2017 Housing Competition

HERE+NOW: A House for the 21st Century


Summer 2016

Competition Launch

May 15, 2017

Submission Deadline

Summer 2017

Winners Announced

Competition Overview

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) knowledge community is pleased to announce the HERE+NOW: A House for the 21st Century residential student design competition for the 2016-2017 academic year. Administered by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and sponsored by AIA, CRAN, this program is intended to provide architecture students, working individually or in teams, with a platform to explore residential architecture and residential architectural practice.


According to the US Census1, over 920,000 units of single family housing were completed in 2014. Many of these houses were built speculatively, as a generic prototype independent of context. Historically, Residential Architecture has represented a direct expression of culture and context, with local, vernacular elements informing the stylistic preference of the time. While the exterior of a house presents a more individualized image of its owner(s), the underlying design elements speak to broader cultural ideas of domesticity and family. Technological innovation, both in materials and systems, continues to advance the level of energy efficiency and resiliency in homes designed and built today.

This competition challenges students to envision a house for HERE+NOW: informed by context, culture, and vernacular, but fully embracing 21st century technology and ideas of domesticity.

Criteria for Judging

Submissions must clearly address the requirements of the program. In addressing the specific issues of the design challenge, submissions must demonstrate the proposals response to the following requirements:

  • A strong conceptual strategy resolved in a coherent, integrated design proposal
  • An understanding of the physical characteristics of the site and the local climate
  • A compelling response to the physical, emotional, and cultural needs of the inhabitants
  • A clear understanding and resolution of tectonic issues
  • An informed position on vernacular and historic precedent

Aaron Bowman
Liollio Architecture
(Charleston, South Carolina)

Patricia Seitz
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
(Boston, Massachusetts)

Emily Roush-Elliott
Delta Design Build Workshop
(Greenwood, Mississippi)


There is no maximum or minimum square footage requirement for any program area or the combined programs of the house. Students are encouraged to explore creative / innovative approaches to programmatic arrangement and distribution. Space allocation should be appropriate to the design proposal and the needs of the client.

Interior Program Spaces

  • Sleeping areas – minimum of 2
  • Bathroom facilities – minimum of 1 (toilet, lavatory, bath or shower)
  • Kitchen area for food preparation
  • Living area for relaxation / socialization

Exterior Program Spaces
Consideration should be given to the relationship between interior and exterior spaces of the home and what role (if any) exterior space should play in the design of the home. Transportation and connectivity should be addressed as an integral component of the overall design strategy. Appropriate space should be allocated for issues such as vehicle parking (bike / car / other) where required.


The design of the house for HERE+NOW should reflect an innovative, creative, environmentally responsible, and culturally sensitive approach to issues of domesticity. The proposal should take a strong conceptual position about housing and designing within a specific context.


Design proposals should reflect a clear conceptual strategy which is resolved in built form at a detailed level. There are no restrictions or limitations in the use of materials or building systems. However, projects should be developed with an integrated approach to materials and systems and should reflect an understanding of the characteristics, advantages, and limitations of the materials selected. CRAN is committed to promoting the value of design irrespective of style. Residential architects tend to work in a variety of styles based on input from clients, local building traditions, and regulatory requirements. As in professional practice, design proposals should responsibly address the needs of the client, context, climate, and culture of the area. Design proposals should be informed by historic precedent, but should represent contemporary ideas of domesticity and building science. Through renderings and elevations, the proposals should demonstrate qualities such as materials, texture, and color. Equal consideration should be given to the arrangement and articulation of exterior form and interior spaces.


The proposal is to be a 1 or 2 family dwelling on a site of your or your faculty sponsors choosing. Sites may be real or conceptual, but must be identified within the following parameters:

  • Sites must be identified within the (6) Climate Zones as outlined in the International Energy Conservation Code
  • Sites must further be identified as Rural, Suburban, or Urban

Refer to the International Residential Code and local zoning ordinances for information on height restrictions, setbacks, easements, flood, and life safety requirements. Consideration should be given to issues of Accessibility and the principles of Universal Design. For guidelines, refer to ANSI 117.1 (2009).


One of the critical components of practicing as a residential architect is client interaction. Unlike many commercial buildings, residential clients typically are the owners and occupants of the home. This personal connection to the work often leads to a very collaborative design process between the architect and the client. For the purposes of this competition, entrants may assume an individual or multi-occupant scenario based on the design concept and site constraints. Entrants may choose to further develop their client profile based on research into local demographics and population trends to better inform the design. Entrants must outline the client selection and rationale in the Design Essay.

Registration & Submissions


Because the AIA represents member interests of Architects primarily practicing in the U.S., the competition is open to students from ACSA Members Schools from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico only. The competition is open to all currently enrolled students. All student entrants are required to work under the direction of a faculty sponsor. Entries will be accepted for individual as well as teams. Teams must be limited to a maximum of five students. Submissions should be principally the product of work in a design studio or related class. Entries should be work principally developed for this competition over the course of the 2016–2017 academic year. Projects previously submitted for awards or competitions are ineligible.


A faculty sponsor is required to enroll students online (available at by March 29, 2017. An online registration form must be completed for an entire team or for each individual participant. There is no registration fee to participate in the challenge. Each registered participant will receive a confirmation email that will include information for final online submission. Please add the email address to your address book to ensure that you receive all emails regarding your submission.

The competition is open for currently enrolled students, only, and will require a faculty sponsor from an ACSA member school to enroll students by completing an online registration form (available at by March 29, 2017. Faculty sponsors must complete a form for the entire studio or for each individual student or team of students participating. Each student will receive a confirmation email that will include personal login information for final online submission. Students or teams wishing to enter the challenge on their own must have a faculty sponsor, who should complete the form.

During registration the faculty will have the ability to add students, add teams, assign students to teams, and add additional faculty. Registration is required by March 29, 2017, after which edits and additions can be made until a student starts a final submission, then the registration is not editable. Faculty may assign a “Faculty Representative” to a registered student, who will have access to change, edit, and make additions to the registration.

Faculty Responsibility

The intent of this competition is to provide an academically rigorous design challenge suitable for integration into the curriculum of an architectural design studio or course. Curriculum integration is not a requirement of competition guidelines, but is strongly encouraged. The administration of the competition at each institution is left to the discretion of the faculty within the guidelines set forth in this document.

Submission Requirements

Submissions must include, but are not limited to, the following required drawings:

  • Three-dimensional representations in the form of axonometrics, perspectives, montages and/or physical model photographs which illustrate the character of the project
  • Site Plan showing proposal in context with surrounding buildings or natural elements (asappropriate) that illustrate details of access and circulation
  • Building / Site sections which illustrate key aspects of site, context, and major spatial or programmatic elements
  • Floor Plans to show the interior spatial arrangement and program elements
  • Elevations demonstrating qualities such as materials, texture, and color.
  • Large scale drawing(s), either orthographic or three-dimensional, that illustrate innovative details or integrated aspects of design

Submissions must include:

  • Completed online registration, by a faculty sponsor
  • Four (4) digital boards at 20” x 20”
  • A design essay or abstract (500 words max) containing site selection, client description, and design concept.

Incomplete or undocumented submissions will be disqualified. All drawings should be presented at a scale appropriate to the design solution and include a graphic scale for reference. The site plan should include a north arrow.

Digital Submission Format

Submissions must be designed on no more than four 20” x 20” (portrait format) digital boards. The names of student participants, their schools, or faculty sponsors, must NOT appear on the boards.

Registered students are required to submit all boards uploaded through the ACSA website in Portable Document Format (PDF) –or– image (JPEG) files. Each digital board should be uploaded as an individual compressed file. Participants should keep in mind that, due to the large number of entries, preliminary review does not allow for the hanging end-to-end display of presentation boards. Accordingly, participants should not use text or graphics that cross over from board to board.

Design Essay or Abstract

A brief essay, 500 words maximum, in English, is required as part of the student submission describing critical elements of the design concept and relay information on site selection and client. Keep in mind that the presentation should graphically convey the design solution and context as much as possible, and not rely on the design essay to convey a basic understanding of the project. The names of student participants, their schools or faculty sponsors, must NOT appear in the design essay. This abstract is included in the final online submission, completed by the student(s) in a simple copy/paste text box.

Awards + Recognition

First, second & third prizes will be awarded, in addition to a selected number of honorable mentions, all at the discretion of the jury. A total of $6,000 will be distributed in the following manner to the winners:


in cash prizes


Faculty Sponsor

First Prize



Second Prize



Third Prize



Winners will be notified of competition results directly. A list of winning projects will be posted on the ACSA website, CRAN website and promoted to media outlets. First place winner(s) will also receive a stipend to attend the 2017 CRAN Symposium in Miami, Florida. All award-winning projects will be displayed and winners will be recognized at the 2017 Symposium.


Research is a critical component of any design solution in both the academic and professional context. Students are encouraged to research Residential Design and Construction in both historical and contemporary contexts in order to develop an understanding and appreciation of this specialized area of architectural practice.

CRAN website:

Books: Students and Professors are encouraged to review as many books as they see fit to inform their design. The following recommendations are a great place to start.

  • Architectural Graphic Standards for Residential Construction
  • Houses for all Regions: CRAN Residential Collection (American Institute of Architects)
  • Builder’s Guide (Building Science Corporation)
  • At Home (Bill Bryson)
  • Home: A Short History of an Idea (Witold Rybczynski)
  • Redesigning the American Dream (Delores Hayden)
  • Green Home Building: Money-Saving Strategies for an Affordable, Healthy, High-Performance Home (Miki Cook)
  • Green from the Ground Up: A Builder’s Guide to Sustainable, Healthy, and Energy-Efficient House Construction (David Johnston)

Professional Sponsor
Students are encouraged to explore opportunities to engage local CRAN members and design professionals as a resource to help inform their design proposals. The leadership of CRAN has developed a list of regional contacts to facilitate connecting students and design professionals (available upon registration). These individuals are available as a resource to support the work of the students and the development of design proposals.


ACSA Competitions