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AIA/HUD Secretary’s Awards

The Housing Knowledge Community of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), recognizes excellence in affordable housing architecture, neighborhood design, participatory design, and accessibility. Good design is a cornerstone of thriving homes and communities of all incomes and backgrounds. These awards demonstrate that design matters, and provide examples of important benchmarks in the housing industry.




Owners of structures and architects licensed in the United States may submit projects (located in the United States) of any size, budget, or style fitting the eligibility guidelines.

New construction, renovations, and restored developments in the United States are eligible. Only developments or projects completed after January 1, 2011, will be considered for this award.

Submissions to all award categories with the sole exception of the Community-Informed Design Award must include housing or a housing element. Also, submissions to all award categories must serve low- or mixed-income occupants and users (defined by either a minimum of 20 percent of occupants earning a maximum of 80 percent of the area median income, or by the funding sources utilized); the sole exception to this eligibility requirement is the Alan J. Rothman Award, though the attempt towards affordability is a selection criteria.

Note that HUD or HUD-originated funding is not a requirement for any submission, nor is the submission's use of traditional affordable housing finance mechanisms; developments that serve lower-income individuals with either market-rate or subsidized financing are eligible.

Projects submitted for this award will be subject to review and clearance within the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to ensure adherence to ethical practices and overall professional conduct. Projects that have previously received a HUD Secretary’s Award in any category are not eligible.

2016 Deadline & Entry Fee

The deadline for 2016 submissions has passed. Please check back in the Fall of 2016 for information on the 2017 program.

A non-refundable entry fee of $375 for members and $750 for non-members must be paid online.

2016 Jury


Jamie Blosser, AIA (Chair)
Atkin Olshin Schade Architects
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Ariella Cohen
Editor-in-Chief, Next City

Kevin Harris, FAIA
Kevin Harris Architect, LLC
Baton Rouge

David Lee, FAIA
Stull and Lee, Inc.
Roxbury Crossing, Massachusetts

Rachelle Levitt
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Washington, DC

Lynn M. Ross
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Washington, DC

Suman Sorg, FAIA
Sorg & Associates, P.C.
Washington, DC

Submission Preview

Carefully review the 2016 Submission Preview before submitting your payment. You can go back and edit your submission until the deadline.

Submission Criteria

Each entry will be judged for the success with which the project has met its individual requirements, with particular emphasis on design excellence. Sustainability, affordability, innovation, addressing both natural and built context, as well as meeting the specific needs of the client are criteria that will also be evaluated in selecting up to one project in each category. Awards may not be presented in all categories. Entries will be weighed on individual merit and not in competition with one another.

Projects are strongly encouraged to meet the energy reduction goals established in the AIA Sustainable Architectural Practice Position Statement and the AIA 2030 Commitment, which currently call for a minimum 70 percent reduction in energy use from regional baselines.

Describe project features that enhance environments performance of your project including strategies to:

•reduce total and peak energy loads for plugs, heating, cooling, lighting, and water heating
•integrate building systems
•provide on-site renewable and alternative energy systems and /or anticipate future and carbon neutral fuel sources
•use an established rating systems to measure performance

Additional criteria per category to be considered are:

1. Excellence in Affordable Housing Design Award - This award recognizes architecture that demonstrates overall excellent design responses to the needs and constraints of affordable housing. Any project in which a minimum of 20 percent of occupants are at or below 80 percent of area median income and/or utilizes any current affordable housing financing vehicle is eligible. Submissions must be for housing uses only; other kinds of projects are referred to the other award categories in this call. Submissions should describe the occupant income mix, as well as funding sources (if housing finance programs are utilized).

Submissions will be evaluated on the following features:
◦ Responsiveness to client and occupant needs.
◦ Increased affordability as demonstrated in occupant income levels.
◦ Provision of a long-term asset to the client, occupants, and the community.
◦ Demonstration of exceptional design skill.

2. Creating Community Connection Award - This award recognizes projects that incorporate housing within other community amenities for the purposes of either revitalization or planned growth. Submissions must be mixed-use (including housing) and mixed-income (with a minimum of 20 percent of occupants at or below 80 percent of area median income). Acceptable mixed-use developments can combine any public, private, or nonprofit use with housing; housing must be included as one of the uses. Submissions should describe the occupant income mix, as well as funding sources (if housing finance programs are utilized). If funded through a special production source that has design requirements (like HUD’s HOPE VI), the submission should show how the requirements were fulfilled and surpassed.

Submissions will be evaluated on the following features:
◦ Diversity and range of development of a mix of uses beyond housing.
◦ Diversity of users for non-housing functions and housing occupants, including age, ethnicity, physical ability, and income diversity.
◦ Development-wide design choices that support community interaction and enhance community networks (including public and alternative transportation access, public and shared-use spaces, safe and secure access and mobility, and linkage to cultural and historical surroundings).
◦ Demonstration of exceptional design skill.

3. Community–Informed Design Award - Community-informed or participatory design supports physical communities as they rebuild social structures and relationships that may have been weakened by out-migration, disinvestment, and the isolation of inner-city areas. The participatory design process establishes positive connections between and among residents, community stake-holders, local government officials, and designers—all while creating buildings and institutions with purposes that enhance community life.

This award recognizes projects that focus on the design process as much as the resulting physical structures. Housing is not a required component of submissions, though developments must be in lower- or mixed-income communities. All submissions must describe funding sources, neighborhood characteristics, and the community participation process in detail.

Note entries for this award do not have to be built/completed.

Submissions will be evaluated on the following features:
◦ Extensive participation of users and/or occupants in the actual design process.
◦ Documentation of participatory process and demonstration of architect’s or supporting organization’s facilitation skill.
◦ Inclusion of a diversity of community members and other relevant individuals in the design process. (Both neighborhood and participants’ demographic information must be described in the submission).
◦ Resulting design that supports the long-term use of the project by the occupants.
◦ Demonstration of exceptional design skill and interpretation of community needs.

4. Housing Accessibility— Alan J. Rothman - This award is named in remembrance of Alan J. Rothman, HUD’s late senior policy analyst on housing disability issues, who devoted his life to improving housing accessibility for the disabled. Alan, born with cerebral palsy, overcame many challenges in his life, and HUD and the AIA sponsor this award to commemorate him and demonstrate both organizations’ commitment to achieving housing accessibility for all Americans.

Projects eligible for this award must involve housing that demonstrates excellence in improving accessibility for people with ability constraints. Submissions must incorporate features that make housing accessible for either specific or general disability, particularly those features demonstrating universal design principles, with the maximum affordability. Submissions must include housing elements, though may extend beyond housing.

Note that there are no income requirements for this award.

Submissions will be evaluated on the following features:
◦ Responsiveness to users with particular physical disabilities and occupancy needs.
◦ Exemplary or visionary design and technological responses beyond existing legal requirements for accessible design.
◦ Ability for individuals with a range of physical capabilities other than the occupant to use the facility.
◦ Documentation of accessibility requirements (such as ADA, Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, etc.) and their effect on design.
◦ Extent to which affordable techniques are addressed.
◦ Demonstration of exceptional design skill.

Upload Requirements

Carefully review the required project and sustainable design information and the required upload materials before submitting your payment. You can go back and edit your submission until the deadline but no refunds will be issued for submissions that are disqualified, late, or incomplete.

Regardless of award recipient status please be aware that any material submitted has the potential to be used by the AIA and/or the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for their online Best Practices section. The Best Practices section draws attention to housing development projects that promote sustainability and affordability to benefit diverse populations. For more information, visit: HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I have to start and finish my submission in one session?
No. You can start your submission and come back to finish it before the deadline date of 5:00 pm Eastern Time.

What if I want to make changes to my entry after I have completed my submission?
You can enter the system at any time to edit or update your submission before the deadline date prior to 5:00 pm, Eastern Time.

How will I know my submission has been received?
Upon submitting your entry, you will receive a confirmation e-mail message containing your submission details.

What should I do if I did not receive a confirmation e-mail containing my submission details?

First, check your junk mail folder – the most likely problem is that your spam filter sent the e-mail from to your junk mail. You should change your account settings to accept future e-mail from us. If it did not go into your junk mail folder, please contact for assistance.

Begin Your Submission

Begin your submission.

Questions may be directed to

Past Recipients

2015 Recipients

2014 Recipients

2013 Recipients


Elizabeth Henry
Director, AIA Awards
1735 New York Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20006


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