Beginning in 2014 MSK Engineering, in collaboration with Goldstone Architecture, worked with Shires Housing to complete a rehabilitation of several downtown affordable housing sites for the Bennington Historic Rehabilitation project. The first site was a housing unit complex consisting of a dual-space layout that divided the three residential units from an unattractive large parking lot. The main part of the rehabilitation focused on energy efficient upgrades to the buildings as well as circulation and air-quality improvements. However, going a step beyond, MSK and Goldstone chose to focus on site improvements as well. Relocating some of the utilities made room for a central courtyard with green space and picnic tables with sidewalks that made the building more accessible to one another. The parking spaces were integrated intuitively with their respective units which in sum creates a more user-friendly and live-able site plan.
The second site, Battenkill North, consisted of only one building which was inhabited mainly by older tenants. The internal rehabilitation was still focused on energy improvements, but again, MSK and Goldstone turned their attention to the overall feeling of the site, which had no communal outdoor space. The final design converting a nearby scrubby area into a handicap accessible patio and included a series of raised gardening beds so that the elderly residents could more easily enjoy outdoor activities.
None of the site improvements were required for either project, but these inexpensive and simple initiatives made a huge difference for the Shire Housing residents. Ultimately, the people of the surrounding community benefited as well as the visual quality of their neighborhood increased.
In 2012 MSK Engineering was hired by Housing Vermont and Shires Housing to develop a site design for 24 units of new affordable housing on an undeveloped parcel in downtown Bennington. This project, known as Monument View, provided safe and modern living quarters for families and individuals with incomes between $25,000 and $36,000. Monument View is a good example of a construction infill development that makes use of fallow space within an already developed area and condenses residential habitation in urban areas thereby helping to avoid sprawl. MSK handled all permitting and attended several contentious public meetings as there was some public opposition to this project. The permits were appealed, Housing Vermont counter-appealed and eventually prevailed with better permit conditions than in the initial permit. The project, which is under construction observation by MSK now, is designed to fit in with the historic character of the surrounding community.