After the completion of the Six-Square House, Project Row Houses, recognizing the pressing need for rental housing in the Third Ward neighborhood, asked the Rice Building Workshop to investigate design possibilities on a site in the PRH campus. The design emerged as a duplex apartment in the Houston tradition, with two two-bedroom units, one above the other, each apartment with its own front porch, accessed by an exterior stair, all under a generous roof. In general, the architectural character was developed from the earlier student design/build “Six Square House,” simple and consistent with the vernacular of the neighborhood, but stated in a way that architecture students could be proud of. The students prepared construction drawings for their design.

The initial construction of four duplexes (8 apartments), built by a neighborhood contractor, was so successful that Project Row Houses then acquired land behind the first project to construct eight new structures (16 apartments), this time including three bedroom types as well. These were completed in 2008, with HUD funding through City of Houston Home Funds, and participation by many institutional supporters.

After that, Midtown Redevelopment Authority, with the charge to create affordable housing as part of their TIRZ activities, joined with the Row House CDC to develop the duplex design on two sites in the eastern Third Ward, near the UH central campus, and the future Metro southeast line. In 2010, the Anita Duplexes (15 duplexes and 30 apartments) began construction and the Napoleon Street Duplexes (11 units) will begin construction soon. These are the third and forth iterations of the original student design, this time with an increased commitment to sustainability, durable construction, and universal accessibility. The units are Energy-Star certified, incorporating highly efficient air conditioning, insulation, windows, light fixtures, and additional features seldom seen in affordable housing.

In all, 54 apartment units have been or will be added to the neighborhood, providing dignified living at very affordable prices.

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