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AIA PHILADELPHIA YOUNG ARCHITECTS FORUM: A different kind of affordable housing in North Camden

Editor's note: This is presented as part of a content partnership with the American Institute of Architects-Philadelphia's Young Architects Forum.

Name: Jeff Pastva
Age: 29
Firm / Title: Haley Donovan / Project Architect
Education: B. Arch '06 Syracuse University
Project: The Meadows at Pyne Point (441 Erie St., Camden, NJ), an $8 million affordable housing complex with sweeping views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge.

Why is your project important to the neighborhood or the city at large?
This project is a part of the North Camden Neighborhood Plan, a 2009 NJHMFA Smart Growth award winner, and becomes the first delivered component. Since the neighborhood has seen severely depressed economic activity and crippling blight, the building serves as a source of hope for many who haven’t witnessed this level of investment in decades.

What was the biggest obstacle in completing this project?
From a total project perspective, funding is always an issue in the state of the economy, but this particular project saw the requirements change during the design. In addition, other external factors led the project to scale back in size, so the original concept that was designed completely changed.

Did you have any key partners or collaborators in making this project a reality?
As architects, we acted as the point during design and construction, but couldn't have pulled this off without our client Ingerman and BCM Affordable Housing, the support of their non-profit partner Respond Inc., the community activists at Save Our Waterfront, and the City of Camden.

How do you feel like your personal stamp, or that of your firm, is placed on this project?
From our firm's perspective, we believe in rebuilding the underserved urban areas in the Northeast. From southern Maryland through northern New Jersey, central PA to Atlantic City, we’ve been fortunate enough to execute many of our designs. This is one of our truly transformative projects though, because it brings a highly designed building with modern amenities to an area of the Greater Philadelphia region in true need of affordable housing.

What is the most innovative or distinctive part of this project?
The ability to provide an energy efficiency and quality design on an extreme budget is always a distinctive part, but you can’t overlook the social benefits. It provides much needed affordable housing for the neighborhood’s elderly and special needs housing for the chronically homeless.

As the first built project of the North Camden Neighborhood Plan, it also provides hope and a rallying point for future development. Due to the successful completion of this project, Phase II is currently being designed.
AIA PHILADELPHIA was founded in 1869 and is among the oldest and most distinguished of AIA Chapters, with a long history of service to members and the public. AIA Philadelphia organizes architects in the region for the purpose of advancing their influence in shaping the built environment, and their ability to effectively practice architecture in an ever-changing society and competitive marketplace. The YOUNG ARCHITECTS FORUM provides a place for young architects to network and communicate with one another, the College of Fellows, and Associate Members regarding mentorship, leadership, and fellowship.

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