In Winter 2023, four interdisciplinary student teams in the Architecture 507 design studio explored development strategies at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in the Central District. One of teams was recognized with the 2023 Planet Positive Award for Student Work from Metropolis Magazine. The team consisted of: Bryce Boho (Architecture), William Flanagan (Architecture), Lu He (Landscape Architecture), Alicia Jacobs (Urban Design and Planning), Facundo Jaime (Architecture), Jacob Schmitz (Architecture). Faculty included: Donald King (Architecture), Brice Maryman (Landscape Architecture), Rick Mohler (Architecture), Jess Zimbabwe (Urban Design and Planning).
Seattle’s Central District, a long-standing African-American community, is facing strong gentrification and displacement pressures. As a result, Black churches face difficult decisions about whether to stay in the district or relocate. In response, the Nehemiah Initiative—a collaboration between church leadership, academic institutions, city departments, and affordable housing advocates – strives to leverage the churches’ property and assets to mitigate the ongoing gentrification and displacement through strategic urban design and real estate development. By adding sustainably built affordable housing and public spaces, the initiative can support black homeownership and small-business opportunities. At the same time, the plans maximize green stormwater infrastructure and on-site energy production while leveraging off-site prefabrication, including volumetric modular and mass timber construction, to reduce embodied carbon and costs.