Knowlton Students Win 1st Place in HUD Design and Planning Competition

Three students from the Knowlton School’s architecture and city and regional planning sections were among a five person team that won first place in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) inaugural Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition.  The Ohio State University group was one of four finalist teams, beating out competing proposals by the runner-up New York University/Columbus University collaborative team, a separate New York University team and a team from the University of Michigan. The Ohio State team will receive a $10,000 award and the joint team from NYU-Columbia University will receive $5,000.

The Ohio State team was comprised of Donald Wiggins, Jr. and Shanell Davis (John Glenn School of Public Affairs), Meghan Kaple (Knowlton School, City and Regional Planning), Brad Hosfeld and Kevin Schildwaster (Knowlton School, Architecture). The team’s proposal for the Peter DeBaun House in Bergen County, NJ called for rehabilitating the Revolutionary War-era structure into new, permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans. Highlights of the proposal, titled DeBaun Grove, include:

  • sustainability broadly defined: fiscal, environmental, civic, and social
  • 4 2-story residential buildings, each containing 6 units of 650 square feet
  • 50% of the residential units to be ADA compliant--well above the 5% requirement
  • a theme which reflects the role and resiliency of the Peter DeBaun House over time:
    • evolution  into 21st century facility: through the addition of a gym and physical therapy training center 
    • unique daytime and nighttime spaces: the south garden(day time space) will capture the morning sun and the north patio( night time space) will serve as a place to allow residents, visitors, friends, and families to congregate
    • transformed landscaping: from a manicured look to a natural, organic feel
  • residential buildings designed with lightwells to bring more light to the units and reduce winter heating cost
  • a funding structure designed  to ensure the project remains affordable and fiscally sustainable; securing funding through the use of Low Income Housing Tax Credits and a grant made available by the NJ Affordable Housing Trust Fund Balanced Housing Program
  • additional financial support through a HUD Supportive Housing Program grant, Federal Historic Tax Credits, state Historic Tax Credits, Capital Preservation Grant, 1772 Foundation Grant, and grants from numerous banks in the NJ area which donate to veteran issues
  • the creation of a community living room within the same space as a Civil War era fireplace; the original beams of the house would be exposed; the 2nd floor apartment would be transformed into an open office space
  • the creation of a Public Engagement Strategy comprised of six steps: Inform, Engage, Incorporate, Build, Celebrate, and Honor  

HUD’s new Student Design and Planning Competition is intended to encourage research and innovation in affordable housing, to raise practitioner and future practitioner capacity, and to foster cross-cutting team-work within the design and community development process. Multi-disciplinary graduate student teams were asked to create innovative solutions involving design, planning, and finance.

In this inaugural competition, HUD and the Housing Authority of Bergen County(HABC) challenged these graduate school design teams to consider the complex challenges associated with preserving a historic structure, producing affordable housing, and offering a supportive environment for the homeless. These student participants considered design, community development, and financing elements in order to provide an all-encompassing plan and solution that would allow HABC to meet their goal. They also incorporated the needs of the intended residents, the zoning restrictions, and leveraging opportunities.

For more information about the Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition, visit the competition website.

First slideshow image provided courtesy of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.