2022 UDAD 🏆 Awards

Gold Winner | Le Voisinage | Adams Architects, Inc.

With the recent onslaught of building in no- zoning Houston, spawned by the current economic boom, the landscape of this South Coast city is being assaulted like never before with speculative building, gorging itself primarily on multifamily housing, arising almost overnight. And only after this era’s development frenzy subsides will we be able to see what this torrid construction has wrought upon the urban landscape.

Urban Design & Architecture Design Awards 2023: Discounted Entries Open Now! Save $50
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Gold 🏆 Winner
Urban Design & Architecture Design Awards 2022

Le Voisinage
Housing Multi-Family Built

Adams Architects, Inc.

Joe Adams

Design Team
Joe Adams and Gail Adams

3115 Bammel Lane, Houston, TX, 77098

United States

©Gary Zvonkovic

Le Voisinage-The Neighborhood is a multi‐family housing project built quietly in inner‐city Houston that exemplifies development with dignity, a landmark project that concretely establishes how increasing density can indeed be accomplished with humanity. Fifteen freestanding residences, all of different plans knitted together with shared common open space, built as a prototype on a standard city block, this project is a beacon for sanity in light of the “overeating orgy” of hyper-development evidenced in Boomtown USA, the oil capital of the world.

Increasing density in itself does not signify decline, nor does it necessarily bring with it the devastation of a city’s human scale. But the market-driven urge to maximize profits has currently led to density without morality, capitalism without compassion, and balance‐sheet building; or quite simply put, just…“packin’emin” for profit.

Driven by high land costs in Houston’s current real estate market, this state of affairs unfortunately means that quality‐of‐life issues are the first values to be sacrificed.  The elusive proposition of “Building True Community” for example, certainly becomes expendable. Developers say, “I must recoup my dirt costs, my development costs, and make a ‘little’ profit on the side.” Unfortunately, greed eventually gets the best of even the bestofthem.

 Along with this kind of thinking comes the simplistic equation that the more DU’s (Dwelling Units) per acre one constructs, the dumb‐simple arithmetic measure of density, the greater one’s profit. Yet, it is this simplistic equation in operation that drives what we see transforming the urban landscape, its scale, and hence the livability of our city. Free of this antiquated thinking there has arisen Houston’s “bestkept secret”!

 “Le Voisinage The Neighborhood” offers itself as an exemplary way to do ever‐denser development, built sensitively with both grace and humanity. This project situated in the Upper Kirby District is a prototype infill project occupying an entirely vacant city block where building neighborliness through good planning, manifesting the notion of “real community” through deft physical configuration, and properly considered proximity, were absolutely foremost in the designer’s mind. Nuanced gradation of open space from purely private to semi-private, to semi-public, to publically-shared open space prevails, where the separation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic is key.

This project stands today fully populated with homeowners who would not now leave their Valhalla of genuine, manifest, real community for any amount of money, whose investment is accruing worth because of its commitment to humane values, not despite those values. Not surprisingly, humanity does sell. Capitalism can be compassionate. In fact, great, heart‐felt design triumphs over time. And indeed, the city and its inhabitants win in the end.