Brays Crossing is a joint venture between New Hope Housing Inc. (NHHI) and the City of Houston. It is a remodeling of a crime ridden apartment complex built in 1964 adjacent to Interstate 45. The seven existing wood framed buildings were badly rotted even though they are 3’-0” above grade. There are 149 units of single room occupancy (SRO) units several community spaces.
The design problem was to connect the existing buildings with accessible walkways, make the site safe and also lower the freeway noise 28dB. The solution was a walkway system three feet above grade with porches and a sound wall 500 feet long and 14 feet tall. The project incorporates work by Texas artists with stained glass windows in the lobby and four plasma-cut steel murals at the porches. The murals visually activate the sound wall, maintain security on the site and add an element of whimsy. The porches mark Houston’s seasons: the winter sun throws the mural shadows deep into the porches to warm them while the overhangs shade the porches in the summer.
The buildings will save 25% of the energy used on site by adding insulation, new siding, roofs, windows, doors, plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems. The landscaping is xeriscapic, utilizing aloes, agaves and yuccas. The project fulfills NHHI’s mission of changing the reality and the image of affordable housing in Houston and the architect’s mission of bringing pleasure to all levels of housing.