2017 Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition Site Visit
The four finalist teams—New York University/Columbia, Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, and Yale University—that were selected during the initial phase of the Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition recently traveled to Cleveland to meet with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) and explore the site identified for updated design and construction plans. The site — Woodhill Homes — is one of the oldest public housing developments in the country and, as its name suggests, sits atop a hill overlooking beautiful downtown Cleveland and the surrounding urban neighborhoods of University Circle, Tremont, and Lakewood. For Woodhill Homes, however, the distinction of being one of the first brings with it myriad challenges that often befall historic, aging structures.1 The site’s buildings, or villages, are in dire need of major upgrades to address a deteriorating indoor insulation and water system, mechanical repairs, density reconfigurations, and numerous renovations in and around the site to improve safety and environmental conditions.
In addition to the onsite considerations, the student teams are also being asked to develop strategies that improve street design and connectivity to the thriving downtown core where residents may take advantage of increased work opportunities, popular restaurants, cultural activities, and the variety of parks and museums. In short, the students confront a daunting task for this year’s competition: they must formulate innovative solutions to design and construction problems that go beyond a particular building or development site. Their revised site plans must respond to what Director of City Planning Freddie Collier calls the “three pillars of a well-designed community”: health and wellness, equitable development, and a sustained commitment to the preservation of quality of life for Woodhill residents.
Upon arriving at the site, students were greeted by Jeff Patterson, executive director and chief executive officer of CMHA, who offered an inspiring message about progress already achieved at Woodhill Homes. The 478-unit multifamily property has undergone physical restoration under the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. CMHA worked with the City of Cleveland and private partners to leverage over 70 million dollars of capital to modernize approximately 500 existing public housing units. When their current plan is fully built out, CMHA will have attracted more than 320 million dollars in private capital that will go directly into the redevelopment of 2,500 existing public housing units—one-quarter of their 10,000-unit public housing portfolio. In addition, working with the Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, a local community development financial institution, the private-public partnership facilitated the renovation of the historic St. Luke’s Hospital, which ultimately led to the creation of thousands of jobs for residents of Woodhill and the surrounding area. The students spent the rest of the day touring the site and strategizing with their fellow teammates, visiting the flourishing neighborhoods of Buckeye-Shaker, Cedar Central, and University Circle, and learning about innovative approaches to site design.
Now that the students have visited this year’s selected site, they must put on their thinking caps and prepare their final site plans. On April 18, the teams will present their revised proposals that will emphasize innovation in all aspects of their site plan, with specific attention to the environmental, financial, and social criteria associated with the Woodhill site and the surrounding community. The presentations will take place at HUD Headquarters after lunch. The jury will deliberate and choose the first- and second-place teams at the end of the day.2 The event is open to all HUD employees and the public and will be webcast.
To learn more about this year’s Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition, visit https://www.huduser.gov/portal/challenge/home.html.
To attend the Awards Ceremony Event taking place on Tuesday, April 18, please register here.
Woodhill Homes Physical Assessment Needs: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sites/default/files/pdf/Woodhill-Homes-Physical-Needs-Assessment.pdf.×
To learn about the 2017 Innovation in Affordable Housing jury, please visit https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sites/default/files/pdf/2017-Juror-Bios.pdf.×