It’s been nearly a year since we interviewed former student Elaine Morales, who had recently started working with the design non-profit bcWorkshop in Texas after graduating from our masters back in 2012. Now, we’re excited to see her work featured in The Atlantic’s City Lab, in an article that highlights the efforts of this small studio in establishing community engagement as part of the design process behind affordable housing developments in the some of the country’s poorest cities.
is part of the RGV (Rio Grande Valley) office, one of bcWorkshop’s three offices in Texas that offer services in analytics, mapping, planning, architecture and community engagement–the latter of which is their forte: bc, after all, stands for building community. Her work is mainly focused on RAPIDO, a disaster-relief housing project in collaboration with the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB), for which she leads the design and construction team and is project manager for team groups in outreach, case management and policy. The Lower Rio Grande Rapid Re-Housing Program (RAPIDO) uses a bottom up, community-based approach in rebuilding the communities affected by natural disasters like hurricanes common to the Texan Gulf coast.
“This is one of the poorest regions in the US,” explains Elaine. In 2008, Hurricane Dolly hit the Texan Gulf Coast and left a great deal of damage; low income families are still living in low standard conditions.”

“Some of these families didn’t receive federal assistance because of alleged deferred maintenance or because they didn’t seek assistance out of fear of getting deported, and that’s where RAPIDO comes into place.
The project rethinks the reconstruction model to integrate the relief and recovery phases, allowing a rapid response and increasing the availability of affordable housing after a disaster while engaging residents in the design and construction process.  RAPIDO has two main components: the pilot program which will deliver 20 housing prototypes and the policy recommendations for a Statewide Plan.
Congrats to our alumni Elaine, and to find out more, follow bcWorkshop on Facebook!

all photos @bcworkshop2014

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