AIA/HUD Secretary Awards Recognize Two Outstanding Housing Projects

Washington, D.C. – June 2, 2015  – The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Housing Knowledge Community, in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), recognized two recipients of the 2015 AIA/HUD Secretary Awards.  The categories of the program include (1) Excellence in Affordable Housing Design (2) Creating Community Connection Award (3) Community-Informed Design Award (no projects were selected for this category this year) and (4) Housing Accessibility - Alan J. Rothman Award (no projects were selected for this category this year). These awards demonstrate that design matters, and the recipient projects offer examples of important developments in the housing industry.

The descriptions below give a brief summary of the projects. You can learn more about these projects by clicking on the name of the project/firm name. If you are interested in obtaining high resolution images, please contact Matt Tinder at  Email Contact.

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.

Step Up; Santa Monica 
Brooks + Scarpa

Step Up provides 46 units of affordable housing, plus support services and rehabilitation for the homeless and mentally disabled population. Passive design strategies were key to the planning and design of Step Up, resulting in a building that is 50% more efficient than a conventionally designed structure. These strategies included locating and orienting the building to control solar cooling loads and shaping and orienting the building for exposure to prevailing winds and for promoting natural ventilation. South-facing windows are shaded, and all windows are designed to maximize daylighting and natural ventilation. The building is loaded with energy-saving, sustainable devices and materials. Carpet, insulation, and concrete were all specified with recycled content. Compact fluorescent lighting is used throughout the building, and all windows are double-pane with a  low emissivity coating. Apartments are equipped with water-saving low-flow toilets and a high-efficiency hydronic system for heat.  Custom water-jet anodized aluminum panels on the main façade create a dramatic screen that sparkles in the sun and glows at night. The panels also act as sun protection and privacy screens. The material reappears as a strategic arrangement of screens on east- and south-facing walls, lending a subtle rhythm to the exterior circulation walkways and stairs. Asymmetrical horizontal openings on south-facing walls filter direct sunlight, provide unexpected visual depth, and create a sense of security for occupants. 

Category Two: Creating Community Connection Award - Recognizing projects that incorporate housing within other community amenities for the purpose of either revitalization or planned growth.

Co-op Plaza Redevelopment; Brattleboro, Vermont 
Gossens Bachman Architects

The Co-op Plaza has revitalized a key area of the city’s downtown and, through a public-private partnership between the co-op grocery store and a local nonprofit, provided 24 affordable apartments. The first two floors of the four-story building house the grocery store, its administrative offices, a bakery, and commercial space for local vendors. An accessible green roof juts from the first floor. Other community amenities include new parking areas, pedestrian walkways, outside seating, a café, and market areas. The stakeholders’ collaborative design process was critical in making the project a model for responsible building practices and smart growth. The site, contaminated by a dry-cleaning facility, was cleaned up, and the building was moved away from the nearby brook to protect the water from pollution and the building from flooding. Storm water runoff is treated and filtered by the green roof, permeable surfaces in the parking lot, and a 20-foot buffer strip in the new public park created along the water. Construction materials included locally harvested and milled flooring and slate siding manufactured in Vermont. Natural light floods the spaces, and the apartments have continuous fresh air ventilation with heat recovery. The co-op uses a solar photovoltaic system to generate electricity. Taken together, these features have cut energy costs per square foot by about 50%.

The jury for the AIA/HUD Secretary Awards include: Stephen Schreiber, FAIA, (Chair) University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Claire Desjardins, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Jon Dick, AIA, Archaeo Architects; Kathy Dixon, AIA, K. Dixon Architecture; Clair Enlow, Freelance Writer; Jody Mcguire, AIA, SALA Architects and Madlyn Wohlman-Rodriguez. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

About The American Institute of Architects

Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit


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