2016 Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition: Monteria Village, Santa Barbara, California

By Gray, Regina | Cityscape, September 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

2016 Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition: Monteria Village, Santa Barbara, California


Gray, Regina, Cityscape


Introduction

Regina Gray

The Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Student Design and Planning Competition, now entering its fourth year of competition, invites teams of graduate students from multiple disciplines to submit plans in response to an affordable housing design issue of an existing home or residential building. The goals of the competition are to encourage research and innovation in high-quality affordable housing 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 includes notes about the challenges, solutions, and lessons learned by the first- and second-place student teams in 2016; the thoughts of the jury regarding how to recognize innovation in housing design; and the thoughts of an architect who helped the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) structure the competition on the definition of innovation in affordable design and its importance.

The IAH Student Design and Planning Competition is open to graduate students in architecture, planning and policy, finance, and other disciplines. The competition challenges the students to address social, economic, and environmental issues in responding to a specific housing problem developed by a public housing agency.

HUD partnered with the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB) to develop the 2016 challenge-to incorporate innovative design techniques to improve the quality of family housing at a site called Monteria Village. HACSB was interested in proposals for either gut rehabilitation (deep energy retrofit plus new amenities) of the existing buildings or new construction. The secondary interest of HACSB was to incorporate the provision of social amenities for the residents into the solution.

Monteria Village is a 56-unit multifamily housing development built in 1973. The students' task for the 2016 competition was to develop a site plan to improve and expand realistic, high-quality housing options for families living in the development. The students also had to account for the social and environmental needs of the residents, local zoning restrictions, and leveraging opportunities. To foster multidisciplinary efforts, teams were required to submit proposals that embodied innovative approaches in five general elements of design: (1) planning context and analysis, (2) building solutions and technology, (3) community development solutions, (4) site-specific illustrations of new development or redevelopment, and (5) schedule and finances.

The competition is designed in two phases. During phase I, a jury of five practitioners, planners, and architects evaluated first-round proposals, which teams from approximately 30 universities submitted electronically. From these submissions, the jury selected four finalist teams. During phase II, finalists further refined their plans-addressing complex issues, incorporating more detail, improving floor plans, and conducting additional analyses following the site visit to Monteria Village. The site visit enabled the finalists to expand on their original proposal and submit a revised final project. Several weeks after the site visit, all jurors and finalists traveled to Washington, D.C., for the final competition and awards ceremony event at HUD Headquarters on April 19, 2016. At this event, finalist teams presented their revised project solutions in front of the jury and an audience. Following the presentations, the jury selected the team from the University of Texas at Austin as the winner and the team from the University of Maryland, College Park, as the runner-up.

In the remainder of this article, the winning student teams, the jurors, and an architect share their thoughts about the competition. The students reflect on the biggest challenges the team faced and how they attempted to address them, opportunities to learn from mistakes, ideas of what innovation is, elements observed that provided value to the design of the project, and any tradeoffs that had to be made to get a feasible site plan. …

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