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UT Architecture Team Wins HUD 2016 Innovation in Affordable Housing Competition

A team of graduate students from the UT Austin School of Architecture won the competition for its plan to redevelop a public housing project in Santa Barbara, California.

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AUSTIN, Texas — A team of graduate students from The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture has won the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) third annual Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition.

The team won the competition for its plan to redevelop a public housing project, Monteria Village, in Santa Barbara, California. 

School of Architecture graduate students Sarah Simpson, Megan Recher, Brianna Garner Frey, and Tatum Lau, along with graduate student Brett Clark from the McCombs School of Business, presented their final project April 19 at HUD headquarters in Washington, D.C. They defeated finalists from the University of Kansas, Harvard University and the University of Maryland at College Park.

“It’s amazing to watch our next generation create a plan for the future of affordable housing in a way that helps low-income families become self-sufficient,” said Katherine O’Regan, HUD’s assistant secretary for Policy Development and Research. “As we celebrate the third year of this competition, our hope is to continue this creative and forward thinking when it comes to affordable housing.”

HUD and the Santa Barbara Housing Authority challenged the teams to consider the complexities associated with rehabbing the current structure or demolishing it and creating new construction. Participants had to consider design, community development and financing elements to provide an all-encompassing plan and solution that would allow the housing authority to meet its goal of offering safe and sustainable affordable housing. Students also needed to understand the needs of residents and zoning restrictions.

The UT School of Architecture team will receive a $20,000 prize. The competition jurors praised them for their sophisticated site plan that connects homes and social space. The team also received high marks for their water conservation plans and their plans to include an education center that will provide school and job training to address the needs of the community.

The UTSOA team was advised by professors Elizabeth Mueller, Jake Wegmann, Dean Almy and Simon Atkinson.