Calling All Architects: Design a Home for Families in Need

Make It Right believes that great design should be affordable for working families. That’s why we build affordable, sustainable homes for families in need, designed by some of the world’s greatest architects like Frank Gehry and Shigeru Ban. We’ve also had a lot of great architects volunteer to design new homes for us. That’s why we’re so excited to announce a new competition to design homes for people affected by natural disasters in New York, NY, Joplin, MO and New Orleans. Read more about the contest below.

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American Institute of Architects, Make It Right, St. Bernard Project and Architecture for Humanity Launch Housing Design Contest to Aid Disaster Survivors

Chicago, Ill. – June 13, 2013 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today announced a strategic partnership with Make It Right, St. Bernard Project and Architecture for Humanity to launch “Designing Recovery,” an ideas competition created to aid in the rebuild of sustainable and resilient communities. The competition, which is designed to help survivors of three recent natural disasters, was announced as a Commitment to Action at CGI America, an annual event of the Clinton Global Initiative focused on finding solutions that promote economic recovery in the United States.

The “Designing Recovery” competition will take place in three distinct settings – New Orleans, LA; Joplin, MO; and New York, N.Y. – where the non-profit partner organizations are already working to recover from previous disasters. The partner organizations will assemble a portfolio, or pattern book, of entries of single-family housing designs with the objective of improving the quality, diversity and resiliency of the housing in each community. The portfolios will be made public after the close of the competition in October and the houses that utilize submitted designs will be placed on Architecture for Humanity’s Open Architecture Network and Make It Right’s Laboratory, an online forum for green builders.

The competition focuses on three communities, but organizers hope designs will also aid other communities recovering from recent natural disasters, including Moore, Oklahoma.

A total of $30,000 in prize money will be divided equally among three winning designs – one for each location. While the competition will award prizes to these winning designs, any design that meets these criteria will be saved in the portfolio to provide each community with additional housing options to aid in its long-term recovery. The goal of the competition is to utilize as many competition entries as possible to construct affordable housing in each of these communities.

Entries must be judged feasible to be built through the development models of Architecture for Humanity, Make It Right and St. Bernard Project and must also incorporate the skills and input of a licensed architect. Organizers hope to be able to collect multiple designs that are suitable for use in each community’s ongoing recovery efforts. For more details on how to enter, click here.

“We believe innovative designs can help transform and revitalize communities recovering from disasters,” said Tom Darden, executive director, Make It Right. “We’re excited to share what we’re learning building Cradle to Cradle-inspired homes with other communities in need and we’re looking forward to seeing new ideas and design concepts.” 

“This competition is not about replacing what was lost, but building back something that is better,” said AIA President Mickey Jacob, FAIA. “Architects are uniquely qualified for this task, and we look forward to helping select entries that will establish a new standard for resilient, sustainable housing.”

“The cities of New Orleans, New York and Joplin are all stark reminders of the emerging threat of severe-weather disasters brought on by a changing climate,” said Eric Cesal, Director of Reconstruction and Resiliency at Architecture for Humanity. “Every city can learn from the successes and failures of these three cities and their response to disaster.  Designers and architects have a responsibility to do more – and to do better. We hope this competition will draw out the best and brightest new ideas for a world of new risks.”

“This design competition makes clear: there is not a zero sum relationship between cost, energy efficiency and sustainability,” said Zack Rosenburg, Esq., Director, St. Bernard Project. “Disaster-impacted citizens will have access to cutting-edge designs that will allow citizens to recover in a prompt, efficient, predictable – and sustainable – manner.”

Questions? Contact Make It Right’s design manager Jordan Pollard at

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  1. The idea is great, sadly we have no American licensed Architect on the back burner…
    All the best for the lucky ones who have… 🙂

  2. Will not burn down, earthquake can’t shake it down, lifespan measured in centuries, bugs will not eat it, super energy efficient, provides almost-absolute protection according to FEMA. Cost the same as traditional buildings.