Orchard Gardens has been recognized as one of the nation’s first and most successful examples of a new concept in community revitalization: the HOPE VI public housing program. The new Orchard Gardens replaced a failed, dysfunctional public housing development with a mixed income community of affordable family housing. The project helped spark the remaking of the Dudley Square neighborhood in Roxbury, one of the most disinvested areas of Boston. The master plan called for new construction of approximately 220 units within the existing housing development site and new construction of 120 units on vacant surrounding sites.
The predominant urban design concept was to reconnect the development with the existing surrounding streets and breakup the “superblock” to create neighborhood-sized city blocks. In addition to the new streets, DHK’s master plan included the preservation of an historic school building converted to housing, and the re-development of old Orchard Park, a landmark open space dating back over 100 years that is a key element of the new community. Implementation took place in two phases. The first consisted of 90 units including two and three story townhouses and detached two-family buildings. The second phase was designed to consolidate the core of the neighborhood around the public park and the rehabilitated Dearborn School, and to create the setting for a new K-8 public school. It included the construction of additional townhouses for a total of 115 units designed as attached two-family structures.