By BC Workshop with assistance from Michael Friebele, Assoc. AIA
The Congo Street Green Initiative isan effort to empower five single-family homeowners through design while revitalizing a forgotten street in Dallas. Congo Street, with a density of 26 units per acre and houses averaging 600 square feet, is a remnant of a socially and economically segregated time. Built before 1920, this small community of dwellings fell into disrepair and received little attention despite being located two miles from the Dallas city center and three blocks from the Texas State Fair. Many of those who live there now are the children and grandchildren of former renters and witness to multiple generations of this tight-knit community. The project has been shaped through deliberate interaction and friendships with residents, stakeholders, and partners, culminating in a collaborative design and redevelopment effort that is now in its third phase of work:
A transitional home, the Holding House, was built on the street to house existing residents preventing displacement during construction. Each family moved into the Holding House, providing them the opportunity to work closely with bcWORKSHOP while redesigning and rebuilding their home. All
homes meet U.S. Green Building Council LEED for Homes at Gold or Platinum levels and are designed to contribute to the social enrichment and livelihood of the street through features such as generous front porches and shared outdoor spaces.
Adding sustainable systems to the new homes such as solar power and solar thermal enabled residents to take advantage of alternative energy sources and further reduce monthly utility costs. An energy education program is paired with the new systems to inform residents on how to use less
energy more efficiently.
The green infrastructure, or “Green Street,” phase is currently under way to rebuild the existing street. The design incorporates integrated storm water management, detention and biofiltration while also strengthening social spaces for residents to live and play. By increasing community participation and leadership, the Congo Street Initiative demonstrates an approach to maximizing community investment by challenging accepted practices of urban revitalization. The initiative’s success has spurred additional development by other groups. Currently, 12 rental units on the south side of the street are also being renovated and 24 senior housing units will be built adjacent to Congo Street this fall.
Honors: 2008 Dallas AIA Excellence in Community Design
2008 Dallas AIA Excellence in Sustainable Design
2010 Dallas AIA Excellence in Community Design
2010 Dallas AIA Excellence in Sustainable Design
2010 AIA/HUD Secretary’s Award for Community-Informed Design
2011 National SEED Winner