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Congo Street Green Initiative


Congo Street Green Initiative

>> (The CONGO STREET GREEN INITIATIVE is an effort to restore and/or reconstruct 6 owner-occupied houses along Congo Street in the East Dallas/Fair Park neighborhood of Jubilee Park.) <<

Project Type:
1) architecture
2) other- community informed design

Our thinking methodologies throughout our design and building practices have created and implemented new delivery methods for sustainable and healthy homes for underserved communities, which have been proven successful by the Congo Street Green Initiative.

Project Mission/Goal:
1) improve the human spirit
2) increase awareness of the environment and/or address climate change
3) respond to our growing need for clean water, power, shelter, healthcare, education

Project Description: (Please enter about 3 paragraphs or 500 words, whichever is less)
The bcWORKSHOP has been able to utilize innovative design thinking methodologies through the Congo Street Green Initiative to create and implement new delivery methods for sustainable homes for underserved communities. The Congo Street Green Initiative is an effort to empower 5 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 600sf, is a remnant of a socially & economically segregated time. Built before 1910, this small community of dwellings fell into disrepair with little attention despite being located two miles from our city center and three blocks from our State Fair. Many of those who live there now are the children and grandchildren of former renters, and witness to multiple generations of its tight-knit community.

The process of restoring structural integrity to the street developed out of a desire to preserve the community and to respect the economic options available to the residents as homeowners. With a common desire to remain on the street despite the urgent need to repair their homes, residents were hesitant to move forward with any plans that would displace them, even temporarily. The challenge was how to redevelop without relying upon relocation or incurring steep financial burden. We began by exploring alternative solutions with the residents. Through neighborhood meetings we developed a process, starting with the idea to build a new residence on the street that would serve as a temporary home for each family during the evaluation and renovation/rebuilding of their home. The residents named this temporary house their “Holding House.”

Prior revitalization efforts have taken the approach of slum clearance or urban infill. With consequences of gentrification and a lack of comprehensive neighborhood development, these approaches devalue and compromise both the current and future state of a community’s social and built infrastructure. By addressing the basic issues of displacement through the application of a Holding House, residents are able to remain in their neighborhood during major repairs or replacement of their home. While remaining in the Holding House, each new home design is created through a direct collaboration with the bcWORKSHOP and the residents, ensuring all their unique needs are met within US Green Building Council REGREEN or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes standards while preserving the culture of their neighborhood. This approach retains social cohesion while making the most use of existing physical infrastructure and serves as a model for sustainable projects for all communities.

Links and Captions:

© Photographer: Noe Medrano & buildingcommunity WORKSHOP
Vernessia Garrett's new home she lives in with her family. Completed in summer 2009.
CC: License

© Photographer: Noe Medrano & buildingcommunity WORKSHOP
Pat & Earnest Garrett's new home. Completed in summer 2009.
CC: License

© Photographer: Noe Medrano & buildingcommunity WORKSHOP
Ms. Frankie Boulden's new home, built with restored materials and LEED for Homes Platinum certified. Completed in winter 2008.
CC: License

© Photographer: Noe Medrano & buildingcommunity WORKSHOP
The Holding House, achieved LEED for Homes Gold certification.
CC: License

© Photographer: Noe Medrano & buildingcommunity WORKSHOP
Mr. Fred Bowie's new home, built with materials restored from his original home. Completed in spring 2010.
CC: License

Congo Street perspective
CC: License

Congo Street before revitalization efforts
CC: License

Project Details:
Project Location:Dallas, TX
Date(s): Summer 2001 to Fall 2010
Project Phase: Finalization in construction
Client: Congo Street Residents
User Client: Congo Street Residents
Description and Number of Beneficiaries/Users: Residents of Congo Street are the children and grandchildren of former renters, and witness to multiple generations of a tight-knit community built before 1910. The six resident families in partnership with the Congo Street Green Initiative are Mr. Fred Bowie, Ms. Ella Mae & Vivian Garrett, Frankie & Erica Boulden, Pat & Earnest Garrett, and Vernessia Garrett.
Major Funding: The Meadows Foundation, The Real Estate Council, Individual Donor, Citi Foundation, City of Dallas
Concept/Lead Architect(s)/Designer(s): Congo Street Residents, Brent Brown, Benje Feehan
Project Architect(s)/Designer(s): Congo Street Residents, Brent Brown, Benje Feehan
Structural Engineers: GSEI, TMBP|CLICK & Associates
Electrical/Mechanical Engineers: N/A
Contractor/Manufacturer: buildingcommunity WORKSHOP
Additional Consultants: Henley Johnston and Associates, Geotech Engineering
Total Cost/Cost per Unit:$50,000 per home


4537 Congo Street
Dallas, Texas
United States


Competition Category Entered

Competition Details

The competition entry ID for this project is 7874.

Project Details

NAME: Congo Street Green Initiative
PROJECT LEAD: Benje Feehan
LOCATION: 4537 Congo Street, Dallas, Texas, United States
START DATE: April 01, 2008
CURRENT PHASE: In construction
COST: $350000 USD (Estimated)
SIZE: 750 sq. ft
PROJECT TYPE: Residential - Single Family
ARCHITECT: Brent Brown
BENEFICIARIES: By fall 2010, project completion will result in the restoration and/or reconstruction of 6 owner-occupied homes along Congo Street in the East Dallas/Fair Park neighborhood of Jubilee Park, directly impacting about 25 people. The hope is to progress pubic policy to advance developments locally, throughout the state, and nationally, to include the Holding House methodology as a socially responsible practice to ensure residents are not displaced, burdened financially, and exposed to disrupted community cohesion during the construction of their new homes.


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