Last week the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced this year's winners of the 2016 AIA/HUD Secretary Awards, an annual awards program that recognizes exemplary residential projects. The program is produced in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Two multifamily projects took home an award this year for the "Excellence in Affordable Housing" category and the "Creating Community Connection Award".

Lakeside Senior Apartments

San Francisco-based David Baker Architects was awarded in the Excellence in Affordable Housing category for their Lakeside Senior Apartments in Oakland, Calif. The 107,892-square-foot project replaced a blighted parking lot and provides 91 units of housing to very-low-income and special-needs homeless seniors who have struggled to find housing in the face of the Bay Area's rising housing costs. The building is located near many transit options to connect residents to downtown Oakland and San Francisco, and has a pending LEED Platinum certification.

"This project brings dignity and beauty to people in their twilight years, most of whom have had very difficult and stressful lives," said the jury.

Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative

Barry Rustin

Landon Bone Baker Architects was awarded the Creating Community Connection Award for the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative in Chicago. The locally-based firm converted an old housing project, which had been vacant since 2007, into 32 restored units with an additional arts center. The project revitalized the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood and provides mixed-income housing for area residents with two- and three-bedroom townhouse units. Four of the existing center townhouse units were taken out to create the glass-walled, 2200-square-foot Arts Center that serves as the focal point of the development. The arts center houses a dance studio, work and tech shops, and public meeting space, offering arts creation, education, performance, and display space for people of all ages. It is the first project in the nation to provide residencies for artists in public housing.

"A strong example of employing renovation verses obliteration in an existing neighborhood fabric," noted the jury. "Very visible and so empowering; this is part of something very large and momentous happening in Chicago right now."

“Each of these developments are innovative housing opportunities offering seniors and families alike a place to thrive,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro in a news release from the AIA. “These winners prove that affordable and accessible housing can become part of the fabric of any neighborhood and reinforce the principles of inclusiveness and opportunity.”