Melrose, South Bronx
Grimshaw Architects, Dattner Architects

Status: Under Construction

Via Verde
Image courtesy Phipps House, Jonathan Rose Companies, Dattner Architects, Grimshaw Architects

The notorious South Bronx has come a long way since the 1970s, when burnt-out buildings and drug dealers were common sights. While poverty is still prevalent, the area has seen a flurry of development in the past decade, with a number of residential, commercial, and public projects either finished or under construction.

One such project is Via Verde, or the Green Way ' an affordable housing complex rising on a 1.5-acre remediated brownfield in the Melrose neighborhood. Conceived by Grimshaw Architects and Dattner Architects, who won the project through a 2004 competition sponsored by the city and AIA New York, the 300,000-square-foot development comprises a series of townhouses, a mid-rise building, and a 20-story tower, all organized around a central landscaped courtyard. The project's units are a mix of 71 middle-income co-ops and 151 low-income rentals. Amenities will include a fitness center, edible garden, and bicycle storage, plus ground-level retail and a health clinic.

Designed to achieve LEED Gold, the complex boasts an impressive list of sustainable elements, such as green roofs and photovoltaic panels. 'It's projected to have 30 percent energy savings over a baseline building,' notes Ari Alowan Goldstein, project manager with Jonathan Rose Companies, which is developing the project with Phipps Houses Group, a nonprofit entity.

Since site work began in March 2010, the $100 million project has progressed quickly. The superstructure is in place, and prefabricated facade panels made of concrete, wood, and aluminum are now being installed. The project's co-op units will come on line later this year, with rental units ready for occupancy in early 2012. Unlike in many big projects, the architects' vision wasn't compromised, says Goldstein. 'We're really proud of how much the building actually matches the original design intent and renderings,' he says. 'It's something we strived for.'