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American Institute of Architects - Housing and Community Design Awards

The Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in conjunction with the Residential Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects (AIA), recognizes excellence in affordable housing, community-based design, participatory design, and accessibility. These awards demonstrate that design matters and provide examples of important benchmarks in the housing industry. Awards are offered in four categories: Community–Informed Design Award, Creating Community Connection Award, Excellence in Affordable Housing Design Award, and Housing Accessibility— Alan J. Rothman Award.

Community-Informed Design Award
The Community-Informed Design Award recognizes design that supports physical communities as they rebuild social structures and relationships that may have been weakened by out-migration, disinvestment, and the isolation of inner-city areas.

Congo Street Initiative of Dallas, Texas.

Built prior to 1910, this narrow street, with 17 single-family and duplex houses, was often referred to as the "all-colored alley." In 1933, the street's long-time landlord deeded properties on the north side to the residents. Many of the current residents of this community are the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren of former renters.

The process of restoring structural integrity to the street developed out of a desire to preserve the tightknit sense of community that has existed on Congo Street for decades, and to respect the economic options available to the homeowners. Despite the need for repairs, residents have expressed a desire to remain in their homes and have resisted development plans that would displace them, even temporarily. The challenge was how to redevelop without relocation and without incurring steep financial burdens. Through neighborhood meetings, the residents developed a process, starting with the idea of building a new residence on the street that would serve as a temporary home for each family during the evaluation and rehabilitation of their home. The jury observes that this project demonstrates an exceptionally high level of community engagement.


Brent Brown

Creating Community Connection Award
This award recognizes projects that incorporate housing within other community amenities for the purpose of either revitalization or planned growth.

Artist Housing/Arbor Lofts of Lancaster, California.

A 21-unit affordable housing development for artists, is the first urban infill project to be completed since the city implemented its new Downtown Specific Plan. These new urban pioneers support the city's goal to "revitalize and improve the Downtown as a place of historic, cultural, social, economic and civic vitality." Very low rents for live/work lofts equipped with special provisions for artists, a nonprofit gallery to exhibit artwork, and very convenient public transportation create an ideal environment for fostering creativity and success. As part of an agreement to provide financing through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, all of the units are set aside for tenants with incomes at or below 60 percent of area median income. The design incorporates numerous sustainable elements to reduce the use of fossil fuel energy and water usage, and to improve indoor air quality. The project's design also exceeds the immediate need of the program to provide an iconic and richly articulate building that also energizes the neglected city center. Since its opening in late summer of 2009, the Gallery space has had three openings and hosted fundraisers; five new local businesses have opened; and the façade has provided the backdrop for farmers markets, a street fair, kart races, and other community activities.

In-Site Development

PSL Architects

Excellence in Affordable Housing Design
The Excellence in Affordable Housing Design Award award recognizes architecture that demonstrates overall excellence in terms of design in response to both the needs and constraints of affordable housing.

Paseo Senter at Coyote Creek of San Jose, California.

This project creates a "place" in a previously disconnected, disused section of the city. Paseo Senter's neighborhood opens onto a new main street, or paseo, that connects the arterial roadway to the area's green recreation area. The paseo — a road designed for pedestrians — bustles with activity engendered by entry stoops and retail-style social services, including a community room, library, and kin caregiver center. At its midpoint, the paseo widens into a plaza that holds the main entries to the two residential buildings, as well as to the pool area. In each building, three stories of apartments top the "retail" uses in a classic urban mixed-use style, and the apartments wrap the garage, maintaining an active street edge. This project has a strong affordable housing focus — with commitment from both public and private entities — incorporates mixed use, and promotes a variety of housing choices.

The Core Companies

David Baker + Partners

Housing Accessibility: Alan J. Rothman Award
Housing Accessibility: Alan J. Rothman Award recognizes exemplary projects that demonstrate excellence in improving housing accessibility for people with disabilities.

Madrona Live/Work of Seattle, Washington.

A storefront from the early 1900s has been converted into a live/work space for a couple with an extensive art collection. Creating the modern equivalent of the traditional courtyard house, the new design is centered on a large skylight over the living and dining room. Inspired by a shipping container, a wood-clad service core houses the kitchen and power room. A flexible and multifunctional space is facilitated by large pocket doors, steel plate blinders that hide the kitchen, and concealed equipment that pivots out for use. This project transformed the AIA jury's thinking about what traditional accessible design is and what it can be.

John and Tina Kucher

Tyler Engle Architects, P.S.