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Affordable Housing Meets Innovation: Elizabeth House III and Alexander House Projects

EM Structural Engineers is no stranger to architectural innovations—but recently, two of our projects, Elizabeth House III and Alexander House brought us to the cutting edge of affordable housing.

The term “affordable housing” conjures many images in popular culture—none of them particularly flattering. In movies and television, characters who live in affordable housing are often relegated to small, dilapidated living spaces.

But with Elizabeth House III and Alexander House, EM Structural Engineers has helped create incredible living spaces for mixed-income residents to thrive in.

The Elizabeth House III—located in Silver Spring, Maryland, and completed in 2022—is a colorful and dynamic high-rise building that features 67 mixed-income senior housing rental units. Residents have access to an amenity space, a health clinic, and a Montgomery County Recreation Center that features a swimming pool, gymnasium, exercise space, and meeting rooms. The building also features three levels of underground parking, and will eventually provide a green roof, biorientation, and rooftop garden.

Also located in Silver Spring, Maryland is the Alexander House Renovation. Originally built in 1992, this affordable housing project consisted of renovating all 305 units, in addition to the lobby and amenity spaces, and the replacement and upgrade of MEP systems and elevators. On top of impressive structural improvements, EM Structural Engineers spearheaded efforts to update the building’s appearance through new canopies, handrails, and façade elements.

Neither of these projects would have been possible without the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, which provided funds for both projects. Established in 1974, the HOC owns, leases, and operates housing and obtains public and private funds which allow the commission to provide housing, arrange for social services, and more. Their mission is to provide affordable housing and other supportive services that enhance the quality of life of low- and moderate-income individuals and families throughout Montgomery County.

Their innovative model differs from standard affordable housing models, in that they integrate affordable housing throughout the county. No longer are these projects relegated to poorer neighborhoods or different sections of the same building—instead, lower and moderate-income housing is housed in the same building—within the same communities, and with the same amenities, as standard and higher-end housing. The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission has pioneered this model, and local governments throughout the country continue to adopt their revolutionary practices.

The combination of creating new state-of-the-art buildings, renovations, and their progressive housing model enables the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission to achieve its mission of strengthening families and their communities. EM Structural Engineers is proud to have been a part of these incredible projects.

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