Design projects in Kigali and Little Rock recognized

The University of Arkansas Community Design Center recently received national accolades from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture for separate projects focused on housing design education in Arkansas and an international outreach effort in Rwanda.

The Community Design Center is an outreach program of the Fay Jones School of Architecture.

The Community Design Center won a 2012-13 ACSA Collaborative Practice Award for Building Neighborhoods that Build Social and Economic Prosperity: Manual for a Complete Neighborhood. This program was one of four this year to win this award, which honors the best practices in school-based community outreach programs.

This project was a collaboration between the Fay Jones School of Architecture and the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology in Rwanda. It involved the effort to construct a 2,000-unit neighborhood that reflects Rwanda’s new national sustainability initiative.

“Involving more than 1½ years now, this is an ongoing effort that has engaged various components of the school,” said Stephen Luoni, director of the center. “The basis of the Fay Jones School submission is a publication for the Housing Ministry of Rwanda that illustrates sequential development tactics for transitioning Kigali’s informal settlements to fully serviced housing and neighborhoods.

The project started in a fall 2011 studio lead by Korydon Smith, formerly with the Fay Jones School, and Peter Rich, an architect from South Africa who was the 2011 John G. Williams Visiting Professor in the Fay Jones School. Several students continued working on the project through independent studies in spring 2012 and through internships at the center in summer 2012. All of that work culminated with the publication of this award-winning manual that offers specific design solutions and housing prototypes for Kigali.

“Only 5 percent of Rwandans have access to credit, so development is driven by a do-it-yourself culture, which, in a rapidly urbanizing country, is particularly chaotic,” Luoni said. “We are hopeful that our partnership with our colleagues in Kigali will result in policy, urban and livability advancements. In the meantime, our students have enjoyed life-changing learning experiences.”

The project team included Luoni, Smith, Rich and Jeffrey Huber, assistant director at the center. Students in the fall studio were Samuel Annabel, Andrew Arkell, Ryan Campbell, Enrique Colcha Chavarrea, Long Dinh, Hanna Ibrahim, Kareem Jack, Tanner Sutton and Ginger Traywick. Arkell and Ibrahim were both Honors College students.

Marlon Blackwell, head of the architecture department in the Fay Jones School, wanted the visiting John G. Williams professor to undertake a project with local or global outreach. He and Rich discussed potential projects centered on present-day issues.

Blackwell said the fifth-year studio should tackle a larger initiative, as students begin their transition from academia to the professional world. In this studio, students worked with real-world design issues and dealt with stakeholders, just as they would in a firm.

Dean Jeff Shannon provided financial support for students to travel to Kigali for the fall 2011 studio, as well as for the development of the publication on the project.

Other team members were project designers at the Community Design Center; staff with Peter Rich Architects in South Africa; Tomá Berlanda and Sierra Bainbridge, faculty members of the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology; Paloma Vera, an architect with Cano|Vera Arquitectura, in Mexico; and students from the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.

The Community Design Center also won a 2012-13 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture/American Institute of Architects Housing Design Education Award for the Pettaway Pocket Neighborhood. This award recognizes the importance of good education in housing design to produce architects ready for practice in a wide range of areas and able to be capable leaders and contributors to their communities. The project was one of two this year to win this award.

The Pettaway Pocket Neighborhood project pioneers new urban neighborhood templates for affordable housing in Little Rock. The project team included Luoni, Huber and Cory Amos, project designer at the center.

“Since housing constitutes 70 percent of metropolitan land use, it is imperative that our next generation of designers thoroughly understand housing and its role in creating livable cities,” Luoni said. “The Pettaway proposal is particularly important for its recall of the lost art of composing middle-scale housing between four and 25 units. The ‘missing middle’ – courtyard housing, patio garden housing, mews housing, villa apartments and cottage courts, for instance – is key to reclaiming high-quality and walkable urbanism. Our students understand this, and we are proud of their accomplishment.”

This project has also received other recognition, including a 2013 Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design from the American Institute of Architects and a Grand Award in the “On the Boards” category in the 2012 Residential Architect design awards program.

Winning projects will be featured at the 101st annual meeting of the ACSA, planned for March 21-24 in San Francisco. All award winners will be published in the forthcoming 2012-2013 Architecture Education Awards Book.

More information about the 2012-13 awards is available at Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture website.

AuthorMatthew Petty