An innovative model for healthy and sustainable low-income housing

Via Verde—the “Green Way”—is a 222-unit affordable, sustainable, and replicable low-income housing development in the South Bronx, New York. The project, completed in 2012, grew out of two international design competitions that were part of the New Housing New York Legacy Project to create a new standard for affordable, green housing design.

The project addresses the scale of urban housing needs with a large-scale intervention along with a commitment to active, healthy living.

2013 Selection Committee

The winning design redeveloped a difficult parcel of land—a 60,000-square-foot triangular brownfield site—and created a 40,000-square-foot series of open green spaces on rooftops and terraces connecting three linked structures that rise from two to 20 stories and wrap around a central, landscaped courtyard. These open green spaces incorporate a grove of evergreen trees, an apple orchard, and vegetable gardens and encourage physical activity and community to support the mental and physical health of residents. About a third of the units in the complex are co-ops, while the remainder are rentals, and 7,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space houses a medical center and pharmacy.

The $98.9 million project, with cascading roof gardens and a distinctive facade, stands out among the brick buildings and towers in the neighborhood and serves as a creative model for affordable and sustainable design. The LEED Gold certified project includes photovoltaic solar panels on the rooftops and south-facing facades. Residential units have large windows, ceiling fans, and multiple exposures for cross ventilation, and the green rooftops are watered with captured roof run-off. Via Verde offers a new, comprehensive approach to inner city housing and is an inner-city sanctuary for its residents.