This year, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) sought out films featuring architects partnering with civic leaders to have a positive impact on their communities. We leaped at this opportunity to tell the story of Martha A. Lang Cyber Village, Miracle on 7th Street. Voting is now open!
In 1999, Reverend Mary Moore and Reverend Martha Lang set out to build affordable senior housing on vacant land next to their North Philadelphia church. They felt a calling to provide affordable housing for seniors living in their community. They also envisioned a “Cyber Village” that would help residents develop the technology skills to navigate an increasingly digital society. However, neither of the pastors had ever developed a building before and they did not own the land.
This is the story of how they overcame every hurdle along the way through their persistence and their ability to tap into support and expertise from their congregation, the Community Design Collaborative, BWA Architecture + Planning, Philadelphia City Council, and others.
In 2009, their dream became a reality with the ribbon-cutting of 56 units of rental housing that provided access to personal laptops, a technology center, and community spaces under a full-building green roof—one of the first of its kind in Pennsylvania. In 2019, the Martha A. Lang Cyber Village celebrated its 10th anniversary. It remains a powerful story of determination and a prime example of equitable and sustainable design for senior affordable housing in Philadelphia and beyond.