Disaster Recovery Round 2

See more posts about Disaster Recovery Round 2 here!

Disaster Recovery Round 2 has nearly come to an end, over 240 homes have been built to date across 6 neighborhoods throughout the city of Houston. In August the program was extended with an additional 44 homes. [bc] has met with 33 of those homeowners to select their new homes, 21 home designs have been submitted for permit to date. 

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Community Design Lessons at Structures for Inclusion 2015

Learn more about RAPIDO and DR2, our solutions to post-disaster recovery housing.

From April 11-12, [bc] presented at the Structures for Inclusion conference in Detroit, MI and learned from other examples of public interest design. Elaine Morales-Díaz contributed to the discussion on the role of resiliency in public interest design by presenting the disaster recovery housing program, a context-based, innovative model for disaster relief housing that encompasses all of the tenets of resiliency. Resiliency not only includes recovering from a disaster, but preparing for recovery in a comprehensive way (also known as "pre-covery") that allows local teams to respond & adapt to current or sudden adversities without sacrificing community engagement, home design, or home quality.  Projects from Detroit and other resilient cities were presented to practitioners of public interest architecture & design, who were challenged to incorporate community engagement principles into questions of urban revitalization and resilience.

Structures for Inclusion is an annual conference hosted by Design Corps that features SEED Award winners. The SEED Award is given to design and architectural projects that have exceptional social, economic and environmental impact.

There were also lessons we took from the context of Detroit.  The Impact Detroit Community Development Guides have resonance for [bc]'s three geographies given that they all face the challenge of dealing with vacant urban in-fill. The guides provide a way for citizens and community members to participate in revitalization and development efforts. Detroit's location also provided valuable takeaways on engaging people outside the design community in public interest design work. A solid methodology is key to engaging various stakeholders, as well as reflecting on what went well during the design process & what didn't.  [bc]'s six core methods of work -- informing, analyzing, activating, mapping, making & storytelling -- are designed for that purpose. Understanding the relationship between design & other elements in the built environment requires seeking knowledge outside of our field. 

In particular, the El Guadual Youth Development Center in Colombia is an example of how architecture can provide appropriate facilities for young children in an educational context while incorporating students into the design process. However, the buildings themselves were a catalyst for social improvement, and their design/construction programs increased the local community's skill set.  In Brownsville[bc] has developed a house design to be built by participants in the Youthbuild program, which aims to teach low-income youth construction skills in the Rio Grande Valley

Susan Szenasy, editor-in-chief of Metropolis Magazine, was also a keynote speaker on Saturday night.  She provided sharp insight on how architects can better engage stakeholders and communicate their intentions more clearly through the showcase of projects like Via Verde in New York City.  Via Verde is an example of how affordable housing can be beautiful, low-cost, and provide dignity & choice to its residents. Projects where we strive to encompass these principles include Congo St. in Dallas and DR2 in HoustonDR2 in particular has incorporated housing choice among residents as a key component of the post-disaster housing recovery process.  Szenasy also mentioned how Metropolis' relative lack of architectural jargon and commitment to storytelling makes design more accessible to the public. [bc] strives to make sure its informing & storytelling efforts are relevant to a wide range of audiences both inside and outside the design community through the use of web posts, social media, community engagement events, and neighborhood research.

Overall, SFI 15 was a positive experience, especially for the seven bcFELLOWS in attendance -- it provided networking opportunities and showcased examples of public interest design in a variety of contexts. The conference allowed fellows in particular the opportunity to engage with a variety of practitioners & observe different models for practicing public interest design.

Improving the Recovery Process

Learn more about our disaster recovery projects RAPIDO and DR2.

In Texas, disaster recovery takes far too long and is marred by inefficiencies and high costs. Instead of re-inventing disaster recovery programs after every disaster, we need to plan for recovery before a disaster strikes, allowing for faster recovery time with less money invested to build greater value. In 2009, the Texas State Legislature passed legislation creating a demonstration project to design a better system. The Legislature needs to act again to expand this Texas solution.

Given our work with the RAPIDO Demonstration Project in the RGV and Disaster Recovery Round 2 in Houston, we joined with our partners and created a video outlining what needs to change in our Texas disaster response programs.

DR2 Design Meetings and Construction

See more posts about Disaster Recovery Round 2 here!

As a part of Round 2 of the City of Houston’s Disaster Recovery Program (DR2), the design team, led by bcWORKSHOP and supported by Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, Unabridged Architecture, and the University of Houston Community Design Resource Center, is working to deliver single family infill home designs. 

The team is committed to delivering high-quality cost-effective sustainable designs that respect the communities interests and character while offering individual homeowner choice through individual design meetings. These design meetings allowed each family to further customize their chosen design from the Home Design Catalogue in order to ensure it fit their needs and site constrains for construction.


More information about this program can also be found at the Disaster Recovery Round 2 project website. You can also download our DR2 Design Guidebook to find out more about the six neighborhoods involved in this process.

Design Gallery

Read more about the Disaster Recovery Round 2 work in Houston.

16 Preliminary home design boards were displayed for community review and feedback on Thursday, February 27th. The designs presented were a result of the collaborative design process between the project team, local design architects, community participants, residents and DR2 applicants from the CRA and Outreach Neighborhoods; Acres Homes, Independence Heights, Near Northside, Fifth Ward, OST/ South Union, and Sunnyside. To view the designs, and learn more about the project, visit: dr2homedesign.org

Check out photos from the event on our Facebook page!

DR2 Housing Design Focus Group

See more posts about Disaster Recovery Round 2 here!

On February 13th, the design team welcomed neighborhood residents, community leaders, and local design architects to the Community Focus Group held in the Community Room and the Jayne Junkin’s Memorial Room at the Texas Organizing Project office in Houston. The focus groups reviewed preliminary schematic home designs. Participants spoke one-on-one with the local architects on each of over 30 designs that were presented to address comments, questions and concerns. Participant input informed the development of schematic home designs presented in the Gallery Show on February 27, 2014. 

More information about this program can also be found at the Disaster Recovery Round 2 project website. You can now download our DR2 Design Guidebook to find out more about the six neighborhoods involved in this process.

DR2 Community Design Workshop

Read more about the Disaster Recovery Round 2 work in Houston.

DR2 Community Workshop

On February 1st, the project team welcomed neighborhood residents, community leaders, local design architects, and city staff to Houston Housing Authority’s Neighborhood Resource Center, where they worked together to advance the housing interests of the six target communities. Over 50 participants were in attendance.

The Community Design Workshop used activities to document contextual and programmatic design preferences for Community Revitalization Areas (CRA) & Outreach Areas, and will inform schematic home designs, including floor plans and elevations. Participants at the Community Design Workshop were divided into six groups, based on CRA & Outreach Area neighborhoods (Acre Homes, Independence Heights, Near Northside, Fifth Ward, OST/South Union, and Sunnyside). Each participant was encouraged to share and debate ideas with the assumption that all ideas were welcomed.

Context - Participants identified neighborhood priorities in the following design categories - building performance, foundation, driveway, roof, porch, texture, doors, windows, and window details. Using a blackjack style card game, complete with a “wild card” option, participants drew their preferred building component and debated each option with their group.

Home Design - Participants diagramed their existing home and site layout, then designed their model home to accommodate their family’s needs, indicating programmatic adjacencies and areas of most importance within the home.

Conclusions - Each CRA & Outreach Area shared highlights from their group sessions which included three things about their neighborhood’s context and three things about their home designs to the entire Community Design Workshop group.

More information about this program can also be found at the Disaster Recovery Round 2 project website. You can now download our DR2 Design Guidebook to find out more about the six neighborhoods involved in this process.

Future events will include a follow up focus group, hosted by the project team and local design architects; and a home design Gallery Show on February 27th to present design ideas generated during the February 1st Community Design Workshop for selection.

Disaster Recovery in Houston

Read more about Disaster Recovery Round 2 in Houston.

Now in it's 6th year, bcWORKSHOP is expanding again, this time to Houston, Texas. We are still getting our feet wet down here, but we’ve already started to connect with some great organizations and people. Not only are we looking forward to meeting more, we are even more eager to be a part of a community dedicated to bringing great possibilities in this city to fruition. Our first project is a program called Disaster Recovery Round Two (DR2). With the City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department and Texas General Land Office, we are planning to play a key role in rebuilding up to 400 homes in neighborhoods damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Ike in the Fall of 2008. And because this project is our first in Houston, we see this as an opportunity to engage a wide variety of Houstonians on how to approach redevelopment with sensitivity to the local context and existing community.

Houston neighborhood elevations

Along with our project partners, Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, unabridged Architects and University of Houston Community Design Resource Center,  we are tapping into the expertise of the local architecture community and the residents from six affected neighborhoods: Independence Heights, Acres Homes, Near Northside, Greater Fifth Ward, Old Spanish Trail/South Union and Sunnyside. During a working charrette, which will be held on February 1st, neighborhood leaders, potential residents, the local design architects and the project partners will discover what types of homes people want to see in their communities. The six different groups will share project information, programmatic preferences and contextual design preferences through a series of conversations and design exercises. The information gathered at this event will be highly important for the local design architects to generate preliminary schematic home designs, which will be exhibited in Gallery Show at the end of February. A celebration rather than another working session, the Gallery Show is where the communities can view the different designs, ask questions, debate and vote on their favorites. The designs with the most votes will be made available for selection by residents who are qualified through the DR2 program for construction. Construction is planned to begin in the Summer of 2014.

By bringing a diversity of community residents, design professionals and stakeholders together in the design process, we see a chance to produce a wider variety of well considered and energy efficient home designs than typically available in disaster recovery efforts. Utilizing a process where design professionals and clients can share their respective expertise will result in attractive, well functioning and livable homes. We are excited to begin this opportunity to help create homes that engender pride in not just the homeowner, but also in the whole community.

For those interested in this project, and living in the Houston area, please join us at our Gallery Show, scheduled for February 27th! Drop us a line by email at inform@bcworkshop.org, find us on twitter or like our facebook page to hear more details as they come. We would love to meet you and hear what potential you see in this city. We are glad to join in on dreaming about what else Houston can be!