| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Development News

PHA receives American Institute of Architects award for sustainable housing project

When the Philadelphia Housing Authority created the Lucien E. Blackwell housing plan that would see the demolition of the Mill Creek Housing Development in 2000, they knew they couldn't stop with just a few buildings. Growing up in the Mill Creek neighborhood as a kid, architect Michael Johns knew that certain blocks in the distressed neighborhood could help bring the new Mill Creek back stronger. But after adding over 700 housing units and an assisted living facility, there was not enough left to save the most distressed block in the neighborhood, the 800 block of Markoe Street.

Johns, who acts as PHA's General Manager of Community Development and Design, and his colleagues had a plan. They would host a design competition while the plan waited for funding. PHA chose Jibe Design, a small Center City firm. Funding finally became available and the project began construction earlier this month. This week, the American Institute for Architecture acknowledged the project with one of 16 national awards for design excellence.

"So often with (this type of) housing, there is a challenge to get something that is modern and sustainable and cost-effective," says Johns. "And we didn't want to create something that, in ten years looked like bell bottoms and a tie-dye shirt. We needed something that would last."

What they got was a proposal for 17 rehabs and six new constructions, all LEED Platinum. This is no ordinary public housing. Exposed brick, reclaimed wood beams and modern amenities finally give Markoe Street the renovation that began here 10 years ago. As for Johns and his team, the project was worth the wait.

"What this award shows is, at the base level, there are folks at the Housing Authority that are committed to changing neighborhoods and this award really draws attention to that effort," says Johns.

Source: Michael Johns, Philadelphia Housing Authority
Writer: John Steele
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts