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A Proposal to Redevelop a Library Site Wins 2011 Competition

The first-place Dot Corner team.

A proposal to create new affordable housing, a redesigned library, and a multiuse learning center on the site of the Fields Corner Branch Library in the Dorchester section of Boston won first place in the annual Greater Boston Affordable Housing Development Competition.

The first-place Dot Corner development team made up of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University collaborated on the proposal with the Vietnamese American Initiative for Development in Dorchester. The team received the award May 4 at an award ceremony at Shepley Bullfinch in Boston.

The Dot Corner team proposed redeveloping the Fields Corner library site to create 24 affordable family and senior apartments, a multi-use learning center, and a new library.

Blake Auchincloss of ICON architecture, inc., was the team's design mentor; Sarah Lamitie of Boston Private Bank & Trust Company was the financial mentor; and James Buckley of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the faculty advisor.

Architectural rendering of the first-place Dot Corner proposal.

Receiving the second-place award was Firehouse Commons, a proposal to create 26 new affordable apartments, an updated community center, and retail/restaurant space on a site in East Somerville, Massachusetts. The Firehouse team collaborated with the Somerville Community Corporation to develop the proposal.

The third-place winner was Linkage at Brighton, a proposal to expand a senior housing complex operated by Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly in Brighton.

The first place winner received a $10,000 prize, the second place winner $6,000, and the third place winner $2,500. Each award is shared equally between the student team and the developer.

The keynote speaker for this year's awards ceremony was Lisa Alberghini, president of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs, an affordable-housing development organization sponsored by the Archdiocese of Boston. In her remarks to the students, Ms. Alberghini said it's an exciting time to be involved with affordable housing. She said the industry is evolving in ways that are certain to provide new inspiration to the next generation of developers. She urged the students to stay involved, recognize the possibilities and importance of their work, and remain open to different paths to realizing their goals.

Lisa Alberghini.

She told the students to always keep in mind the people served by the affordable housing they will build. She told the story of an 88-year-old woman who said after winning an affordable apartment lottery in Lowell: "This is the first new thing I have ever had."

"It's really about the human face of what you are doing," Ms. Alberghini said. "Their lives are in your hands. This is what it is all about."

Students from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of technology, Boston Architectural College, and Tufts University participated on eight teams in the 2011 competition. In addition to the winners, the 2011 proposals included Tetrault Terrace, a 16-unit affordable-housing development in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence; Cortes Street, the redesign and expansion of single-room-occupancy housing in the Bay Village neighborhood of Boston; Cooper Crossing, a 165-unit, mixed-income development on a vacant lot in Waltham, Massachusetts; Hudson Court, a mixed-use, mixed-income, multi-generational housing development for Boston's Chinatown; and Jefferson Park, the rebuilding of an affordable development in North Cambridge to create 117 apartments and community, office, and retail space.

Financial mentor Wesley Blair III, of member Brookline Bank, and M. Susan Elliott, executive vice president/chief business officer at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, at the awards ceremony.

The annual Affordable Housing Development Competition brings together Boston area graduate students with nonprofit developers to create proposals for the development of affordable housing on available neighborhood sites. This year's competition was sponsored by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, the Greater Boston Society of Architects/AIA; Kevin P. Martin & Associates, P.C.; Citizens' Housing and Planning Association; ICON architecture, inc.; and Shepley Bulfinch.

See the 10th anniversary video

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