chalmers court featured in Texas Architect

In the article, Affordable Island by Nkiru Gelles, Assoc. AIA, Texas Architect highlights what a magnificent asset Chalmers Court has and will be again to the Austin community. Part of a three-phase master planned redevelopment of the Chalmers Courts public housing complex, the first phase includes an 86-unit multifamily building that wraps around a green courtyard.



It’s been 81 years since the first families moved into these modest accommodations on Chalmers Avenue, which offered a higher standard of living and hinted at the promise of a more prosperous future. Carved out from the southeast corner of what was once the Masontown neighborhood in Austin, the original collection of 86 concrete-block residences was one of the first low-rent housing communities of its kind to be built in the United States, under the steam of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.


Site stormwater is captured through a series of tree-lined rain gardens located across the site. In the courtyard, a small bridged walkway crosses one of the larger rain gardens. This garden’s terraced edge invites connection to the site’s natural features. Other site amenities include an open lawn, play equipment, and a grill area. Planting helps buffer the ground floor apartment stoops, which encourage a neighborly living experience and provide residents a semi-private outdoor space. Established existing trees provide shady refuge in the courtyard’s seating area. In the building’s southeast corner, a smaller enclosed courtyard, well shaded by an existing Heritage Live Oak, provides more space for outdoor activity and gatherings.


Thank you to our very inventive team that brought this much-needed affordable housing was brought back to its former glory:


Architect Nelsen Partners

Client Housing Authority of the City of Austin; Carleton Companies

Developer and Contractor Carleton Companies

Civil Engineer Dunaway

Structural Engineer Connect Structural

MEP Engineer PHA Consulting Engineers

Sustainability Nelsen Partners