Bradley Commons

Location: Central Ave, Dover, NH
Owner: The Housing Partnership

Bradley Commons

Developed on the site of the former St. Charles Church, Bradley Commons harkens to the historic elements of the church while filling in the urban framework along Central Avenue in Dover, New Hampshire. Due to excessive structural damage to the church, the Diocese sold the property to a local non-profit workforce housing developer under the condition that affordable housing be created in the church’s place, keeping with a mission to give back to the community.

The new development offers workforce housing residences and commercial space close to the thriving downtown area.  The goal of the design was to respond to the natural curve in the road while integrating the building into the existing topography.  The building’s design uses simple forms and massing, staying well within the tight workforce housing budget. An angled connector joins the two building blocks on two different grades.  This connector contains the first-floor lobby with vertical circulation and is repeated on each floor, creating small community spaces.  The street side lower level has commercial storefronts and houses offices for Community Action Partnership of Strafford County. The north side of the first floor hosts the Dover Head Start School, a national school readiness program for preschool aged children. The upper floors provide 39 apartments, ranging from one to three bedrooms, for residents with specific income restrictions. A warm red facade was chosen to refer to the predominance of red brick in the history of commercial mill buildings throughout the city.  A gray stone base anchors the building to the ground and dark gray panels highlight the vertical voids and projections, inspired by the industrial accents seen throughout town. The building was designed with energy efficient walls, windows and space layout.

The Housing Partnership Website


The list of COTE (AIA Committee on the Environment) items was created to help understand how a project meets the needs of users and how it impacts the environment.  The list focuses on best practices and high impact strategies for creating healthy places to live and work.  Here are some ways this project measures up to the COTE list:


The design concept brings the building to the street to better engage the community and is mindful of solar orientation when it comes to public and private spaces.  The building was designed to pay tribute to the church that once stood on the same site.


The site is walkable to the surrounding residential and commercial neighborhood.  A bus stop is located on site and other public transportation is nearby.  Materials, coursing and spaces are human scale.  The banding related to neighboring mill buildings.  Bike racks are provided to residents and promote an active lifestyle.  Benches and diverse landscaping promote interaction in outdoor spaces.  ADA compliant spaces, economic accessibility, a welcoming public space and community room promote social equity.  The lobby displays artifacts from the church that once stood on the same site.


Native plantings and sustainable landscape adorn the property.  The storm water is managed ecologically.  Dark-sky compliant lighting is implemented.  A varient refrigerant flow cooling system operates more quietly than a standard system.


Localized stormwater management system to reduce existing and address new site water runoff.  Low-flow plumbing fixtures are used throughout.  Native plantings reduce irrigation requirements.


Durable, low-maintenence and impact resiliant materials were used.  Efficient energy usage and water performance design techniques decrease operational costs for the building.


Well insulated building with high quality air tight windows and construction; uses some passive design strategies, ERV, Heat Pumps and Solar panel ready.


Optimized daylighting and visual connection to outdoors with fresh air ventilation system and low VOC finishes for indoor air quality; walkable to downtown with bike racks installed.


Locally sourced materials and low VOC materials and adhesives were used.  A wood framed structure means low embodied carbon.


The commercial spaces were designed for flexibility to be adapted over time.  Natural daylight allows circulation during the day.  Natural ventilation comes through operable windows.

Structural JSN Associates
MEP/FP Petersen Engineering
Civil Ambit Engineering
Landscape Robbie Woodburn


Year Completed 2018
Cost $9.5 Million
Gross Floor Area 61,000 SF
Units 39 Affordable Housing Residential, 4 Commercial