design sustainability

Building of the week: Bancroft School Apartments


Bancroft School was built in 1904 in Kansas City, Missouri. The school closed and the building sat empty for 13 years, slipping into dereliction and dragging down the rest of the neighbourhood with it. That changed recently, and in November last year the building re-opened as apartments. Not just any apartments – but LEED Platinum certified, the highest certification from the US Green Building Council.

The building was insulated and all the windows were replaced. The school’s oak floors were renovated wherever possible, and over 400 solar panels were fitted on the roof. Alongside the apartments inside are a gym, computer lab and an auditorium, with community gardens and new houses were built around the school. The apartments are intended to be low cost rental accommodation for those on low incomes or in vulnerable housing.


It’s an impressive development, but I mainly wanted to mention the agency behind to project – Make it Right. They specialise in affordable housing that is designed with participation from local residents. They believe that good architecture shouldn’t just be for the wealthy, and that good buildings can drive regeneration. They’re also major innovators in green design techniques and work to cradle to cradle principles. (Samuel Mockbee would be proud.)

Cradle to cradle means producing everything for re-use wherever possible, using recyclable or biodegradable materials. Make it Right buildings generate more electricity than they use, use water efficiently, and are landscaped with native plants. They have experimented with green roofs, pervious concrete and numerous other green building techniques, and share their findings through an extensive online library so that others can benefit from what they have learned.

Make it Right was founded in 2007 by Brad Pitt, to take a lead in the re-construction of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. It has since built houses for disabled veterans and on Indian reservations.


  1. Great story. We need more re-development instead of chewing up more open space for people to live. It’s great that they can re-develop to such high standards and still be able to rent to lower income folks.

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