Housing Awards from HUD and the AIA
by Brian Libby
Residents of Congo Street in Dallas, Texas, loved their tight-knit community of homeowners and long-term tenants. By 2008, however, the neighborhood's modest, century-old houses had fallen into disrepair.
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The local firm buildingcommunityWorkshop worked with five homeowners to develop a unique plan for renovating their homes without displacing anyone from the neighborhood during the process — and while also reaching for LEED Platinum.
The Congo Street Green Initiative was one of four projects recognized in the 2010 AIA/ HUD Secretary Awards, given by the American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Recognized in the category of "community-informed design," the Congo Street project was a collaboration among the five homeowners and bcWorkshop, a nonprofit firm that seeks to bring professional "design thinking" to people in impoverished areas.
Located just two miles from Dallas's city center and just blocks from the State Fair grounds and historic Cotton Bowl stadium, Congo Street reflects an earlier time of social and economic segregation. Long a African-American neighborhood, many of its pre-1910 homes — averaging 600 square feet (56 square meters) — had been occupied by the same families for generations, mostly as renters.
The street's longtime landlord deeded the properties on the north side to residents in 1993, but residents had deferred any repair plans that would displace them.
Central to the strategy developed with bcWorkshop was the "Holding House," a temporary structure built to house each family during the work on its home.
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