Commonwealth Development

Boston, MA

Commonwealth Development (formerly Fidelis Way) was a 640 unit public housing development that suffered high vacancy rates, excessive turnover and rampant crime. The initial planning task was to develop program guidelines for the reconstruction effort. Working with the tenant organization and the Housing Authority’s in-house planning staff, these guidelines delineated both the social objectives of site and dwelling unit design, as well as the construction quality and long term maintenance requirements of the project. Many of these issues required significant deviations from the normal HUD standards and required their cooperation and involvement.

Working closely with residents we developed many innovative strategies including density reduction, elimination of common stairs and entrances, and categorization of open space. New roadways promoting surveillance were integrated with neighborhood amenities including day care facilities, a senior center, community gardens and a management/multi-purpose building. The resulting 392 unit community proved the validity of planned interventions supporting HUD's HOPE VI program.

Awards & Publications

AIA Urban Design Award

BSA/AIA Housing Design Award

Governors Design Award

Urban Land Institute Award

Space and Society MIT Press

"Reclaiming Public Housing" Lawrence Vale, Harvard Press 2002

NAHRO's 25 year Sustainability Award

Construction Info

Client - Boston Housing Authority

Construction Cost - $32M

Date of Completion - 1985