Casitas Azucar: Construction to Begin in April!

Design Associate Luis Murillo works on Casitas Azucar in [bc]’s Brownsville office

Design Associate Luis Murillo works on Casitas Azucar in [bc]’s Brownsville office

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, which will begin construction next month. 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!


Expanding RAPIDO for Gulf Coast Recovery

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.

The design and partnership work with Covenant Community Capital and Texas Housers to realize RAPIDO units in Houston was supported by funding partnership with Enterprise Community Partners.

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.

DC Public Library Fab Lab Pop-Up at NoMa Now Open

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Read more about the Fab Lab here.

[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!

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Construction Underway on Tangelo Quarters

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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. 

New Home Development Program Breaks Ground in Acres Homes

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!

Macon Starks Update

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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.

Acres Homes: New Home Development Program

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:

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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!

Rapido CORE Accessory Dwelling Unit

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. 

sustainABLEhouse Model Home in Corpus Under Construction

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. 

Cottages Featured in Two Exhibitions

A view of The Cottages at Hickory Crossing in Dallas, TX. 

A view of The Cottages at Hickory Crossing in Dallas, TX. 

The Cottages at Hickory Crossing, the 50-unit permanent supportive housing complex in Dallas, TX for which [bc] served as architect, will be featured in two new exhibitions this summer.

Re-opening June 14, 2018 at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University is the Sustainable Native Communities Collective (SNCC) Bridging Boundaries exhibition. The exhibition, which runs through August 19, demonstrates "how art and design can create space for unification and negotiation." Join us for the opening reception!

This October, Design for Good: Architecture for Everyone will open at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA). The exhibition is curated by the author of the eponymous book, John Cary. 

We are thrilled to have our work featured in these important exhibitions. If you have a chance to visit them, engage with us on social media, snap a picture, and let us know what you think!

Cultivating Connections Final Presentations

See more posts about our work in DC!

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On May 1, students in Professor Barbara Brown-Wilson's Ecological Democracy course at the University of Virginia School of Architecture gave their final presentations for their Cultivating Connections project, through which they explored how to connect the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens—a National Park—to the surrounding Kenilworth-Parkside community. Students presented via video conference to a group which included representatives of Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the National Park Service, and the DC Office of Planning. The presentations wrapped up a semester-long project for the students, who received guidance  and mentorship in public interest design and community engagement practices from [bc]'s Washington, DC team.

Over the course of the semester, activities that informed their project included visits to the park and design activities with visitors. As part of NatureFest—a weeklong camp at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens—UVA students asked young participants to  draw maps of how they get to the park and representations of plants and animals they've encountered there, learning about where campers come from and how they interact with the park. 

Check out images from the final presentation day below!

This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

RAPIDO in Houston

With the support of a funding partnership with Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., [bc] is working to bring the RAPIDO model to Houston, working with families affected by Hurricane Harvey in collaboration with Texas Low Income Housing Information Service and Covenant Community Capital

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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] + UVA Community Design Partnership

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Supported in part by a National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant, [bc] is partnering with the University of Virginia School of Architecture to train students in the practice of community-engaged, public interest design.

15 students enrolled in the semester-long Ecological Democracy class, a graduate planning course taught by Assistant Professor Barbara Brown-Wilson, will work with [bc]'s DC team to utilize community-engaged research and design methods to address a timely equitable development challenge.  Over the semester, students will build awareness of "the roles planning and design can play in supporting socio-economic vulnerable communities to increase their own social and ecological resilience."

[bc] and UVA are working with the nonprofit organization Friends of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to develop strategies that help connect residents of the surrounding community to the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, a National Park though signage, way-finding and other physical interventions. 

In February, UVA students traveled to Washington, DC. Students, faculty, and [bc] staff visited Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens to gain insight from stakeholders, conduct a site documentation assignment, and learn about the history of the Kenilworth-Parkside neighborhood.

In March, [bc] visited the UVA campus to provide feedback on students' group presentations, which explored aspects of way-finding signage design, codes and regulations, mapping, and project coordinators. Check out our photos from these activities!

This partnership furthers [bc]'s efforts to advance the practice of public interest design through training and mentorship of designers and planners, while providing UVA students with experience learning from professionals in the field. 

This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

Lessons from the Field: Reflections on Rural Placemaking

Find our more about our Rural Placemaking work! 

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Over the past year, [bc] and the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) have had the opportunity to investigate how tools of arts and community building can be used in rural communities, funded in part by a generous Knowledge Building Grant through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

This partnership has brought resources to existing local efforts and enabled our organizations to better understand how ‘creative placemaking’ works in practice in rural communities and why it is a valuable tool for rural community development now. Through webinars, an internal working group, two pilot projects (in Kinston, North Carolina and Thomas, West Virginia) and a peer-to-peer exchange, we’ve seen the value of vivid local examples in understanding that ‘creative placemaking’ has been happening for a long time in rural communities across the country. Modest increases in resources coupled with capacity building hold vast potential for rural and tribal communities.

We've published a report, Lessons from the Field: Reflections on Rural Placemaking describing our yearlong initiative and reflecting on the last year of our work, outlining key outcomes and lessons learned valuable to the larger practice of rural creative placemaking. Read the full report here

Several resources were developed during this partnership to expand knowledge and practice of rural creative placemaking, including: 

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

 

Dallas Afterschool Access Map

Learn more about bcANALYTICS  and read the full Dallas Afterschool Access Report

There are 570,000 children aged 14 and under in Dallas County. All of these children qualify for afterschool programs. Funding, physical spaces, operations, staffing, materials and curriculum development are all needed to keep afterschool programs alive. More than 1,000 afterschool programs operate in Dallas County, each finding their own method for covering these costs and serving their students.

Dallas Afterschool has established the After the Bell Alliance to improve access to seats in afterschool programs for children across Dallas County. This partnership of community members, funders, afterschool providers, and advocates envisions that all students will have access to enriching and educational activities after they leave school each day. 

Two barriers to achieving this vision exist: costs associated with attending afterschool programs and students' physical access to program sites. Dallas Afterschool aims to increase access to free and low-cost programs for an additional 16,000 students in Dallas County. 

This report uses a multi-criteria model to analyze data within five areas: Existing Afterschool Environment, Current Neighborhood Conditions, Local School Environment, Accessibility + Proximity, and Change in Neighborhood Conditions.  10 clusters of Census tracts are identified for the After the Bell Alliance to expand afterschool programs. This approach provides an opportunity to enhance access for low-income students in some of Dallas County's least affluent neighborhoods. 

 

 

 

Casitas Los Olmos is finished!

Learn more about our Making work!

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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. 

Expanding Choice in Affordable Housing

Learn more about sustainABLEhouse, and our sAh RGV work.

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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.