainable Design Award (Holding House)
  • 2010 Dallas AIA Excellence in Community Design Award & Excellence in Sustainable Design Award (Ms. Ella's House)
  • 2010 AIA & U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department Secretary’s Award: Excellence in Community Informed Design (Congo Street)
  • 2011 SEED National Competition Winner (Congo Street)
  • 2013 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence Silver Medalist (Congo Street)

The Congo Street Initiative was a successful partnership between:

  • Congo Street families (a total of 27 people)
  • 20+ local resident volunteers
  • 65+ architecture students from the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture
  • Hundreds of volunteers in conjunction with AmeriCorps, Volunteers in Service to America, and several local service groups

Funding for the Congo Street home rebuilds included support from The Meadows Foundation, the City of Dallas, The Real Estate Council, Citi Community Development, and individual donors. The alternative energy systems are funded by Patriot Solar Power through a grant from the Sue Pope Foundation.

The Green Street was fully funded by the City of Dallas in partnership with the City of Dallas Public Works & Housing Departments, Southern Methodist University Bobby Lyle School of Engineering, Huitt-Zollars Engineering, and the Texas Trees Foundation.

Design for Community Advocates

Learn more about our Dallas work.

ACT (Advocates for Community Transformation) is an inner-city justice ministry based in West Dallas. ACT’s mission is to represent inner-city residents and mobilize volunteer legal teams in order to hold the owners of drug houses and abandoned properties accountable.  ACT’s legal work addresses this need through an ongoing casework approach supported by a strategy for structural prevention. In order to continue seeking transformation in these neighborhoods, ACT has determined that it is crucial to establish a permanent presence in West Dallas by building its own office. The new office will allow the organization to grow its work as well as demonstrate that ACT is committed long-term to the West Dallas community.

bcWORKSHOP has begun the process to design a new headquarters for Advocates for Community Transformation. This process has involved a series of staff and stakeholder meetings to determine project intentions, building program, and site strategy. The goal is to ensure that the building is driven by and enhances ACT’s mission and responds to the West Dallas context and community.

From a quality model exercise, priorities identified for the design included:

  • Interior qualities - The ACT team needs an environment that supports its work with quiet places to concentrate as well as team orientated spaces where collaborations flourish.  Carefully placed thresholds will allow ACT to showcase its work to visitors as well as maintain confidentiality of its strategy and clients. The office should feel welcoming, homelike and safe to all employees, guests and clients.
  • Safety/Security - The building and property needs to be safe and secure for all employees,guests and clients. Measures such as a secure building envelope, secure thresholds, clear separations between private and public spaces and additional security technology will all be explored to create the necessary level of safety for the site and building.
  • Engineering Performance - Heating and cooling systems should be chosen based on efficiency and life cycle costs. A robust and flexible IT infrastructure will insure technical connectivity throughout the entire building.
  • Community Values - The project should reflect ACT’s commitment to being a stable presence in the community as well as a safe place for its clients and staff. The building is a physical investment in the neighborhood that should reflect ACT’s mission to transform communities through thoughtful and diligent work.The scale and intimacy of the building should reflect its neighborhood.

Three schematic design options have been created by bcW and presented to key stakeholders.  In the upcoming months bcW, with direction from ACT and an approved budget, will further develop the building strategy. Once the schematic design is approved, bcWORKSHOP will compile a funding package featuring the proposed building, design process, and a preliminary budget.