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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


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

Disaster Recovery Round 2: Houston, Texas

Disaster Recovery Round 2 (DR2) was launched five years after Hurricane Ike devastated the Texas Gulf Coast in an effort to fill the gap in home repair and replacement services while offering homeowners choice in their disaster recovery experience. The effort united the design expertise of local architects with insight from residents directly affected by the storm to create high-quality, cost-effective, and sustainable single-family houses that respect community interests and character in six target neighborhoods in the city of Houston.

To ensure that designs were community-informed, local leaders, city staff, and more than 300 neighborhood residents were engaged in the process through several public events, including a workshop, a focus group, and gallery shows. Local architects used the input from these engagement efforts to refine their home designs. To address the housing needs on a multi neighborhood scale, the vetted home designs were compiled into a catalogue and approved and permitted by the city. Individual homeowners were then scheduled to meet with design team representatives, where they were provided a selection of catalogue designs based on neighborhood preferences and site considerations. To date, over 260 homeowners have met with the design team to select a home from the catalogue. This community-informed approach to disaster recovery has benefitted residents, supported local professionals, and created a collaborative relationship among the city, residents, and local designers.

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

Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative: Chicago, Illinois

Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative (DA+HC) is a 32-unit, mixed-use housing development that includes a vibrant arts and cultural hub for Chicago’s Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood. The project embodies a successful collaboration between private, public, and nonprofit sectors committed to transforming the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood through the redevelopment of the Dante Harper townhouses, which were built by the Chicago Housing Authority in the early 1980s and vacated in 2007. The redevelopment involved renovating 32 of Dante Harper’s original 36 two- and three-bedroom townhouse units, including converting 4 of those units to flat configurations for accessibility compliance, and removing the four center units to create a 2,200-square-foot Arts Center complete with a dance studio, work and tech shops, and public meeting space. Financing for the redevelopment included Low Income Housing Tax Credits, state Donation Tax Credits, a Chicago Housing Authority loan, and a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.

DA+HC’s housing units now contain an even distribution of low-income, affordable, and market-rate units, and 72 percent of the occupants in DA+HC’s housing are at or below 80 percent of the area median income. To foster dialogue and collaboration between artists and community members, DA+HC is the first in the nation to provide artist residences in public housing. The artists living onsite volunteer their time to develop programming and catalyze neighborhood revitalization through artistic practice, individual empowerment, and community engagement. The Arts Center and adjacent landscaped courtyard now function as a community hub and support a variety of programs.

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

Lakeside Senior Apartments: Oakland, California

Located in a prime neighborhood on the banks of Oakland’s Lake Merritt, Lakeside Senior Apartments are home to 91 very low-income and special-needs seniors experiencing homelessness, many of whom have been displaced with the Bay Area’s rapidly rising housing costs. The development is designed to support independent living through the provision of extensive onsite services, access to amenities such as a pharmacy and grocery, and strong transit connections to downtown Oakland and San Francisco.

In addition to housing and services, the Lakeside Senior Apartments development provides indoor and outdoor community spaces at both the ground floor and upper levels. The ground-floor community room includes a kitchen and TV lounge as well as space for activities, including art programs and monthly resident town hall meetings. This community space opens widely to the courtyard, creating a flexible indoor-outdoor plaza. The private space offers views to the neighborhood and is visible to passersby, balancing security and transparency and connecting the building to the life of the larger neighborhood. The two building masses on the property connect across the courtyard at the upper levels via sunny bridges with neighborhood and lake views. A fifth-floor suite of community spaces includes rooftop garden plots for residents, a community room and kitchen, outdoor decks, and a wellness studio. Designed with a complementary series of sustainable strategies, the building is pending receipt of LEED for Homes Mid-Rise Platinum Certification.

Housing Accessibility– Alan J. Rothman Award
The purpose of this award is to recognize exemplary projects that demonstrate excellence in improving housing accessibility for people with disabilities.

Port Townsend Residence: Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend Residence is a modest home on level lot in a small community arranged around a common garden space which was built to accommodate a couple, one of whom uses a power wheelchair. The house offers an accessible route from the street through the house to the terrace and to the common garden space, thus expanding the effective living space and facilitating daily strolls in the neighborhood. An open plan facilitates circulation of a power wheel chair within a modest footprint. The telescoping doors to the bedrooms allow the owners choice in how to use the rooms and how connected they are to the living spaces. To facilitate use with limited dexterity, pocket doors have large panel-mounted handles, which do not disappear entirely into the wall. The entry door and sidelight feature vertical glazing to allow viewing of the external approach from any height.

The kitchen can be used from both a standing position and from a wheelchair; knee space is provided beneath the sink, and base cabinets fitted with drawers and a floor-to-ceiling cupboard maximize shelving within the reach range of a wheelchair user. In the kitchen, a wall oven and a wall-mounted microwave oven keep the oven racks within the proper reach range, and a pot filler faucet on the cooktop reduces the need to carry heavy pots. The bathrooms have knee space beneath the vanity, and they feature a threshold-free shower with a linear drain and a universal height toilet that serves both users. Additionally, the bathrooms’ towel bars and the adjustable shower head bar are built and anchored as grab bars, so that any of them can be relied upon in a fall.