to the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative

Tompkins Community Action Builds Green Homeless Shelter for Women

Tompkins Community Action's latest project is Magnolia House, a housing development that provides 14 units of permanent supportive housing for women with or without children. TCA received a $2.7 million grant from the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance as part of its Homeless Housing and Assistance Program to fund construction of Magnolia House.

The existing house and garage was deconstructed by Finger Lakes Re Use.  Deconstruction is a fast-growing alternative to traditional demolition, a result of growing environmental awareness, increasing building materials costs, and evolving legislation. The purpose of deconstruction is to identify suitable buildings for deconstruction, safely dismantle them by hand to harvest maximum materials, and then sell the materials through an existing ReUse Center at discounted prices.  Through this process 36,759 pounds of materials were eligible for reuse or directly recycled.

The site design is a longitudinal lot facing east and west.  The project uses passive solar access and control wherever possible with its staggered walls and rear garden access. The longitudinal design maximizes the square footage for the Residential use as well as common outdoor areas.

Besides designing for a friendly urban pedestrian experience, all efforts are be made to make the space compatible with comfortable and pleasant living.  Natural light and materials, friendly common spaces with gardens, educational facilities, and comfortable rooms are the primary design goals.
The design includes the following features:    

Site Plan Concepts
  • Orient glass walls/windows for passive solar control for residences
  • Introduce native species in key areas to soften impact of buildings and parking lot at street edges
  • Use crushed earth hard pack parking material and walkways in lieu of paving
  • Provide indirect night lighting hidden in ground
  • The site perimeter will be screened for privacy and the fence will be integrated into the architecture
  • Propose low planters/green screens to soften visual impact between street and the project

Building Design Concepts
  • Use patinated green copper skin to bring “verde” to the grey Route 13
  • Create portal to welcome pedestrian to Magnolia and Chartwell and function as a visual link
  • Maximize south facing glass for winter gain and delighting with shade devices for summer
  • Provide South light for all units
  • Use of operable glass on front and back of building for passive cooling cross ventilation
  • Minimize glass on front of building for sound control
  • Maximize glass on back of building for garden vista
  • South and West private garden to create kids outdoor play areas
  • Outdoor breathing balcony on each floor
  • Multiple common areas throughout the building to create community experience
  • Use as much energy conservation and water conservation technologies as viable
  • Solar Hot Water
  • LED lighting


309 North Aurora Street | Ithaca, NY 14850 | info@tccpi.org

Magnolia House