AIA/HUD Awards Show that Good Design Isn't Just for Rich People

aia winner homes for the needy photo

Photo credits: Jeffrey Peters/Anne Hamersky

So many of the prizes for architecture go to gems that cost serious money to build, for people that have serious money to pay for it. The AIA/HUD awards are different; they recognize "excellence in affordable housing architecture, neighborhood design, participatory design, and accessibility."

The Paseo Center at Coyote Creek won for Excellence in Affordable Housing Design.

aia award winner low income housing photo

This project proposed to create a "place" in a disconnected, somewhat forgotten section of the city. Historically a pomegranate orchard, the 4.7 acres of land had become a series of abandoned and neglected parcels compromised by a floodplain and unusable by the city or are units reserved for single-parent households, formerly homeless tenants, and victims of domestic violence. Additionally, the development features high density for a mainly suburban area: 44 units per acre. It exceeds Title 24, California's already strict energy-efficiency standards, by 15%. Energy use is very low, reducing the utility costs borne by low-income residents.

Architects: David Baker + Partners, Architects

aia award winner artists housing photo

Photo credit: Tom Varden/Panic Studio LA

The "Creating Community Connection" award went to Arbor Lofts, a 21 unit affordable housing for artists in Lancaster, california.

In response to the potential needs of the intended user group, many enhancements were included in the design of the 21 two-story living units, including high ceilings, abundant natural light, natural and mechanical ventilation for fresh air, finished concrete floors, a 220-volt outlet for equipment such as a kiln, etc. The non-profit gallery is curated by the tenants as an outlet to show and sell their artwork.

The design incorporates many sustainable design methods; among these, the use of high efficiency mechanical systems qualifies the design to exceed California Title 24 Energy Code requirements by 20% and the lighting system exceeds the requirements by 24% which significantly reduces the use of energy. Additionally, the project received the support of the City and financing through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

Architects: PSL Architects

the Community-informed Design Award goes to the Congo Street Green Initiative in Dallas. 17 houses dating to 1910 are being upgraded and made more efficient.

This concentrated effort to address homes in distressed neighborhoods changes the conversation about the current approach to urban housing development and sustainable design. The holding house model challenges the current scope of urban revitalization, which prior to this have taken the approach of slum clearance or urban infill, and gives new value to disadvantaged communities by bringing innovative ideas to their front porch.

Architects: building community WORKSHOP

aia winner courtyard house exterior photo

Photo credit: Benjamin Benschneider

The Housing Accessibility Award goes to a conversion of a Seattle storefront into a stunning, fully accessible residence, Madrona Live.

The judges wrote:

This project transcends our preconceptions about accessible design and illustrates how Universal Design can be embodied in a design solution that is attractive and usable to a wide audience.

It is a modern version of a 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 powder room. A flexible and multi-functional space is facilitated by large pocket doors, steel plate blinders that hide the kitchen and concealed equipment that pivots out for use.

Architect: Tyler Engle Architects PS

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