HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 13-071
Brian Sullivan
(202) 708-0685
For Release
May 13, 2013

Three Developments in New York City and Massachusetts cited as national models

WASHINGTON - Three affordable housing developments are the recipients of the 2013 HUD Secretary's Housing and Community Design Award, each recognized for excellence in residential housing design. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) selected Via Verde-The Green Way in New York City; Community Learning in Leominster, Massachusetts; and New Accessible Passive Solar Housing, Stoneham, Massachusetts as national affordable housing models.

"These developments prove that you can push the boundaries of design while still creating something very special that folks can actually afford," said Donovan, himself a trained architect. "These projects took innovative visions from the drawing board and made them a part of how we live today."

The awards will be presented on June 21, 2013, in a special ceremony during the 2013 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Denver. The 2013 HUD Secretary's Housing and Community Design Award recipients are:

For Excellence in Affordable Housing Design - This award recognizes architecture that demonstrates overall excellence in terms of design in response to both the needs and constraints of affordable housing.

[Photo 1: Via Verde: New York City]
Via Verde: New York City

Via Verde - The Green Way: New York City ( Via Verde is a sustainable, urban, permanently affordable residential development in the South Bronx. It is an important component in the revitalization of a low-income neighborhood, reflecting a commitment to create the next generation of social housing that addresses poverty, health, and the environment. Situated on a former brownfield site, Via Verde consists of a 20-story tower, a 6- to 13-story mid-rise duplex apartment component, and 2- to 4-story townhouses. Its 222 apartments include 71 workforce housing cooperatives for residents earning 80 to 100 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and 151 low-income units for residents earning 60 percent or less of AMI.

The ground floor features retail stores, a community health center, live-work units, and a courtyard that leads to a series of terraced, south-facing roof gardens that create outdoor environments and a promenade for residents. The gardens offer contact with nature, and opportunities for gardening, recreation and social gathering, while providing storm water control and enhanced insulation from, and mitigation of, the urban heat island effect. Rainwater runoff is collected and recycled for irrigation. Photovoltaic panels provide 66 kilowatts of energy to power lighting in common areas. The panels, mounted on south-facing facades of the stepped roofs and on roof trellises, are an integral part of the architectural design. Via Verde is on track to achieve LEED-NC Gold certification.

The building envelope, a prefabricated rain screen panel system, provides a well-insulated, "breathing" enclosure with a contemporary aesthetic. Sunshades diffuse direct solar radiation. Large windows, typically on two exposures to promote cross-ventilation in apartments, provide abundant daylight, while ceiling fans and operable windows reduce air conditioning needs. Natural lighting and colorful finishes in stairwells promote use of the stairs, encouraging physical activity as part of New York City's Active Design program. Via Verde's high-efficiency mechanical systems, EnergyStar lighting and appliances, lighting controls, and low-flow plumbing fixtures reduce energy use by 25 percent.

For Community-Informed Design - This award recognizes design that supports physical communities as they rebuild social structures and relationships that may have been weakened by outmigration, disinvestment, and the isolation of inner-city areas.

[Photo 2: Community Learning Center: Leominster, Massachusetts]
Community Learning Center: Leominster, Massachusetts

Community Learning Center: Leominster, Massachusetts ( Sited near the center of the small, once-prosperous city of Leominster, the Community Learning Center operated for years out of a tiny apartment in a public housing development, getting at-risk kids on track to graduation and college. The Leominster Housing Authority received a grant to cover half the cost of a new 2,000-square-foot facility and made arrangements with the local vocational/technical high school to provide the labor to make up the difference. Plans were prepared by the high school drafting class. Realizing that licensed professionals were needed to ensure the success of the project, the architectural firm Abacus Architects + Planners was brought in to rethink the design and coordinate the efforts of the Housing Authority, the residents, the Learning Center staff, and the high school's Center for Technical Education.

The firm worked for three years with students, teachers, and development residents to modify the design, set up for construction, and build the project. The resulting design is a simple barn-like structure with operable south-facing windows for passive solar heating. The interior is an open space that one teacher can monitor, with "green" particle board partitions to provide individual study areas. From pouring the slab to hoisting the beams, the firm worked closely with the teenage crew to bring design sketches into reality.

When it became clear that the grant and student labor wouldn't cover costs and an appeal was made to the community, two dozen suppliers and builders stepped forward and contributed materials and labor. Many of those contributors were once in the Vo-Tech program and credit it with teaching them the skills that were the key to their success. Also not coincidentally, many of the students who built the Center had participated in the Center's programs when they were younger or were public housing residents. The completed building is thus a testament to the power of community.

For Housing Accessibility - Alan J. Rothman Award - The purpose of this award is to recognize exemplary projects that demonstrate excellence in improving housing accessibility for people with disabilities.

[Photo 3: New Accessible Passive Solar Housing, Stoneham, Massachusetts]
New Accessible Passive Solar Housing, Stoneham, Massachusetts

New Accessible Passive Solar Housing, Stoneham, Massachusetts ( New Accessible Passive Solar Housing units have been added to an existing public housing development in Stoneham, to boost the town's inventory of accessible housing. While all elements of the four-unit building and the site it occupies meet the Americans with Disabilities Act and Massachusetts accessibility requirements, other considerations - quality of life, connections to the outside world, and being responsive to the climate - also drove design considerations. The sloping topography was gradedto avoid ramps and double railings that cut off many accessible buildings from the surrounding landscape. Entrances are sheltered by simple pitched roofs that provide shade during the summer. The open living spaces are lit from above by clerestories and interior windows that bring the sun into every room, hallway, and bathroom so that artificial lighting is never needed during the day. Blue sky and green trees are visible in all directions. South-facing windows bring in the low winter sun, while deciduous trees and broad overhangs provide summer shade. High- and low-operable windows that reduce the need for air conditioning and radiant heat in the concrete floors allow the buildings to provide energy-efficient comfort.


HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDnews, on facebook at, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.


Content Archived: June 21, 2017