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Building Design + Construction

The best of affordable housing: 4 projects honored with 2014 AIA/HUD Secretary Awards

The winners include two dramatic conversions of historic YMCA buildings into modern, affordable multifamily complexes.

May 12, 2014


The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Housing and Custom Residential Knowledge Community, in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), recognized four recipients of the 2014 AIA/HUD Secretary Awards.

The categories of the program include Excellence in Affordable Housing Design, Creating Community Connection Award, Community-Informed Design Award and Housing Accessibility – Alan J. Rothman Award. These awards demonstrate that design matters, and the recipient projects offer examples of important developments in the housing industry.

“This year’s recipients are shining examples of how the latest innovations in design, materials and building techniques are not just for high-end housing but can also offer lower income families exceptional homes they can actually afford,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.

The jury for the 2014 AIA/HUD Secretary Awards included Nancy Ludwig, FAIA, (Chair), ICON architecture, inc.; David Barista, Building Design+Construction; Louise Braverman, FAIA, Louise Braverman Architect; Keith Fudge, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Paul Joice; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Jean Rehkeamp Larson, AIA, Rehkamp Larson Architects, Inc.

Category One: Excellence in Affordable Housing Design Award
Recognizing architecture that demonstrates overall excellence in terms of design in response to both the needs and constraints of affordable housing.
28th Street Apartments, Los Angeles
Koning Eizenberg Architects
 This project restored a 1926 YMCA building, designed by noted African American architect Paul R. Williams and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and added a new five-story building at the rear of the existing structure.

The original building and addition house two nonprofit organizations; one offers neighborhood youth training and employment programs and the other provides 49 units of affordable housing for youth leaving foster care, the mentally ill, and the chronically homeless.

Support services are offered on-site, and residents have access to a roof garden, laundry, and lounge.


Category Two: Creating Community Connection Award
Recognizing projects that incorporate housing within other community amenities for the purpose of either revitalization or planned growth.
Kelly Cullen Community, San Francisco
Gelfand Partners Architects; Knapp Architects
Photo: © Mark Luthringer


San Francisco’s historic Central YMCA (1909), a nine-story Classical building located in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, has been transformed into supportive housing for the homeless and a health center for residents of supportive housing and the homeless.

The adaptive use project created 174 micro-units of permanent housing and preserved the original sky-lit second-floor lobby, auditorium, full-size gymnasium, offices, and meeting rooms.

A new radiant heating system, energy efficient lighting and ventilation, and the use of healthy materials support sustainability and resident well-being.

Category Three: Community-Informed Design Award
Recognizing design that supports physical communities as they rebuild social structures and relationships that may have been weakened by outmigration, disinvestment, and the isolation of inner-city areas.
Kings Beach Housing Now, Kings Beach, Calif.
Domus Development; YHLA Architects

This project provides affordable workforce housing for low-income workers and families who previously lived in dilapidated, substandard housing in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Consisting of nine buildings located on five scattered sites, Kings Beach Housing Now provides 77 LEED Silver apartments that reduce negative impacts on the environment, reuse infill land, and preserve Lake Tahoe’s beautiful open spaces. In addition, an advanced biofiltration system naturally filters 100% of on-site storm water, which prevents sediments and pollutants from negatively impacting the lake.


Category Four: Housing Accessibility | Alan J. Rothman Award
Recognizing exemplary projects that demonstrate excellence in improving housing accessibility for people with disabilities.
Sierra Bonita Housing, West Hollywood, Calif.
Patrick Tighe Architecture

The design challenge of this project, the first all-affordable mixed-use development in West Hollywood and the first designed and completed according to the city’s new Green Building Ordinance, was to fit the desired 42 accessible units on a 13,000-sf site and within a 50-foot height limit.

The design used minimal exterior setbacks and reversed the typical unit layout, locating the bedrooms along the interior building courtyard and the living areas on the street side, to capitalize on views and natural light.

Passive solar strategies generate power for all of the building’s common areas, and a second system of rooftop solar panels provides hot water for the entire building.


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