May 14, 2014

The HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition

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Ohio State University winners with Secretary Donovan. Left to right: Donald Wiggins, Jr., Shanell Davis, and Brad Hosfeld

The inaugural year of the competition comes to an exciting close

Tuesday, May 6 marked a successful end for the 2014 HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition (IAH)—a competition intended to encourage research and innovation in affordable housing that fosters cross-cutting teamwork within the design and community development process. Four student-led teams from New York University, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, and a joint New York University/Columbia University team presented concepts to a panel of jurors. These presentations were the result of over four months of competition which included two phases and one site visit to Emerson, New Jersey.

This year’s competition was based on an exciting project that the Housing Authority of Bergen County (HABC)is planning to undertake. The project involves a historic American Legion building situated on 1.5 acres.  HABC wishes to maintain this historic building while providing affordable housing for homeless veterans. IAH student participants needed to consider design, community development, and financing elements in order to provide an all-encompassing plan and solution that would allow HABC to meet their goal. They also needed to understand the needs of the intended residents, the zoning restrictions, and leveraging opportunities.

All of the student finalists submitted innovative and intelligent plans for the project site, making the jurors’ task a difficult one. Secretary Donovan emphasized this point in his remarks before announcing the winners, also noting that the students demonstrated that they could, “. . .make a real and meaningful difference in the here and now.”

The runner up, receiving a $5,000 prize, was the joint team from New York University and Columbia. The team’s plan included three buildings with eight units each and featured innovative ideas such as a grey/black water system, a transportation center for residents, and a multi-seasonal gazebo.  The winner, receiving a $10,000 prize was the team from the Ohio State University. This team designed four buildings with six units each, a main circulation core between buildings, and common areas including a south garden and a north patio. The team also outlined an effective outreach plan and discussed the seven elements of wellness throughout their presentation.

The inaugural year of the Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition was a great success and we are already looking forward to next year.  Check the website for updates on the launch of IAH2015 this fall!

Claire Desjardins is a Program Analyst in the Research Utilization Division of HUD’s Office of Policy and Development and Research

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