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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.

Awards American Institute of Architects - Housing and Community Design


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

Monteverde Senior Apartments: Orinda, California

Monteverde Senior Apartments is the first new senior affordable housing development in the City of Orinda, California, in three decades. Orinda is located close to the affluent Berkeley/Oakland Hills area, and older residents find it hard to remain there as they age due to the area’s high housing costs. The development provides housing to very- and extremely-low income senior households earning up to 50 percent of the area median income, and it links seniors to BART and downtown Orinda services and surrounding community.

The design of the Monteverde Senior Apartments community connects the city’s carefully executed past to its future design direction and downtown revitalization. In response to the challenging slope of the site, a 40-foot grade increase, the property was developed to include meandering paths up the slope and ensure accessibility to the building’s amenities, park, and surrounding community. Residents can enjoy the expansive views of Orinda's green foothills and walk to the Orinda’s downtown. Two courtyards were also developed along the slope, one active and one passive, to allow for a number of outdoor experiences for residents.

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

Plaza Roberto Maestas: Seattle, Washington

Developed on the site of a former surface parking lot located immediately adjacent to the historic Beacon Hill Elementary School building and the Beacon Hill light rail station, Plaza Roberto Maestas offers ground floor retail space designed for small, local businesses; office space; 112 units of affordable family housing; 2 live-work units at the plaza level; a cultural center to host community events and programs; and a public plaza that provides over 11,000 square feet of flexible community gathering space. The plaza also includes an expansion of the nationally recognized José Marti bilingual child development center. The plaza serves as the anchor project in the redevelopment of North Beacon Hill, and it responds to multiple goals outlined in the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan, including: contributing to a well-defined mixed-use residential neighborhood; creating a civic gathering space appropriate and flexible for the diversity of cultures living in the neighborhood; providing higher density development near transit; and adding to a mix of available housing options.

The development’s site concept is based on the historic pattern of plazas in Latino culture, where a building of civic significance serves as the focal point of a large public gathering space flanked by other active uses. The new east and west buildings form the sides to the new plaza and frame the schoolhouse building, which marks the plaza’s northern terminus. Building design takes cues from the massing, proportion, materials, and colors of the existing schoolhouse. Facades create well-defined, active, and welcoming street edges parallel to adjacent rights-of-way. Custom art celebrating Latino, Native American, African American, and Asian American culture is integrated throughout the project. The cultural center, located at the southeastern corner of the plaza, features garage doors that allows events to flow outdoor onto the plaza and festival street. Ground floor retail space also opens onto the plaza and faces the transit station across the street, helping activate the block.

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

Flance Early Learning Center: St. Louis, Missouri

Located only one mile from the downtown core and built on the site of one of the last public housing highrise structures in St. Louis, the Flance Early Learning Center was designed to proactively alter the course of the most impoverished zip codes in Missouri. This neighborhood has the lowest average household income, the highest percentage of households living below the poverty line, as well as the highest number of children aged five or below living in poverty in the city of St. Louis. The early learning program provides instruction, daycare, and nutrition education with an integrated wellness center for up to 164 children from households with various income levels. Several community-based design meetings helped to shape the center and address the needs of both the children and the neighborhood. As the direct result of the recommendation of the community members who participated in the design process, the center also includes a community room, which has been used extensively by neighborhood and community groups since the facility’s opening.

To facilitate community dialog, the community room is located at the most accessible point in the building. The center was also carefully designed to foster educational opportunities. The massing of the center allows the structure to “hug” the age-appropriate outdoor spaces. This design provides an abstracted, organic-formed, tree-like façade which creates a shaded porch for each classroom’s direct outdoor access, critical to the teaching philosophy of the facility. The development incorporates perforated metal shading to filter light, creating an effect similar to the dappling of light through a tree canopy. The interior utilizes a more sophisticated yet strategically playful color palate which fills the space with light and energy while allowing the building to remain a canvas for children to create and learn. To educate parents on the importance of dietary health and dining for their children, a full-service and demonstration kitchen has significant visibility.