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The 2016 Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition: University of Texas at Austin Wins First Place; University of Maryland at College Park Is the Runner-Up

HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti poses with the winners of the 2016 Innovation in Affordable Housing competition.
The University of Texas at Austin team won the competition by including innovative features in their proposal such as a Family Opportunity Center, increased open space, and a sophisticated stormwater infiltration system.

The 2016 HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Student Design and Planning Competition came to a close on April 19, 2016, at HUD Headquarters. This year’s competition was based on a housing project selected by HUD’s partner for IAH 2016, the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB). The site, Monteria Village, is a 56-unit multifamily housing development that was built in 1973 in Santa Barbara, California. This year’s challenge was to develop a site plan to improve and expand quality housing options for families living in the complex. IAH student participants were required to identify innovative approaches to site planning that address the social and environmental needs of the community and that HACSB could adopt in the future. The students also needed to take into account the needs of the intended residents, local zoning restrictions, and leveraging opportunities.

During the first phase of the competition, a jury of five practitioners, planners, and architects narrowed the submissions down to four finalist teams: Harvard University, the University of Kansas, the University of Maryland at College Park, and the University of Texas at Austin. The finalists visited the project site in March, during which students walked through Monteria Village; spoke to residents; and explored the area’s amenities, which include a community garden. The students then used their visit to the site and the comments provided by the jurors to refine their plans during the second phase of the competition, before the final event.

HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research kicked off the final event of the competition with a seminar featuring practitioners’ perspectives on the development and preservation of affordable housing called “Practical Insights Into Affordable Housing, or How to Keep Your Head in the Clouds and Your Feet on the Ground.” After lunch, the four finalist teams presented their ideas before a panel of jurors at HUD Headquarters in Washington, D.C. HUD staff, invited guests, and members of the public attended the event, with many others nationwide viewing the presentations via webcast. Each student team devoted 20 minutes to its presentation and then spent 10 minutes answering questions from the jury.

The University of Maryland at College Park team and HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti stand in front of the 2016 Innovation in Affordable Housing background.
The University of Maryland at College Park team came in second place in the competition with a multidisciplinary plan for Monteria Village that emphasized green design and resident health.

The four student teams delivered outstanding plans for the project site, making the jurors’ task of choosing a winner and a runner-up a difficult one. Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research Katherine O’Regan praised the teams for their impressive presentations and highlighted the need for a multidisciplinary approach to planning and design. HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti, who announced this year’s winners, emphasized the importance of partners in the field of affordable housing. “While HUD programs have made large impacts in communities across the country, we cannot do it alone,” said Deputy Secretary Coloretti. “We need capable partners throughout the industry and we need a constant stream of new ideas, such as those presented today.”

IAH jurors selected the team from the University of Maryland at College Park as the runner-up. The Maryland team’s plan emphasized buildings that incorporate green design features such as a clerestory roof and windows that remove heat during summer, passively reducing the need for air conditioning in Santa Barbara’s hot climate. In addition, the students introduced high-quality, durable, and low-toxic building materials that reduce operating and maintenance costs and enhance resident health. The jury was particularly impressed with the green roofs that were integrated into all eight Monteria Village residential buildings. As the runner-up, the Maryland team received a $10,000 prize.

The University of Texas at Austin was selected as the winner and took home the grand prize of $20,000. Meet Monteria, the team’s proposed site design, adds 39 units for families, with 11 percent of the units set aside for very low-income families. One feature that captured the attention of the IAH jury was the space devoted to a Family Opportunity Center, which will include an Education Center to be developed in partnership with Santa Barbara City College. The reconfigured open space allows for enhanced recreation opportunities, face-to-face interaction between residents, and a sophisticated stormwater infiltration system.

After announcing the results and taking photographs with the winning teams, Deputy Secretary Coloretti reiterated the importance of a multidisciplinary approach for addressing the real-world challenges in affordable housing development and preservation. Looking ahead to 2017 and the fourth year of this planning and design competition, we anticipate building on the lessons learned, and we look forward to working with our partners again in this exciting effort.