November 17, 2016 –
DREAM Collaborative was recently featured in The Bay State Banner.
DREAMing Up Success
Written by Karen Morales
A 120,000 square foot, multi-use building with certified LEED features and various community amenities will open in Dorchester’s Four Corners neighborhood, if all goes as planned for DREAM Collaborative, a minority-owned architectural firm. The project, still in its design development phase, is one of many DREAM Collaborative’s urban development designs intended to revitalize neighborhoods.
While the term “revitalization” can carry loaded connotations, Gregory Minott and Troy Depeiza, co-founders of the firm, strive to bring something of value to surrounding communities with every project. Whether it’s their interior fit-out for the Whittier Street Health Center that contains a fitness facility and medical lab in Roxbury, or their very first client, a renovation of a church in Rhode Island, their work is mission-driven.
“We wanted to have a transformative impact on the neighborhoods we work in,” said Minott.
In 2008, Minott and Depeiza worked at Boston-based firm Elkus Manfredi Architects and entered a design competition together to re-imagine and redevelop Dudley Square.
The competition was hosted by the Boston Society of Architects as part of that year’s public programming for the American Institute of Architects national convention in Boston. The program invited architects to create a design strategy to fill in a newly vacant space in the Roxbury area.
Minott and Depeiza submitted a winning design, recognized by the City of Boston and the Boston Planning and Development Agency. “That really thrust us into the spotlight and gave us the confidence to move forward,” said Minott. “A lot of people knew our names in that neighborhood.”
Minott and Depeiza worked well together and decided to keep the momentum going by starting their own business. “Meeting Greg was complete like-mindedness, and it was the right time,” said Depeiza.
“Most people who come to this country are entrepreneurial-minded,” said Depeiza. “You need to start somewhere but you’re always looking to establish your own business.” Minott is originally from Jamaica and Depeiza from Barbados.
The duo started DREAM Collaborative from home, building a client list using connections from the competition.
“We began targeting nonprofits and private developers in that [Roxbury] area who knew we had credibility in the city,” said Minott.
Minott and Depeiza have eight employees, including interns. As a certified Minority and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise,”we’re very focused on hiring minorities and women and ensuring that they have prominent positions within the firm,” said Minott. “Not only are we innovative with our building designs, but the way we work too.”
The firm has worked with 19 clients so far, according to a list on their website. Their portfolio includes a wide range of clients and projects from Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation to Northeastern University, and “from a 13 unit building to a 300 unit building,” said Depeiza.
When designing a project, the firm engages with the needs and concerns of the surrounding neighborhood. “It’s our priority to go to community members to learn what their goals are for their community,” said Minott.
“And make sure that the development is good for not only new residents but the existing residents,” said Depeiza.
A dream project
The proposed 120,000 square foot building on 260 Washington St., in Dorchester is expected to impact the neighborhood in a number of ways. DREAM Collaborative describes the building as a, “low operating cost, energy-positive, and environmentally sustainable business incubator coworking and event space with a restaurant, cafe, ground floor food co-op and plans for an urban garden.” The performance space is expected to seat 300 – 500 people and will feature a flexible design to accommodate a wide range of events.
The project is designed for LEED Platinum with renewable energy features. Just as important as sustainable energy is resiliency planning, in light of predicted rise of sea levels in Boston.
“It will be a place in case of emergency, that will be a haven for the neighborhood,” said Minott.
Backup systems for water and electricity will be placed on top of building, as opposed to the basement, and storm water management will be included in the plans. The firm is working with Dorchester-based Sustainability Guild International to implement these innovative green strategies.
“It’s more than just a LEED project,” said Minott. “It’s really going to be a catalyst in that neighborhood for that to be the new normal.”
In terms of exterior design, “The whole image of the building is innovative,” said Minott. “There can sometimes be a stigma of what a building in a neighborhood should look like.”
“This is not that,” said Depeiza.
Other projects in the works for DREAM Collaborative is an affordable senior housing building with Hearth Inc., and the renovation of the Grove Hall Library into the new Freedom House headquarters, a college preparatory program.
Currently, the firm is located on Huntington Avenue, across from the Christian Science Plaza. Minott and Depeiza said they are looking for more staff to join their team, as they are growing and taking on more and bigger clients.
Check out the full article online here.
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Somerville, MA –
Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) is a nonprofit developer, owner, and operator of nearly 9,000 affordable homes in 9 states and the District of Columbia. POAH’s mission is to preserve, create and sustain affordable, healthy homes that support economic security and access to opportunity for all. DREAM Collaborative has been engaged by POAH to provide full architectural design, community engagement, and construction administration services for a 7-story building with a 2-story podium and 5-story wood-framed construction above housing approximately 78 residential units with parking below. This project is part of a larger masterplan for the redevelopment of the Clarendon Hill Apartments site.
Boston, MA –
Millennium Partners was selected by the City of Boston to develop the site of the former Winthrop Square Garage. Millennium’s $1.3 billion investment would create a 702-foot tower including 750,000 sf of office space and 500 residential units atop a multi-story “Great Hall” podium. The Great Hall will serve as a publicly accessible central thoroughfare and will be used for a variety of educational, civic, performance and cultural experiences. Surrounded by meetings space and restaurant/retail space, the Great Hall will feature a 350-person assembly space. The project also features five levels of underground parking for 550 vehicles.
In collaboration with the Asian Community Development Corp, the development includes a 115,000 sf of affordable housing component which could be built in Chinatown.
Handel Architects is the Architect of Record. DREAM Collaborative has been engaged as collaborating architect with a focus on the design of the Great Hall, as well as additional elements of project.
Some clients have already made the transition to BIM technology for coordination of design and project delivery. Others are still undecided. Here is a brief introduction to BIM.
What is BIM anyway?
BIM, or Building Information Modeling, is a way of designing and documenting a project in a holistic and inherently collaborative, coordinated way. When it comes to BIM, everything starts with a 3D digital model of the building created in a virtual modeling application, such as Revit. This model, however, is much more than pure geometry; a true BIM model consists of the virtual equivalents of the real components of the building as designed, including floors, walls, doors, windows, ducts, etc. These elements have all the characteristics – both physical and logical – of their real counterparts. This digital prototype allows us to simulate the building and understand its behavior in a computer environment long before construction begins. As more information is added to the model, the more useful the BIM capabilities become.
What are the advantages of BIM & Revit?
With Revit, design and construction documents are all linked because they are drawn from the same virtual model therefore a single change made to the model will be effective across floor plans, sections, elevations, and details without any additional coordination. Revit is rapidly replacing AutoCAD throughout the architecture, engineering, and construction industry because insights gained from BIM allow project teams to predict and analyze costs and energy usage long before ground is ever broken. When it’s done right, BIM saves time, reduce costly errors, and allows for much more accurate cost estimating. BIM can be a very useful tool for sustainable design and energy modeling. It also plays an integral role in IPD, or Integrated Project Delivery, in which the architect, consultants, and the contractor share information in close to real time.
Why should a building owner considered using LEED strategies in their next project?
Lifecycle evaluations of LEED certified buildings show that the upfront costs of sustainable building methods are quickly offset by the reduced energy and water used to operate a building. As sustainable technology becomes more popular and more frequently used, the upfront costs are lowered. It is now common for the upfront costs of sustainable systems to be less expensive then the non-sustainable options.
Isn’t it more expensive?
LEED certified buildings cost less to operate, they reduce the energy and water utilities bills by up to 40%. They may also qualify for tax rebates and zoning allowances, retain a higher property value, and they typically can be sold and/or leased at a higher rate.
How does a LEED certified building benefit its inhabitants and the surrounding communities?
For building inhabitants, improved indoor air quality and healthier work or living environments promote higher productivity and improved occupant comfort. Surrounding communities benefit as well since LEED encourages sustainable site selection, meaning that instead of building on an undeveloped parcel we reuse/restore previously developed sites. Other strategies include building in urban areas where alternative transport is easily accessible, reducing heat island effect with sustainable material choices and creating higher density buildings which allow for a bigger percentage of public landscapes.
Can my building be LEED certified?
Any building can be evaluated by a LEED accredited professional to see if the building currently qualifies or if it will need to be renovated in order to become LEED certified. Both new and existing buildings can become LEED certified. You can contact DREAM to see how your building can qualify.
Developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and unveiled in March 2000, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building certification system has singled out commercial, institutional, and residential projects noteworthy for their stellar environmental and health performance in both the United States and abroad. Since 2007, the City of Boston has required that all large-scale projects (Articles 80, 37) meet the USGBC’s LEED certification standards. Boston was the first city in the nation to implement this standard.
Dorchester, MA –
Hearth Inc. is one of Boston’s foremost operators of affordable supportive housing for at-risk elders. The City of Boston designated Hearth Inc. as the developer of 16 Ronald Street (former home to the Ronald Gibson School), which is located just steps from the MBTA Fairmont/Indigo Commuter Rail line. The proposed senior housing development is a four-level, wood frame construction building that will be known as Hearth at Four Corners and will provide 54 affordable, one-bedroom apartments and 2 studio apartments with an array of capital facilities and resident services designed to enable Boston’s elders to maintain an independent lifestyle as they age in place. Designed to meet LEED standards.
Roxbury, MA –
DREAM Collaborative has partnered with Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation to develop a new three-story 17,100 sf mixed-use commercial building to knit together the amenities surrounding the Dudley Miller Park site and engage with the Dudley corridor neighborhood. The design provides flexible interior programming for multiple mission-driven office tenants, street level retail space intended for a sit-down restaurant or cafe, surface parking, and options for connecting the new building to The Food Project* greenhouses adjacent at the rear of the site.
A photovoltaic array is an important part of the building’s architectural expression and contributes to the project goal of LEED Gold standards. Other major sustainable design features include a green roof, gray water collection and re-use, bicycle storage and shower facilities, and high efficiency systems.
*The mission of The Food Project is to create a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds who work together to build a sustainable food system. Our community produces healthy food for residents of the city and suburbs, provides youth leadership opportunities, and inspires and supports others to create change in their own communities.
Charlestown, MA –
DREAM Collaborative has joined forces with Stantec and two other design firms to replace 1,100 units of housing spread out over 41 buildings in the Boston Housing Authority’s largest housing community for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The existing development will be replaced with 3,000 units of mixed-income residential, including 600 units of elder housing. The design process includes significant collaboration and coordination with the Boston Housing Authority and current residents.
Clients: Corcoran Jennison and SunCal
Scope of Work: up to 3,000 units of mixed-income residential
Scheduled Completion: phased through 2025
Check out this Boston Globe article.
July 20, 2016 –
Representatives from DREAM Collaborative and Janey Construction joined Mayor Martin J. Walsh to celebrate the ground breaking for Freedom House’s new community center headquarters. The project transforms the single-story, 8,440 sf Grove Hall Library building at 5 Crawford Street in Dorchester with an interior fit-out including office, technology lab, and teaching spaces, as well as envelope and roof repairs to the existing structure. The new facility will meet LEED standards for certification including high energy efficiency systems and materials, resulting in significantly reduced operating costs. Freedom House is a non-profit organization that provides youth programs aimed at transforming the economic and cultural fabric of high-need communities through education and leadership development.
Earlier this year, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) published a report on Diversity in the Profession of Architecture.
The AIA’s report concludes that, while improving, women and people of color continue to be underrepresented in the field.
According to the AIA’s survey, the key factors that contribute to the under-representation of people of color include:
- difficulty affording the costs associated with a degree in architecture
- few role models in architecture
- knowledge of architecture as a career option.
The top factors cited for the under-representation of women were related to work-life balance and include long hours that make starting a family difficult and lack of flexibility related to schedules, job sharing, or working remotely.
Both women and people of color say they are less likely to be promoted to more senior positions. Gender and race are also obstacles to equal pay for comparable positions, but this is particularly so for women.
Both women and people of color in architecture would benefit from:
- industry-funded scholarships
- mentorship programs
- clear written criteria for promotion
- attracting more women professors and professors of color to teach in architecture programs.
According to the report, additional strategies for addressing the under-representation of people of color in architecture could include: outreach to middle and high school students and industry support for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).
The top strategies for addressing the under-representation of women in the profession are promoting a change in culture that allows for better work-life balance and increasing options for flexibility.
Read the full report: AIA_DiversitySurvey_2016