Katie Swenson
Katie
Swenson
Piedmont Housing Alliance
Charlottesville
Va.

2001
2004

“The heart of my fellowship focused on the Page Street Neighborhood Initiative. Working house by house and getting to know the building industry were incredibly important. The Rose Fellowship provided the support system that allowed me to grow my skills and ground my work in holistic community-based design.”

Katie spent her fellowship at Piedmont Housing Alliance, a regional nonprofit organization that creates housing and community development opportunities for very low to moderate income families and individuals, teaches financial literacy and management, home-buying and homeownership skills, and advocates for affordable housing policies and programs.

Katie’s fellowship work included one of Piedmont Housing Alliance’s most ambitious projects to date: the design and construction of the 10th and Page Street Neighborhood Revitalization Project, adding 30 new and restored affordable homes to a rapidly changing neighborhood sandwiched between the University of Virginia and downtown Charlottesville. And, while it assured a voice for the current residents, the project also achieved a milestone as the first affordable houses in the EarthCraft Home Program for Virginia.

Other project accolades included an EPA Energy Star Award as one of the top five, green, affordable building developments in the nation and an “Honorable Mention” in the Home Depot Foundation Awards for Excellence for Affordable Housing Built Responsibly program. Katie continued to make a difference for the Page Street area during her fellowship, most notably by initiating a collaborative design process with residents, nonprofits and local schools for the Hope Community Center.

Katie founded the Charlottesville Community Design Center and, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity led it to establish an influential and acclaimed international design competition. The competition’s innovative lessons are recounted in “Growing Urban Habitats: Seeking a New Housing Development Model,” which Katie co-authored with William Morrish and Susanne Schindler. Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from the University of California-Berkeley and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia.

Katie oversees National Design Initiatives for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., directing the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute, the Pre-Development Design Grant, and the Rose Fellowship.

kswenson-hope-community-center.jpgHope Community Center

Scope:
Community center (6,600 sq ft)

Residential Unit Profile:
The Hope Community Center, located at 341 11th Street in the 10th and Page neighborhood, is in the final stages of a major redevelopment that has lead to its expanded use as a Community Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Hope Foundation purchased the property in 1998 with the mission of outreach and inner-city community development. Since the time of the purchase, the original one-story, 3600-square-foot building has served the community as a place for neighborhood meetings, Bible studies, Police Department meetings and diverse congregations.

One of the primary goals of the project is the stabilization of a neighborhood threatened by disassociation led by both city-wide market pressures and an ever expanding need for student housing. Hope Community will serve as a neighborhood center that reflects and celebrates the identity of the people it serves, a common ground where empowerment and a sense of community is cultivated, where people of all ages are encouraged to meet. The Center provides for community gatherings, church programs, wedding receptions and family reunions, as well as computer classes for children, adults and the elderly; job training courses; after-school programs; mentoring services; home-ownership counseling; rehab services; and summer programs for children.

The architectural design process was a collaboration with Frederick P. Rose Architectural Fellow Katie Swenson, Design Corps Fellow Liz Hoogheem, and Stoneking-Von Storch Architects. A new 3,000-square-foot building hosting a large multi-purpose room creates a courtyard between the new and old buildings that serves as a gathering place, as well as a safe path to the local elementary school.