LOW-INCOME HOUSING IS always a balancing act, the challenge being to keep costs down while maintaining high quality. “This is not throwaway architecture,” says Jeffrey Murphy, who designed these 13 tidy row houses across the street from a South Bronx park. “This is the stuff that comprises our cities.”

With limited resources, Murphy's team “made a couple of well-considered moves.” The first was to activate the street by encouraging curbside parking and outfitting each unit with an oversized front stoop where residents could gather.

The second was to open up the interior stairwell and add a skylight above the second floor. This detail, along with the open plan on the first floor, helps bring more natural light into each unit.

All homes are faced with red brick, save the two stucco end units. Alternating skins was a deliberate strategy to prevent the façade from being perceived as a “cheesy” veneer, Murphy says. The stucco also provides a surface from which graffiti can be easily removed.

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Photos: Kevin Chu

Category: Focus on affordability; Entrant/Architect: Murphy Burnham & Buttrick, New York; Builder: Maskow Masonry, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Developer: Habitat for Humanity, Brooklyn; Landscape architect: Robin Key Landscape Design, New York

Learn more about markets featured in this article: New York, NY.