UMD Team Makes “Final Four” in HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Competition

By Maggie Haslam / Mar 8, 2022 / Updated Apr 12, 2022

Team looks to transform a historically Black neighborhood into a cultural/civic hub for existing residents

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View the 2022 HUD IAH Final Presentations and Awards Ceremony on April 13th at 1:00 pm. Register here.

An interdisciplinary team of graduate students from UMD’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation has landed one of four finalist slots in the ninth annual HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning (IAH) Competition 2022, beating out 28 teams from some of the most formidable graduate-level programs in the United States. UMD will go up against two teams from the University of California, Berkley and a team from the University of Kansas in a virtual competition to vie for the winning title. Team Maryland is Samuel McCormally (M.C.P.), Maria Fernanda Farieta (M.ARCH, M.C.P.), Donald Nuzzio (MRED), Danielle Abe (M.ARCH, M.C.P.) and Fadi Alajati (M.ARCH, MRED). Maria Day-Marshall, director of the Real Estate Development Program and ZDS Architecture & Interior Design’s Rob McClennan, AIA, are the team’s advisors.

“It is a thrill to see our students return to the IAH Final Four in 2022,” said Dr. Dawn Jourdan, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “Competitions like IAH are just the place for our students to show off the interdisciplinary, collaborative work we foster at Maryland.”

The IAH competition is designed to build a future of practitioners eager to fulfill the need for affordable, sustainable housing. It challenges interdisciplinary, graduate-level teams to address the social, economic and environmental issues that surround a real-world housing problem in the United States, by creating innovative and original solutions through development, design and finance. This year’s competition asks teams to design a mixed-use development on the site of one of Atlanta’s oldest Black neighborhoods, Buttermilk Bottom, demolished by the city in the 1940s to make way for the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlantic Civic Center, which shuttered in 2014. The students’ challenge is to return the area to its former cultural and civic glory, while using adjacent property to develop a residential community—a chance to preserve the historical significance of Buttermilk Bottom as they envision a renewed and equitable future. Students are up against several obstacles, from typography to marrying high density development with the existing neighborhood. The team will refine their project and produce more detail in the weeks leading up to the competition, which includes a site visit in early March.

“From the beginning, our objective has been to design for the people who live there,” said Danielle Abe. “The site could very easily be turned into a tourist trap. It’s been our highest priority for it to be something that serves the neighborhood.”

Students submitted schematics and a preliminary pro forma for the first round in late January, with judges advancing the four best to the finals. While UMD’s design is under wraps until the final competition, the team hopes that their response to the site’s context results in a community-driven, sustainable and supportive housing proposal.

"Our students have again risen to the rigorous challenge put forth by HUD to deliver a truly outstanding first submission,” said Day-Marshall. “Each of them has leveraged their own expertise to add something special to the team’s vision for the Atlanta site, and I think that’s what sets Maryland apart year after year. We are very proud of their success!"

Maryland has a long and successful history with the IAH Competition. The University of Maryland teams were finalists in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020, placing second in 2016 and 2020 and winning the competition in 2018 and 2019. The winning team will be awarded $20,000.

“As finalists, in our eyes we’ve already won,” said Danielle Abe. “This is a project like no other, where every single person feels so critical and puts so much into it. We have a great team and feel so lucky to work together.”

Learn more about HUD’s IAH competition.