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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—were selected to be included in an RFP, as part of Phase II of the initiative. View the RFP. Proposals are due on February 14th, 2024.

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 15th, 2023 MOH and the BSA released the Request for Proposals for the development of two vacant City-owned parcels of land in Dorchester (379 Geneva Avenue) and Mattapan (569 River Street) to support the experimentation with innovative models of infill housing development. Applicants are asked to propose developments that address Boston’s unmet need for “missing middle” for-sale housing (6-15 units) through the use of innovative design, construction methods, and/or materials.

Applicants can access the RFP on MOH's Request for Proposals webpage. The deadline for responses is February 14, 2024.

RFP Webpage

MOH and the BSA will host two virtual drop-in sessions for potential respondents to attend. The first will take place on Thursday, December 14, 2023, 4:00 - 6:00 PM.

Pre-register to attend: December

Pre-register to attend: January

Prior to the release of the RFP, in 2022 and 2023, the Housing Innovation Lab and the Boston Society for Architecture engaged residents in Dorchester and Mattapan to establish the Community Vision and values outlined in the RFP.

Past Meeting Recordings and Slides

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.


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



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


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.


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


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.

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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