The Make It Right foundation, which was co-founded by actor Brad Pitt and architect William McDonough to help those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, has recently partnered with BNIM Architects to provide affordable housing to the less-fortunate residents of Kansas City, Missouri. Late last year they unveiled their latest project, the transformation of the Bancroft Elementary School in Kansas City into a LEED Platinum, affordable housing development, which includes a number of eco friendly and sustainable features.
The Bancroft School Apartments, as the project is called, is located in the Manheim Park neighborhood of Kansas City and offers 50 rental apartments, which can house around 150 residents. The housing complex also includes a number of other facilities and services, such as medical center, a gym, and auditorium as well as job training facilities. They also built a number of separate new town homes around the school’s perimeter to provide additional housing. The foundation and architects worked closely with the residents of the neighborhood in order to provide all the features and amnesties that the future occupants have listed as their main priorities. The housing units will be made available to youth transitioning out of foster care, veterans and low-income families.
To make the LEED Platinum certification possible, the Bancroft School Apartments building was equipped with a 75-kilowatt rooftop mounted solar array, which satisfies a large percentage of the building’s energy needs. To regulate and reduce energy consumption, they also installed occupancy sensors. The units were also fitted with Cradle-to-Cradle flooring systems, and energy-efficient windows. All the utility cost savings will, of course, be passed down to the future residents of the complex. Since the Bancroft Elementary School has existed since 1904 the architects were careful to preserve its historic features, such as leaving the large classroom windows in place to create open and light-filled living spaces. They’ve also left most of the existing trim intact, and tried to restore the original oak floors as much as possible.
The turning of the schoolhouse into affordable housing is part of larger efforts to help the residents of the area reclaim their neighborhood. The Bancroft School Apartments complex has already created new jobs and led to reductions in crime in the area. The additional resources the building offers, such as the job training facilities, is made available to all 30,000 residents of the neighborhood. The Make It Right foundation is hopeful that this project will help lead to other humanitarian and redevelopment projects in the area. One of the keys to the success of this redevelopment project has been community-wide involvement, which should be adopted by other communities around the country and the world.