Left at the surface level, the best of architectural intentions can miss the mark with heavy impacts for the most vulnerable of stakeholders. This is particularly true in the case of a project with as complex of a history as Lineage at North Patrick Street in Alexandria, Virginia. Hired by the Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority (ARHA), KTGY’s thoughtful and steadily engaged design approach through the redevelopment of Lineage resulted in a vibrant and affordable rental community that more than tripled the number of units from 15 to 52 while complementing the neighboring architecture.
Developed in 1942 by the United States Housing Authority, the site held one of three emergency war housing projects located in the Parker-Gray Historic District of Alexandria constructed to house Black-American defense workers and their families during World War II. The 15 two-story precast modernist units, spread across four buildings on a 0.71-acre lot, were later sold to ARHA and transitioned to affordable housing, functioning as such from 1953-2018. Concerns about the condition of the structures, which were never intended to serve as permanent housing, led ARHA to choose to redevelop the site. From the beginning, one of the biggest hurdles for the development of Lineage was establishing a consensus between the many stakeholders involved. While historic preservation advocates sought to maintain the original buildings, ultimately, the buildings could no longer be reasonably brought up to code. Meanwhile, the local housing authority looked to create more affordable housing units in the area to sustain a critical mass of social and support networks in alignment with the Braddock East Master Plan (BEMP). The BEMP defined the density of the site at a maximum FAR (Floor Area Ratio) of 2.0; which allows for a two-story building to utilize the entire lot, or a four-story building to occupy half of the lot.
KTGY was hired by AHRA in 2014, collaborated closely with the client, neighborhood groups, the historical society and the city of Alexandria to bring the many valued perspectives together. KTGY leveraged the maximum FAR to create the four-story design of Lineage that met the goal of integrating the existing 15 households into a larger community of families with varying income levels and creating an inclusive neighborhood. Located within a half-mile of the Braddock Road Metrorail station, residents have better access to transportation infrastructure, which can potentially decrease negative impacts of vehicular traffic.
Lineage sits within a 40-block historic district consisting of over 200 units of public housing, commercial buildings, townhomes and rowhouses. The site is more immediately surrounded by residential two- and three-story townhomes, with Charles Houston Recreational Center on the north end and two historic buildings at the northeast corner. This includes the Alexandria Black History Museum and the Watson Reading Room, a research repository for African-American culture and history.
To create cohesion and integrate the new Lineage with the neighborhood, KTGY worked closely with city staff to develop the project size, massing, height and architectural character and achieve compatibility with the historic Parker-Gray District. The building is designed in an urban and transitional style, with clean lines and simple geometry, using materials compatible with historic buildings and contemporary detailing in the steel canopies and railings consistent with the look and feel of nearby multifamily housing. Lineage complies with the fundamental intent and height envisioned by the Braddock East Master Plan (BEMP) by providing shoulders at the Wythe, Pendleton and Patrick Street façade of the building; dropping the height from four to three stories honoring adjacent smaller-scale buildings. Single-story height pergolas at Wythe Street and Pendleton Street further serve to provide a connection to the Watson Reading Room and adjacent townhomes.
The 52 residential units sit atop below-grade parking consisting of 32 spaces, maximizing efficiency of the site and allowing the inclusion of community-oriented spaces. Prominent gathering areas at all entrances include an expansive lawn at the south end of the parcel providing a safe area for children and families. Lineage serves residents earning between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income. Six units are subsidized by an Annual Contributions Contract (ACC) with HUD and are constructed in conformance with HUD regulations interpreting accessibility requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This beautifully designed, inclusive affordable housing development welcomed residents in late 2020.
Owner | Developer: Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority
Architect: KTGY Architecture + Planning
General Contractor: Carlson Construction
Landscape Architect | Civil: Walter L. Phillips, Inc.
Structural: Alliance Engineers
Mechanical | Electrical | Plumbing: SSA Engineering, LLC
Photographer: John Cole Photography
Affordable Family Apartments
Density: 74.7 du/ac
Unit Plan Sizes: 534 – 1,204 sq. ft.
Number of Units: 52 du
Site Area: 0.71 ac
Number of Stories: 4
Parking: 32 spaces (0.62 sp./unit)
Construction Type: 5A over 1A