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Student Design & Planning Competition: Q&A


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All questions must be submitted to Questions and answers will be posted to this page in a timely manner.

Registration Q&A:

Q: Is there a limit to the number of teams from one academic institution?

A: Up to 5 teams can apply from each school (first come first served based on date of registration). Please keep in mind that multiple Phase I submissions do not guarantee being selected for Phase II. The final four teams for Phase II are selected by a panel of impartial jurors in a blind review.

Q: I am interested in participating in the competition this year, but my university does not have an architecture or design program. Is there a way I can still meet the cross-disciplinary team requirements? Can I work with students from other universities that have an architecture program?

A: Yes, we encourage you to work with graduate students from other universities to fill the multidisciplinary requirement. You can find potential team members by using the Team Finder Forum on the competition website.

Q: Will teams from different universities that choose to form a combined team still be held to the maximum number and configuration of students as the rest of the teams?

A: Yes, all teams participating must meet the competition’s eligibility requirements regardless of their university affiliation.

Q: Given the multidisciplinary nature of the competition, can a team have more than one Faculty Advisor?

A: Teams can only have one faculty advisor on record when they register with HUD. The advisor on record (along with the team members) will receive communications from HUD about the competition. The number of faculty that can work with a team is up to the discretion of the university or college.

Q: Is there any prize money for winning teams?

A: The winning team receives $20,000; the runner-up team receives $10,000; the two remaining finalist teams each receive $5,000.

Q: Is it possible to join the competition as an international graduate student if all other team members are U.S. citizens?

A: Yes, as long as at least three members of your team are U.S. citizens or permeant residents, you can participate as an international student.

Q: Where in the country will the homes be built? Will we be working with a large or small PHA, tribe or TDHE?

A: The partnering PHA, tribe or TDHE will be announced in mid-November 2023. At that time, the PHA, tribe or TDHE's location, size and community information will be provided to teams.

Q: Can a multidisciplinary team of eligible graduate students be supported by a select multidisciplinary group of undergraduate students?

A: The team must be composited of graduate students only. The students that support the team are up to each school’s discretion, but only graduate students are eligible to participate and compete in the competition.

Q: Are there any travel subsidies?

A: Travel expenses for both the site visit and final event will be paid for two members of each finalist team (if held in-person). Additional team members are encouraged to attend; however, travel costs will not be covered and will need to be arranged independently.

Q: In the event a team member drops out are we able to replace that person without penalty?

A: During Phase I we will announce a final date to submit changes to teams. This includes additions and replacements of team members.

Q: Is the project topic geared around the HAs needs / requirements? Or is this a standalone project?

A: Multi-disciplinary teams comprised of graduate students in architecture, planning and policy, finance and other areas will be asked to address social, economic, and environmental issues in responding to a specific housing problem developed by an actual public housing agency (PHA), tribe or tribally designated housing entity (TDHE). The needs and requirements are defined by the PHA, tribe or TDHE, HUD Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) works with the PHA, tribe or TDHE to develop the necessary project briefing materials, a comprehensive problem statement; background information on the project; community information; and relevant existing design proposals. Each year the competition is different based on the needs and location of the PHA, tribe or TDHE therefore it is a stand-alone project.

Q: Are past competitions submissions public?

A: Past competition submissions are not public, but you can find case studies on previous winner and runner up submissions on the Past Competitions page of the IAH website.

Q: Could you please clarify the exact boundaries of the site for the IAH competition? I presume it is comprised *only* of the 500 block of West Olin Avenue, or the Romnes Apartments and adjacent open space bounded by Hickory Street, W. Lakeside, W. Olin, and the homes along the 1100 and 1000 blocks of Gilson? None of the buildings other than the Romnes Apartments are contemplated for potential replacement or rehabilitation, correct?

A: The image below shows the property boundaries. Only the Romnes Apartments site should be considered for the project.

Street map of Romnes Apartments property boundaries.

Q: The Madison zoning map says the property in question is in the zone SR-V2. This zone requires a minimum of 1500 sq ft per multi-family dwelling unit. This is about 29 units per acre. However, the competition information says this zone allows 90 units per acre. I can't find any overlay zone that allows for this extra density. What are we missing here?

A: Madison CDA decided to use the Generalized Future Land Use (GFLU) Plan which calls for “Medium Residential.” More info below:

  • Comprehensive Plan 2023 Updates.
  • As part of the 2023 updates, the City updated the GFLU map to reflect land use recommendations from neighborhood, area, and neighborhood development plans adopted between 2018-2023.
  • The GFLU calls for “Medium Residential” or MR (see image below).
  • This document defines GFLU “Medium Residential” and connects to SR-V2 zoning.

This is how Madison CDA can justify up to 5 stories and 90 units/acre.

Generalized Future Land Use (GFLU) map of the City of Madison.

Q: Would it be possible for teams to receive a specific list of prohibited contacts, particularly consultants and competition jurors? The slide in the webinar prohibits "[a]ttempts to communicate with HUD staff, the partnering housing authority staff or consultants, or the competition jurors," but does not give notice of who the latter parties are, which could lead to a participant inadvertently reaching out to someone without knowing it.

A: The competition doesn’t announce the names of the jurors ahead of the final presentations in Washington D.C. in April. The jurors have been informed that if a student or team reaches out to them, they should not respond and let HUD know right away. If you attempt to contact a juror, consultant, etc., inadvertently, you won’t be disqualified. We will simply let you know that the person you reached out to is not available to discuss the competition. Any attempts by you or your team to contact that person(s) after we let you know they are not available to discuss the competition will result in disqualification.

Attempts to contact anyone that works for HUD or for the Madison Community Development Authority are prohibited and will result in disqualification from the competition. If you have specific people that you would like to contact and are unsure of, you can send an email to and provide their names and positions and you will receive a reply letting you know if they are off-limits to speak with.

Q: Is it against the competition rules to contact the city zoning department directly for clarification on some zoning aspects?

A: As long as you aren’t contacting the Madison Community Development Authority, then yes, you can contact the zoning department.

Q: What is the income demographic of the current tenant base?

A: Please review these sites:,

Q: Are the current units stacked on top of each other?

A: Yes, the current building has two floors of residential units.

Q: Are there detailed site dimensions available?

A: Although not exact, students can use the City’s GIS website to measure the building site.,Parcel,070926114152

Q: Have there been any modifications to major plumbing or electrical systems?

A: No significant modifications.

Q: How many people work at the CDA?

A: At this site there are four office staff and six maintenance staff.

Q: How many people will work in the new office building?

A: Plan for six office staff and eight maintenance staff.

Q: How many square feet are required in the new office building?

A: 3,000-4,000 sq ft maintenance shop; 1,500-2,000 sq ft management office; 5,000-7,000 sq ft resident community spaces (ex.: library, community/multipurpose room, kitchenette, fitness room, art room); 500-800 sq ft CDA/HUD collaboration space.

Q: Does the CDA prefer to have any additional amenities (gym, locker room, cafeteria, yoga studio, etc.)?

A: Yes, see previous answer.

Q: Is it a requirement to utilize HUD’s RAD housing? Or can we include Section 8/18 housing units?

A: Units that will replace the existing Public Housing units should use HUD’s RAD/Section 18 blend. For new units (in addition to the replacement units), teams may consider Section 8 PBVs if needed to make the cash flow/Debt Service work (however, students should attempt to limit the number of PVB units).

Q: Is the railroad east of the site still in operation?

A: Yes.

Q: Does public transportation extend to this site?

A: Yes, Metro Transit buses run past the site and the future BRT will run approximately three blocks west of the site, along Park St.

Q: Are there approvals in place to add gas grills outside?

A: Yes, community gas grills can be installed for residents.