U of A Community Design Center receives Grand Award

A holistic design approach for a neighborhood in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, earned the University of Arkansas Community Design Center a 2013 Residential Architect Design Award.

The Community Design Center received a Grand Award in the On the Boards category for Building Neighborhoods that Build Social and Economic Prosperity: Manual for a Complete Neighborhood.

Thirty-four projects were selected from more than 600 entries for recognition in the magazine’s 14th annual design awards competition. This is the most comprehensive housing design awards program in the country, according to the magazine’s website.

Across 13 categories, this year’s jury selected 10 Grand awards and 23 Merit awards, plus one Project of the Year award. The winning projects appeared in the May/June issue of Residential Architect, and they are available at www.residentialarchitect.com.

This Grand Award is the third Residential Architect design award received by the Community Design Center, an outreach program of the Fay Jones School of Architecture.

The Kigali project, which features a proposed design for the Kimichanga neighborhood at 200 units per hectare, doubles as an instructional manual on hillside development for the Ministry of Infrastructure in Kigali. The challenge facing the ministry is to transition land settlement from informal patterns to formal neighborhood patterns based on closed-loop, sustainable principles responsive to low-resource environments, alternative energy production, regenerative landscapes, waste recycling and local food production. Urban redevelopment during Rwanda’s recovery since 1994 has been underwritten by foreign entities based on suburban and capital-intensive models unsympathetic to local settlement patterns.

“For fragile and severely resource-challenged environments like Rwanda, there is no choice. Holistic design thinking is the only option for recovering a sense of prosperity and sustained security,” said Steve Luoni, director of the Community Design Center. “Our proposal features advanced systems for building community resiliency that draw from the resources of the place, allowing residents to readily adapt to unforeseen challenges. Ironically, the design approach will eventually become the model for wealthy, but fragile, communities who share the same ongoing challenges from climate change, peak oil, food production, and the demand for a lower carbon future.”

This manual was a collaboration between the Community Design Center, the Fay Jones School, the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, and Peter Rich Architects. It also has won a 2012-13 ACSA Collaborative Practice Award and the Grand Prize in the 2013 Charter Awards, sponsored by the Congress for the New Urbanism.

Jury members for this year’s Residential Architect design awards competition were E.B. Min of Min|Day; Todd Hansen of Albertsson Hansen Architecture Ltd.; Robert M. Cain of Robert M. Cain Architecture; and Brian Messana of Messana O’Rorke. Cain is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Several other winners in the design awards competition have connections to the Fay Jones School:

  • Tom Kundig was the 2010 John G. Williams Distinguished Professor for the school. His Seattle-based firm, Olson Kundig Architects, won the Grand Award in the Custom Home (more than 3,000 square feet) category for Studio Sitges in Sitges, Spain.
  • Larry Scarpa was the 2008-09 Fay Jones Chair in Architecture. Brooks and Scarpa Architects of Los Angeles won a Merit Award in the On the Boards category for Make It Right in New Orleans.
  • Joel Sanders presented the Mort Karp Memorial Lecture, sponsored by Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, in the school’s 2012-13 lecture series. His New York-based firm, Joel Sanders Architect, won a Merit Award in the Renovation category for Bedford Residence in Bedford Corners, N.Y.
  • Brian MacKay-Lyons will present the Charles Thompson Memorial Lecture, sponsored by Cromwell Architects Engineers, in the school’s 2013-14 lecture series. MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects in Halifax, Nova Scotia, won a Merit Award in the Custom Home (3,000 square feet or less) category for Sliding House in Upper Kingsburg, Nova Scotia.
AuthorMatthew Petty