Affordable housing at Eliot Congregational Church will help the underserved community of Roxbury, a neighborhood of Boston, MA. A 4-story, 15-unit addition will occupy the 4,500sf portion of the site, currently a parking lot. The project’s scale is consistent with triple deckers and other multi-family housing in the neighborhood and is intended to be a prototype with multiple roof profiles, façade arrangements and cladding materials that can be tailored to similar small-scale developments on empty smaller lots across Boston. Mass Timber in conjunction with light-frame wood (LFW) will bring a low embodied carbon approach along with biophilia to affordable housing, combining environmental sustainability with social equity, diversity and inclusion.
Project type and size were primary factors that dictated a specific mass timber solution: Nail Laminated Timber (NLT) to significantly reduce costs associated with manufacturing given its easy fabrication with simple hand tools. NLT also brings the benefits of exposed wood; visually appealing grain, warmth to touch and fresh pine scent that promote user wellbeing and greater carbon sequestration, while LFW brings affordable construction type and practical wall cavities for outlets, conduits and pipes, all possible with small local contractors. Strategic locations of NLT, for shear walls in the center and floor and roof panels, maximize its structural application and exposed wood without hindering building envelope and systems. LFW, free of taking lateral loads, allows larger perimeter openings to bring in ample daylight and maximize façade flexibility while maintaining practical functionality for this new sustainable prototype for affordable housing.