The decade-long redevelopment of Old Colony, originally built in 1940, involves one of the country’s oldest federal public housing developments. It was the single largest property in the Boston Housing Authority’s portfolio and the most distressed with ageing infrastructure and high energy consumption. The sustainable multi-building campus design is the result of broad stakeholder participation, which reimagined the historic public housing community and laid out a strategic vision to knit Old Colony back into the fabric of the South Boston neighborhood. The original master plan by NBBJ involved the demolition of seven dilapidated buildings and the design and construction of numerous new buildings to create an entirely affordable housing community. Existing superblocks have been broken down and replaced with new neighborhood scale blocks to incorporate pedestrian-friendly streets and open spaces with view corridors to the adjacent park and waterfront. The firm designed a mix of midrise and townhome buildings with diverse architecture and heights, responsive to the surrounding context.
Phase One, completed in 2011, provides 116 LEED Platinum Certified affordable units and a 10,000 square foot LEED Gold Certified Tierney Learning Center, which promotes education, wellness, and community building among Old Colony residents and the entire South Boston neighborhood. Completed in 2015, Phase Two was awarded a HOPE VI grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and provides an additional 169 units. Phase Three represents a $150 million investment and includes three subphases. Having replaced 250 existing units, Phase Three A offers 135 new apartments and Phase Three B offers 115. Phase Three C will create 55 Passive House Certified units for seniors and people with disabilities, adding to the City’s affordable housing stock. The redevelopment was voted Best Urban Project in the nation by Affordable Housing Finance.