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.

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

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.

SMU deploys POP Toolkit

Learn more about POP Dallas.

testing sensors
testing sensors
creating power source for sensor node
creating power source for sensor node

In February 2013, Southern Methodist University’s Innovation Gymnasium and bcWORKSHOP began talks about a partnership to bring engineering students into neighborhoods to develop socially engaged technology solutions. The Innovation Gymnasium regularly runs Immersion Design Experiences (IDEs), intensive ten-day interdisciplinary engineering design projects for real clients that allow students to build skills with client relations, research, prototyping, finance, and marketing. During the last week of May 2013, the IDE began work within Dolphin Heights. Seven engineering students were presented with an unwieldy problem: how can you measure healthy living environment, connectivity, and cohesion, three of the Measures contained in the POP Toolkit? They brainstormed a number of possible solutions including: a wireless sensor network that could detect noise, light, weather, and air quality and relay the information to a website to host and display collected data; an interactive Neighborhood Board to display sensor-gathered data and also collect qualitative data; and a Wi-Fi bench to serve as a gathering place for the community while providing Wi-Fi to the neighborhood. Due to the budget and time constraints, the students decided to focus on producing the wireless sensor network and the website to display the collected data.

By tracking levels of sound intensity at sensors scattered throughout the neighborhood, students hypothesized that they could map movement and pinpoint circulation patterns (connectivity), gathering places (cohesion), as well as ambient noise (healthy living environment). Tracking light with photosensors at night and during the day would identify light pollution and available shade, two more components of a healthy living environment. An additional single sensor recording weather and air quality would help understand pollution (healthy living environment).

presentation of prototype to bcWORKSHOP and Ms Hill
presentation of prototype to bcWORKSHOP and Ms Hill

The students did a commendable job working hard under pressure with a great deal of sensitivity to the neighborhood’s interests and perceptions. Their technical success compares with their enthusiasm to extend their short-term solution into a long-term project complementing the POP Toolkit’s mission: assisting grassroots planning by preparing the community as advocates for change.

Many thanks to engineering students Kate, Greg, Elizabeth, Eric, Jeff, Lauren, Matt, Austin, and Alex! We are already looking forward to future collaboration!

Belden Trail Groundbreaking

Learn more about our work in the RGV.

March 21st, 2013 marked the groundbreaking ceremony for Belden Trail in Brownsville, TX. The ceremony was held at the intersection of West 8th and Fronton Street behind Skinner Elementary School. About 100 people were in attendance, including Brownsville Mayor Martinez, Commissioner Virrareal, Skinner Elementary Principal Moore, Assistant Superintendent Haynes, Community Development Corporation Brownsville Executive Director Nick Mitchell-Bennett, and Commissioner Rose Gowen who spoke on the importance of the Trail. See local coverage of the event from the Brownsville Herald and United Brownsville!

The groundbreaking was a celebration of every contribution by community residents, stakeholders, and project partners toward the development, planning, and design of this project. The process was a community wide effort of collaboration between adjacent residents and institutions as well as project partners and the City of Brownsville.

The trail design includes a pedestrian and bike pathway connecting Skinner Elementary School to Praxedis Orive Jr. Park on Palm Boulevard. The 10 foot-wide pathway also runs alongside Sams Memorial Stadium. The trail design includes:

  • local plants and shade trees including tall grasses and wildflowers, live oak trees, red yucca, sacahuista, and mealy blue sage
  • bike racks, play areas, and local art at Rotary Park, Skinner Elementary School, and the Elizabeth Street intersection.
  • safe street crossings with the addition of street chokers to slow traffic, signage, and crosswalks.

The addition of this public space in Brownsville will encourage healthy lifestyles, diversify transportation options and increase access to natural resources. The trail will serve as an example for continued development of a city-wide trail system increasing city residents' access to cultural, recreational, and natural amenities.

The trail will be under construction for the next two months. You can read more about the background of Belden Trial here. Be sure to like The Friends of Belden Trail on Facebook for updates!

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.

Gurley Place Senior Housing

Learn more about our Making work in Dallas.

Over the past 60 years, the Jubilee Park neighborhood has experienced a shrinking population, a lack of affordable rental housing, and a deteriorating housing stock. Affordable senior housing options alleviate these trends by encouraging older, long-term residents to continue building relationships and investment in the community. Gurley Place is a 24-unit housing project for tenants over 55 that consists of 12 two-story buildings on a 0.9 acre site adjacent to the Jubilee Park and Community Center.

The design was developed through six public meetings with local residents and community stakeholders. The community set design parameters for the project and voiced concerns and local issues through activities such as design charrettes and in-depth discussions. These meetings ensured community goals were incorporated in the final design.

The project creates affordable housing opportunities by requiring that renters’ income does not exceed 80% of the median income of the neighborhood. The units’ design will decrease the residents’ utility bills by increasing the efficiency of water and energy systems. The project utilizes LEED Gold standards as a baseline and emphasizes low water use, highly durable materials, and superior indoor air quality to ensure the longevity of the building stock.

Gurley Place

Gurley Place was recognized with an Honorable Mention in the 2012 SEED Awards and is featured in the January/February 2013 issue of Texas Architect magazine.

sustainABLEhouse Under Construction

Learn more about sustainABLEhouse, and our work in Dallas and the RGV.


bcWORKSHOP is engaging in design processes to build several sustainABLEhouses in two diverse settings: Cameron County in the Rio Grande Valley and the Dolphin Heights neighborhood in Dallas.  Given the highly adaptable process of sustainABLEhouse, each setting provides a unique exploration of how the WORKSHOP can collaborate with partner families to design and build healthy, affordable homes.

Cameron County, Texas

  • In partnership with CDCB through their Colonia Redevelopment Program, eight families are engaging in the design and construction process across four different neighborhoods.
  • Each home conforms to basic design standards set forth by the Colonia Redevelopment Program and further shaped by input of the future residents through five meetings and ‘homework’ assignments.
  • The four homes average 864 square feet and accommodate an average family size of 2.5 people.
  • Construction is scheduled to begin in January 2013.

Dolphin Heights, Dallas, TX

  • This home serves as the 1st application of the initiative in the Dolphin Heights neighborhood.
  • Extensive community involvement and educational activities ensure that neighborhood voices are heard and contribute to the design.
  • This home, designed to meet rigorous energy standards, is 850 square feet and includes 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, large porch space, and the ability to expand the house in the future.
  • Construction is expected to be complete in December 2012 and we are currently seeking a homeowner partner. Contact us at 214.252.2900 for more details.

Launching our sustainABLEhouse Initiative

Watch for future posts about sustainABLEhouse.

In 2006 we convened a conversation about housing in Dallas and challenged the current thinking to engage design as the tool to bring about methods and solutions addressing equity in our city. The title of those conversations was sustainABLEhouse.

bcFELLOW Jesse Miller  surveys potentials lots with client.

bcFELLOW Jesse Miller surveys potentials lots with client.

Echoing that great dialogue, we have created under the same name an effort to provide design services to any family that wants to build and own an affordable and efficient home within the central neighborhoods of Dallas.  This work is defined by the financial interests of the family with bcWORKSHOP willing to take on any budget no matter how modest. sustainABLEhouse is an effort engaging families normally outside traditional ownership choices in our city. While upfront budgets drive the program, we will not stop there.  Specific consideration will be directed toward the life-cycle costing of the home with design crafting a durable and energy efficient house supporting the financial interests of the family.

This work is in direct response to the estimated 30,000 plus affordable homes that are still needed in Dallas (Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing). The success of sustainABLEhouse is not marked solely on affordability; rather, it is driven by a set of principles specific to Dallas: enhance neighborhood vitality; practice environmental sustainability; increase market capacity of affordable housing; influence perceptions and practices of affordable housing; promote intelligent and informed financing; and design for beauty, scale, and adaptability. The design of each sustainABLEhouse is a participatory process with the client and their neighborhood ensuring needs and opportunities are being identified and addressed.

The role of bcWORKSHOP at the beginning of a sustainABLEhouse is to work with the client to define and agree on the tasks that need to be completed, when they need to be completed, and who will take on the necessary responsibilities. Early tasks include selecting a property, which bcWORKSHOP and the client work on together, and securing financing, which the client is responsible for. bcWORKSHOP and the client continue the process well after the home is completed by participating in home performance testing.

Infographic that demonstrates the design process.

Infographic that demonstrates the design process.