What can I do to make my home more resilient?

We hear this question a lot these days. As Boston area residents learn more about projected sea level rise and related extreme temperatures, a natural next step is to turn to that domain we can (mostly) control:  our homes. Homes — apartments, condos, triple deckers, and the like — are the essential building blocks of our neighborhoods. And most were built decades, if not centuries, before we had inklings of climate change. What’s a forward-looking resident (renter or owner) to do?

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Our beloved BAC “Huxtable Fellow” students have been on the ground in East Boston the past four months, analyzing predictions and compiling research, listening carefully to residents and their real situations, and looking closely at the real buildings where we live.  In deep collaboration with the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) and ULI’s “TAP” process, the Huxtables created a menu of actions that regular citizens might take to make their homes more resilient, and shared these ideas during a June neighborhood meeting.

See a pdf of their presentation here:  BAC Huxtables Resiliency Workshop




PJK School Yard

Existing view of the PJKennedy school yard, as it meets the Bennington Street sidewalk, East Boston.

Existing view of the PJKennedy school yard, as it meets the Bennington Street sidewalk, East Boston.

Over the past year, the CDRC has been organizing a big and growing group of collaborators to help the PJKennedy Elementary School in East Boston create a new vision for the asphalt that surrounds their school building.  The PJK is a Boston Public School, serving approximately 300 students from pre-K to 5th grade, most of whom live in the surrounding neighborhood.  This asphalt is at once playgound, gymnasium, auditorium, science classroom, parking lot, bus dropoff and parent waiting area,  as well as a neighborhood gathering space in all seasons.  In the future the PJK schoolyard will still do all that — but in much more appropriate ways.  Gardens are coming, too.  The PJK is a Level 1 school, among the top academic performers in Massachusetts.  The area outside the school should reflect and support the school’s wonderful internal activity.

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In fall 2012 and spring 2013, Boston Architectural College students met with students, parents, and administrators as they analyzed existing conditions and proposed a variety of ideas for the overall area.  They then “zoomed in” to design prototype benches, planters, and a big custom sign for the parents’ pickup/dropoff area, at historic front of the school.  The CDRC hopes to construct the first prototypes this summer.

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entrance cover

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Meanwhile, this work was noticed by the Boston chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, who selected the PJK as the focus “ACE Mentor Legacy” project for the upcoming ASLA national meeting, to be held in Boston in November 2013.  There will be lots happening this upcoming academic year!  Find out the latest here.

June 2013: Preliminary site plan by BSLA volunteers to guide preparations for the fall ACE Mentor Legacy Project. Picking up on the overall organization suggested by the Boston Architectural College students, this plan features basketball and soccer fields, several age- and ability-appropriate play areas, and new planted mounds and terraces.