Academic journal article Cityscape

2017 Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition: Woodhill Homes, Cleveland, Ohio

Academic journal article Cityscape

2017 Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition: Woodhill Homes, Cleveland, Ohio

Article excerpt

Winning Team: Rutgers University

Jane Allen, Chelsea Moore-Ritchie, Sharone Small, Kim Tryba, Christine Winter

Runner-Up Team: University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Bader Bajaber, Melissa Bloem, Emily Burrowes, Laura Devine, Prashanth Chamarti Rajendra Raju

The Jury

Beverly Bates, Michael Bodaken, Uwe Brandes, Linda Mandolini, Joe Reilly

Observations From the Field

Jeffery Patterson, Executive Director and CEO, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority

The views expressed in this article are those of the compiler and do not represent the official positions or policies of the Office of Policy Development and Research, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the U.S. government.


The Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Student Design and Planning Competition, now entering its fifth year running, invites teams of graduate students from various disciplines to submit plans in response to a housing design and construction issue identified by a selected housing authority. The goals of the competition are to encourage research and innovation in affordable housing design that strengthens the social and physical fabric of low- and moderate-income communities and to foster crosscutting teamwork within the design and community development process. This article reflects on lessons learned from this year's event and identifies opportunities for furthering engagement with public housing authorities (PHAs) on these issues. The article features feedback from the jury, discussions with the second- and first-place winning student teams, and observations from Jeffery Patterson, Executive Director and CEO of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CHMA), on the importance of creating better communities through a sustained commitment to creative design.

The IAH Student Design and Planning Competition welcomes graduate students in urban planning, architecture, engineering, finance, and many other disciplines to submit proposals. The competition challenges the students to address social, economic, and environmental issues in response to a specific housing problem developed by a public housing agency The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) partnered with CMHA in Cleveland, Ohio, to develop program requirements to assist students with developing their proposals. The site-Woodhill Homes-is a 478-unit multifamily development on the outskirts of downtown Cleveland. Although its proximity to the city should generate more economic opportunities for Woodhill Homes residents, the property is isolated from the surrounding neighborhoods, and inadequate transportation options hinder access to the urban core. CMHA challenged students to submit proposals that not only address the redevelopment needs of the property, but also to find solutions for enhancing connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods.

Woodhill Homes is one of the oldest public housing developments in the country. The distinction of being among the first also brings with it major challenges that the students were asked to address-a decaying landscape that is further hampered by harsh winters, stormwater damage, vandalism, and outdated building materials. The students' task was to develop a site plan that addresses badly needed renovations to the buildings around the development and in each unit. As is the case every year, students also had to account for the social and environmental needs of the residents, survey the regulatory environment, consider the conditions of the local housing market, and be familiar with the long-range comprehensive plan. Competition guidelines also required that teams submit proposals responsive to five general elements of design: (1) planning context and analysis, (2) building solutions and technology, (3) equitable development solutions, (4) sitespecific illustrations for new development or redevelopment, and (5) operations and finances.

The competition is designed in two phases. …

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