The District of Columbia Building Industry Association’s (DCBIA) Community Improvement Day caught our attention two decades ago as an opportunity to work hand-in-hand with clients and partners to support community development in our hometown of Washington, D.C. In the nearly 20 years since our first Community Improvement Day, this cause has proved to be more rewarding than we could have ever imagined.
In 2015, HITT had the honor of co-chairing the annual event, with Senior Project Manager Rob Kurucza and a team from CallisonRTKL stepping up to tackle the largest Community Improvement Day project to date. The goal was to turn an abandoned and overgrown lot into the University of the District of Columbia’s East Capitol Urban Farm. The project would provide Ward 7 constituents access to fresh food and environmental education.
We’ve built a lot of things in our 80 years, but never a farm. “We ran into every issue we could have possibly imagined,” recalled Rob. “There was no infrastructure to start from, a tight budget to contend with, difficulties with soil transport, and unexpected concrete removal.”
Despite these issues, Rob and his team successfully led a group of more than 1,000 volunteers, to deliver a dream. The lot is now home to a multi-functional, three-acre farm complete with community beds for gardening, an aquaponics system, walking trails, and play space for children.
“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Rob. “It’s amazing to see and experience the collaboration between our team members, clients, partners, and competitors, and even more rewarding to see what we can build together.”