Black History Month – 2020 February

February is Black History Month and is a time to celebrate and recognize the tremendous achievements and the central role people of African descent played in U.S. history. As a MBE firm, February holds a unique significance and provides a time to reflect on some of the giants whose shoulders we stand upon. 

We asked a few team members to provide a specific quote from a Black leader that holds specific significance. 

I derive a tremendous amount of pride in developing places that everyday people can experience. I like to create beauty in everyday lives.” -Phil Freelon

Phil Freelon reminds us that we are designing spaces that will be used daily for years to come. We have a responsibility to make them full of delight and beauty, accessible to all. – Rand Lemley, Job Captain

There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.” – James Baldwin

I apply this quote to my life every day because you need to do things now to make it work for tomorrow. It is good to plan things, but make them happen requires the “now.” – Greg Mateo, Operations Manager

Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” – Booker T. Washington

I never had to work as hard as when I applied to the architecture program at Auburn University. It was a top ten program in the country and their rural studio initiative was world renowned. When I initially applied, I worked in the studio till 10:30 pm every night and got there by 7:45 am every morning; but it wasn’t enough, I wasn’t accepted. 

I spent the rest of the year in the mechanical engineering program and decided to try again at the architectural admissions process. Facing the possibility of yet another failure, I decided that I would do anything in my power to earn my spot in the program. Weekends and late nights until 4 am in the studio were expected, and all-nighters became part of the strategy for perfecting the work. Some of us cried as two or three days went by with only a few, precious hours of sleep. We all suffered collectively, but retrospectively, it was great. 

When I got my letter of acceptance, I was proud. For the first time in my life, I understood what true, hard work, really means, and how I could use it to achieve things which seemed impossibly beyond my means. When I read Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, this is what resonated with me, he understood the fact that hard work not only shapes the thing one is working on, but the person itself. – Sebastian Toro, Design Coordinator II

That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; That until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained” – Emperor Haile Selassie

As a fan of history, I’m often amazed at how common it is for people to repeat the mistakes of their forbearers.  I think this quote is a good reminder that you can literally enable liberty by just allowing people to be themselves, and you can be an amazing person if you are prepared to embrace differences. – Nick Brooks, Project Manager

It took a great deal of skill and creativity and imagination to build the kind of situation we have, and it is going to take skill and imagination and creativity to change it. We are going to have to have people as committed to doing the right thing, to inclusiveness, as we have in the past to exclusiveness.” – Whitney M Young, Jr.

Rules, codes, policies, are written by people. People, who all too often, have not experienced the conditions that those rules manifest. Architects and developer’s need to question the rules and regulations that are in place, and understand that they may not be valid solutions to the problem they seek to resolve. We have new ways to measure, seek input, and most importantly, collaborate with residents of our work, with neighbors who are impacted by our work, and with the agencies who write housing policy. As Whitney Young Jr stated in this speech in 1968, it is going to take a lot of “skill and imagination” to make our work more inclusive and more relevant than it is now, to reshape the way we build our future. – Sara Kudra, Director of Design

“I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.” — Harriet Tubman 

Harriet Tubman’s words have always had a tremendous effect on me, and I am sure many others, this quote always reminds me of the fragility of life and the little structure we have around it. Take nothing for granted, especially our right and duty to speak up when we have something to say. – Giselle Portuondo, Administrative Assistant

“Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.” – bell hooks 

Gloria Watkins, better known by as bell hooks, is an American author, professor, feminist, and social activist. Her books resonate with me because of her boldness, authentic voice, accessible language, and most importantly, the abundant love and hope she brings to complex issues at the intersection of race, gender, and economics.– Harmony Larson, Director of Communication + Culture

If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

Maya’s  comment reflects a healthy view on how one can engage in the world around them.  We are change agents at DREAM, working with the forces that are under our control and being able to distinguish those that are not; the constraints    Understanding what variables you cannot change and which ones you can make us better designers….and human. : ) – Greg Zurlo, Associate Principal, Director of Project Management

Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.” – James Baldwin

I think about this James Baldwin quote quite often as it comes up sporadically throughout my life. It resonates with me because it speaks to a shift in mentality and the power of your own perception in changing a life and a community. – Jillian Wiedenmayer, Project Architect

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” -Desmond Tutu

This quote from Desmond Tutu points to something I feel very deeply about, that we are all interconnected, and our individual actions mirror the collective energy in the world. – Greg Smith, Senior Project Manager

I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism, and that’s how I operate my life.” -Oprah Winfrey

As an african woman, my career and education has been mostly about defeating the “system” that is designed to fail us and keep us within it. I believe in excellence ,I operate that way. With Excellence I broke many barriers within the system to get to where I am today. – Rania Karamallah, Project Designer

“Character is power.” – Booker T. Washington

As a business leader, character is a paramount trait in being successful in having people follow your vision. I believe it was MLK who said never judge people by appearance but by the content of their character. – Troy Depeiza, Principal

DREAM receives JUST 2.0 Social Justice Label

October 25, 2019 –

DREAM Collaborative is the first company in Boston to receive a JUST 2.0 label, a voluntary disclosure tool that serves as a “nutrition label” for socially just and equitable organizations. The program aligns closely with DREAM’s mission and values, and reflects our commitment to supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace; nurturing a healthy culture of high trust within our firm; and fostering a working environment where all employees feel valued and have a strong sense of purpose.

The JUST platform was created by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) as an innovative way for organizations to be transparent about their operations, including how they treat their employees and what their impact is on their communities. The program requires reporting and documentation on a range of indicators, each requiring specific and measurable accountability which is ranked and published on the JUST label.

Being a JUST organization translates into many benefits for DREAM employees. Thanks to the rigorous process to receive a JUST label, we have already taken steps to improve our culture and become more inclusive for all employees.

  • We have initiated new employee benefits for 2020 including paid time off for volunteer activities and more flexible work arrangements
  • We’re reevaluated our pay policy to institute consistent pay scales and regular salary review to eliminate any pay gaps.

While we are very proud of our first JUST label, we are even more excited to see the next iteration.

Full House: A History of American Multigenerational Living

Muiltigenerational Housing since 1950

While multigenerational living is often discussed as a new trend driven by recent economic factors, its roots actually extend much farther back. In fact, for most of American history, multigenerational living has been the norm, not the exception.

Throughout the 19th century, most Americans lived in a multigenerational household, with a majority of elderly Americans living with an adult child. The main driver of this living arrangement was the country’s agrarian economy. For farmers, there was an incentive to have many children, as this meant more help around the farm. It was common for one child to remain at the farm after reaching adulthood to continue working with the anticipation of eventually inheriting it. If more than one child stayed, the land was sometimes divided between children, forming smaller farms. This formed a natural aging plan for the parents who, if they lived long enough, stayed on the farm when they retired and were cared for by their children. Overall, the multigenerational phase was a normal stage of the pre-industrial family lifecycle.

Yet, as the country developed and the population grew, land became much more expensive in the eastern United States and there were only so many times a plot of land could be subdivided. This forced subsequent generations and newly arriving immigrants to look for opportunities elsewhere. Some decided to move west, in search of cheaper land, but had to embark on journeys that were often treacherous, forcing them to leave elders at home. Others began moving to cities, where new jobs were being created in factories and other industrial settings. But urban living was expensive, so it was not always feasible to bring along elders who could not work and contribute financially. By the end of the 19th century, multi-generational households began to decline in popularity.

It was at the turn of the 20th century that the first institutional buildings were built to house the elderly that were living alone. This was mostly the poor, elderly, and mentally ill who did not have children who could take care of them. These new institutions were mostly state-run “poorhouses” that were notorious for their poor living conditions for residents housed in big, factory-like buildings.

Three-deckers offered attainable multigenerational housing for
newly arriving immigrants.

Locally, the post Civil War economy boom attracted an influx of immigrants to New England, causing the population to triple between the middle of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. This naturally caused a strain on housing, producing problems for municipalities throughout the region. Boston responded with an estimated 15,000 three-deckers being constructed between 1880 and 1930, and many other cities and towns in the region followed suit. This type of housing was popular with immigrants as it offered an affordable path to homeownership, as a nuclear family could live in one unit and rent out the other two, often renting these units to relatives. Thus, these buildings became a popular and economically viable example of multigenerational housing throughout the region.

But as this type of housing became associated with immigrants, three-deckers became a target of nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment. In Boston, zoning prevented the building of three-deckers in the affluent Downtown and Back Bay neighborhoods. And between 1910-1930, as anti-immigrant policies were enacted throughout the country, cities and towns in New England passed laws and zoning that limited the building of three-deckers, effectively freezing the area’s stock. Over the years, three-deckers have been demolished and replaced with smaller dwellings, such as single-family houses.

Nationally, the trend of separate living for elderly parents accelerated in 1935 with the introduction of the Social Security Act, which began to provide monthly payments to the elderly, allowing them to secure their own housing. This created a new market in which for-profit businesses offered elderly housing and in some cases, basic medical care. The first nursing homes were converted rooms in people’s homes, often nurses, that were rented out. But soon, buildings were specifically built and renovated for this purpose. Additionally, some elders decided to use these payments to remain in their homes, paying for nursing services when necessary.

After WWII, the popularity of multi-generational living reached its lowest historical levels and resulted in the creation of some of today’s norms. The causes for this decrease include the increasing popularity of the automobile, cheaper airfare, and introduction of Medicare, which provided seniors with health care, increased the percentage of the elderly living on their own, either at home or at an institution. Medicare made it more financially viable to live alone and better transportation made it easier for families to visit each other. Cultural trends pushed the average age of young adults leaving home consistently down throughout the middle of the 20th century. These trends continued through 1980 when only 12% of the US population lived in a multigenerational household, the lowest in history.

But since 1980, multigenerational living has become consistently more popular, with one-in-five Americans living in a multigenerational household in 2016. After decades of Americans living more apart, new factors are shifting housing back towards the historic trend.

In the fall, we will examine these factors and how they affect us as designers and developers.

Multigenerational Housing 101

Mulitgenerational Housing

Shifting demographics are changing the types of housing that are in demand. One category of housing that has become increasingly popular are types that can accommodate multiple generations.

This is the first installment of a new series on multigenerational living. Here we explore different types of multigeneration arrangements and the history of multigenerational living in the US. In future newsletters, we’ll examine how this trend is affecting the national and regional housing markets. We will seek to understand the trends that are driving its resurgence in popularity, and how it will influence housing demand moving forward.

What is Multigenerational Housing?

Multigenerational family living is defined as including two or more adult generations in one household, or including grandparents and grandchildren younger than 25.

DREAM Development’s 24 Westminster Street project is an example of specifically designed multigenerational condo units.

What are the popular types of Multigenerational Housing?

Two Houses on One Lot – Even though this setup may be more popular in rural and less populated settings, you can find two houses on a lot in urban settings. This may become more popular as political pressure mounts to change zoning laws.

Infill Developments – Especially with deep lots, there can be an opportunity to build a home over a garage or in an alley. It can be relatively easy to get a permit to build on an infill compared to other options.

2-4 Residential Units – These include duplexes, triplexes, four-plexes, or a single-family home coupled with a duplex on a lot.

Build-To-Suit – National homebuilders have begun to offer specifically designed multigenerational homes that offer two residences under one roof, with two kitchens and separately defined spaces for privacy.

Specifically Designed Condo Units – New and renovated condo buildings can be designed and constructed with multigenerational living in mind. For example, DREAM’s 24 Westminster project will have specifically designed hallways and entryways that give the flexibility for units to be organized for multigenerational living or to be sold separately to different owners.

286-290 Tremont Street

286-290 Tremont Street Front Rendering

Boston, MA –

286-290 Tremont Street, known as Parcel 12C, is located in one of the densest sections of Boston, situated between a parking garage and The Doubletree Hotel, as well as being at the convergence point of several neighborhoods, including Chinatown to the east, Bay Village to the west and the Theater District to the north.

This mixed-use infill project will be comprised of hotel and residential components. The residential component of the project will create approximately 152 new income-restricted housing units. The ground floor will include a pedestrian courtyard and a community space, which may become the location of the Chinatown Branch of the Boston Public Library.

Renderings courtesy of Stantec

DREAM Collaborative has been engaged as the architect for the residential program, including the housing units, amenity spaces, and lobby. Stantec is the design architect and architect of record on the project.

The developer, 288 Tremont Street Partners, is a collaborative entity of the Asian Community Development Corporation, Corcoran Jennison, Inc., MP Boston, and Tufts Shared Services Inc.

Client: 288 Tremont Street Partners, LLC

22-24 Magazine Street

22-24 Magazine Street Exterior

Cambridge, MA –

DREAM Collaborative worked with MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo) to provide design and construction administration services for the rehabilitation of 22-24 Magazine Street in Central Square, Cambridge. The 16,000 sf, 12-unit, four-story walk-up apartment building suffered significant fire damage in December 2017. The goal of the project was to bring the 22-24 Magazine Street building back online with enhanced, modernized units and improved common spaces. Construction was completed in the fall of 2019.

24 Magazine Street Interior Kitchen Photo
Interior living space was reconfigured to meet the demand for open living floor plans.

The initial design challenges of this project were to explore options for reducing the bedroom count per unit to 3 bedrooms, adding washer/dryers in-unit, upgrading the HVAC system to central air, and reconfiguring the floor plans to better meet today’s demand for open living floor plans. DREAM also studied the feasibility of implementing energy-saving sustainability measures, including solar PVs, enhanced stormwater management, and improved building materials.

Client: MITIMCo

75-81 Dudley Street

75 81 Front Rendering

Roxbury, MA –

75-81 Dudley Street is the sister project of 2451 Washington Street, sharing the same development and design team. The project completes the infill of the site and serves as a portal to the John Eliot Square neighborhood.

The proposed program includes 17 residential units located on the upper three floors, all of which will be affordable. The housing program provides affordable first-time homeownership opportunities and accommodates a range of family income and size.

Similar to 2451 Washington Street, 75 Dudley adopts the same brick or masonry base as its sister project, and also applies the use of fiber cement panels. To add warmth to these materials, copper colored metal panels are applied to the entry points and balconies.

A central 1,500 sf outdoor space flanked by both 75 Dudley and 2451Washington will provide a connected and landscaped open space for residents of both buildings to enjoy. This landscaped outdoor area is intended for residents to use in private or as a group, and is connected directly to the indoor community space.

Client: Madison Park Development Corporation

DREAM Recognized for Leadership in Diversity & Inclusion

July 10, 2019 – The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce honored DREAM Collaborative with the 2019 Small Business of the Year Diversity & Inclusion Award. We are very grateful for the mission-alignment and strong relationships we experience with our community of partners. Together, we are challenging conventional thinking about urban living and empowering communities to build a stronger, sustainable future.

Dixwell Plaza Redevelopment

Office Dixwell Rendering

New Haven, CT

DREAM Collaborative and Stull + Lee have been engaged to develop and test conceptual programming and planning scenarios for Dixwell Plaza, which has led to the delivery of a master plan. This redevelopment seeks to revitalize a key piece of a historic center of African-American economic, cultural, and religious life in New Haven.

Overall, the project will engage the neighborhood’s pride, history, industry, and talents to transform this historic center. Dixwell Plaza Redevelopment will support local enterprises and community needs by creating a flexible center that will create a wide job mix, from retail to highly skilled positions.

Dixwell Plaza is a 7.5 acre site that can support over 380,000 sf of development for ConnCORP, who plans to use the location as their new corporate headquarters. The Plaza will also be the home to ConnCAT, their umbrella nonprofit, who will further its mission of inspiring creativity and personal development by hosting youth and adult entrepreneurial and culinary arts programs.

Client: RJ Development + Advisors, ConnCORP, LLC

UMass Boston Bayside Development Site


Boston, MA –

DREAM Collaborative and Stantec have been engaged to provide site analysis, urban design, masterplanning, and permitting for the former Bayside Expo Center site at Columbia Point. The mixed-use site envisions residential, academic, office/lab, and retail components to create a vibrant 24/7 community. The site’s proximity to downtown Boston, readily available public transit, and nearby waterfront access combine to envision a destination where a diverse community lives, learns, and thrives.

The new planned neighborhood would consist of approximately 3.5 million sf of new mixed-use development over 20 acres. Extensive community benefits will potentially include public parking, a boardwalk with connections to the existing Harborwalk and Dorchester Shores Reservation, and 35,400 sf of hardscape to include a retail pavilion/multi-cultural center.

Client: Accordia Partners