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Co-Creating Boston's Future-Decker

We are inviting participants to help develop new models of multifamily housing by drawing inspiration from the iconic three-decker.

About the competition

Co-Creating the Future-Decker is a two-phased competition where individuals and teams are invited to ideate and propose new housing that can be built on small sites.

competition roadmap

 

Since the launch of Phase I in 2021, two city-owned sites—379 Geneva Ave in Dorchester and 569 River Street in Mattapan—have been selected for a forthcoming RFP. Tell us what type of housing you'd like to see developed on these parcels by taking this brief survey.

The competition, hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH), the Housing Innovation Lab (Housing iLab) and the Boston Society for Architecture (BSA), invites participants to address how housing at a middle-scale can help bridge a gap between small- and large-scale developments in the city by drawing inspiration from triple- or three-deckers.

Where We Are

On November 9th, 2022 the MOH, the Housing iLab, and the Boston Society of Architecture hosted a virtual Community Meeting to discuss Boston’s Future-Decker Initiative. This kick-off meeting marked the launch of the second phase of the Future-Decker Design Competition, as two city-owned sites have been selected for a forthcoming RFP:

View the meeting recording

View the slides

PHASE II: REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP)

We are currently gathering feedback on plans for the sites. In addition to the feedback and outcomes from Phase I, the feedback for this second phase will help inform the forthcoming Request for Proposals, which will be released in the Spring of 2023. Click here to complete the survey and share your thoughts!

How we got here

By first taking a look at the iconic triple-decker, MOH, the Housing iLab, and the BSA began a collaborative research effort to better understand the multifamily housing landscape in Boston.

Mostly built between the 1880s and 1930s, the triple- or three-decker provided affordable opportunities for many immigrant, working and middle class families in Boston. Today, these three wooden stacked apartment buildings are among the most expensive and desired housing in the city.

In 2020, the BSA and the Housing iLab led a collaborative exploration with residents, students, architects, artists, and many others to learn about the role that triple-deckers have played in the lives of Boston residents. In addition to hearing about residents’ experiences with triple-deckers in Boston, we  asked all who participated to begin to imagine the future of this building type.

View the research findings

Phase I: Request for Ideas (RFI)

In May of 2021, the BSA and Housing iLab released the “Co-Creating Boston’s Future-Decker” Request for Ideas (RFI), inviting residents, advocates, designers, and all who are interested to share ideas for multifamily housing in Boston’s neighborhoods.

The RFI included 13 small sites across 4 different neighborhoods (Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park), and the ideas from this phase helped inform Phase II of the competition. The RFI submissions are showcased virtually in the form of a storymap.

Read the responses and learn more about the shared themes and barriers highlighted throughout.

Process

Our hypothesis? By inviting a variety of participants to submit innovative ideas and proposals, we can collectively introduce new, replicable housing models in Boston.  

We know that key barriers, such as construction costs and land costs, slow down or even prevent the creation of middle-scale housing, typically ranging from 3-15 units. Recent data shows that there is growing demand for multifamily housing. But, the cost is far too high for renters and homeowners to be able to afford. We want to see if there is an interest to help build smaller and middle scale housing, such as the Future-Decker, in the City.

 

Future Decker Graphic 2

 

THE PROCESS

This year’s competition will be divided into two key phases:

1. REQUEST FOR IDEAS (RFI):

Individuals and teams of all backgrounds are invited to share their ideas for housing types that would fit within the context of Boston’s neighborhoods.

2. REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP):

Established development teams submit proposals that can be replicated across the final chosen sites. The winning team will have the opportunity to build a pilot project on City-owned sites.  

Get involved

Join our mailing list to stay up to date on the Future-Decker competition.

Frequently asked questions

Why a Request for Ideas (RFI)?

An RFI is a document that solicits ideas of participants of all backgrounds, to inform the City’s approach for overcoming housing development challenges. It offers an opportunity to reimagine how we conduct community engagement, by first inviting residents, architects, developers and many others to help shape a housing development process.

Is there a winner for the RFI?

While there is not a winner for the RFI, participants are given an opportunity to begin to form development teams that can enter the second phase of the competition.

What is the difference between an RFI and an RFP?

A Request for Ideas is a way for us to better shape the guidelines that would eventually be included in a Request for Proposals for a yet-to-be-selected city-owned site. The RFI submissions are showcased both virtually and in-person, giving the opportunity for us to receive feedback on submissions to better align the RFP with both the City’s goals and community aspirations.

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