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KU team finalists in HUD Affordable Housing Competition

Friday, April 29, 2016

LAWRENCE — A team of architecture and business school students was among four national finalists who traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to compete in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2016 Innovation in Affordable Housing Competition.

This year KU was a finalist in the competition alongside Harvard University, the University of Maryland and the University of Texas at Austin. It is the second year in a row that a team under the direction of Associate Professor of Architecture Joe Colistra has been a national finalist in the HUD competition. KU is the only university to achieve this distinction. 

The competition challenges graduate-student teams to design a real life, affordable housing design and planning project. The program requires that the teams include two members who are studying subjects other than architecture. HUD’s Office of Planning Development and Research is the contest’s sponsor.

“HUD has set up this competition to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes. We are trying to tap the talents of top young people across the country,” HUD secretary Julián Castro said.

This year HUD and the Housing Authority in the city of Santa Barbara challenged the multidisciplinary teams to consider the complex challenges associated with either rehabbing one of its housing project structures or demolishing it and creating a new building.

The KU students’ solution balances increased density with open spaces that allow for social connectivity, exercise areas, playgrounds and a community garden. The addition of senior housing to the project creates an inclusive community where young families could utilize the support network an intergenerational neighborhood affords.

Team members from the Department of Architecture are Katie Beckwith, Perry; Doug Dawson, Austin, Texas; Ryan Lyssy, Lenexa; Culin Thompson, Aurora, Illinois, and School of Business student Colin Thomas, Baldwin City.

They did the project in the fifth-year level Social Entrepreneurship Design Studio taught by Colistra. Kirk McClure, professor of urban planning and a nationally recognized public housing expert, also advised the students.

“Working on this project gave me insight into the specific needs that families living in this type of housing have, and that the current model doesn’t really provide the right support network for them,” said Katie Beckwith. “You have to consider every aspect of their daily lives and look at them from a perspective different from your own to truly understand how to design a place that will empower them to be successful.”

"Without question our students' pioneering work is among the best in the country," said School of Architecture, Design & Planning Dean Mahesh Daas. "Through their achievements, we are being recognized as a formidable leader in regional and global urban design and research. The entire university can proud of this Jayhawk team’s second successive Final Four placement in this prestigious national competition."


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