First-time contributor here.
I've been following the awards discussion with interest and it brings back memories of my involvement in the AIA Housing Committee, the organization which preceded the HKC. I was active in the late 1980's and early 1990's and wanted to mention the issue of awards and recognition for "mainstream housing" was also a sore subject even back then.
The AIA Housing Committee met three to four times a year in different cities, we generally had around 20-40 attendees. At that time, the committee was somewhat bifurcated into three groups: (1) architects of custom homes, (2) architects doing government-assisted affordable or senior housing, and (3) architects of production housing for builders. The meeting themes tended to change as the type of architects in the leadership group rotated through.
During my year as chair in 1990, we initiated an awards program, which as I recall, was "The AIA Housing Committee Awards". The purpose was to include examples from at least the three types of practices mentioned above. We had a nice representation of custom homes, production houses and affordable/senior housing selected for awards, which were announced at a banquet held in Union Station in Washington.
One of the things we did was to have a three-person jury comprised of an architect representing each of the three practice groups to promote balance in the selections. Since this was a first time program, there was little to no publication of the winners. I am not sure of the legacy of this program, perhaps it evolved into the current award program, or maybe not.
Regardless, these are some thoughts on how to have a more diverse housing awards program:
1. Keep the entry fee low. Also, the submission requirements should not be burdensome. That will encourage more entries, which is critical.
2. Define the categories as clearly and with as much detail as possible, and have a wide variety of categories to include work from the varied practices of housing architects. I only saw four categories and some had only one winner, while the custom homes had many.
3. Have a small but balanced jury of housing architects recommended by the HKC and CRAN leadership.
4. In the call for entries, emphasize the diverse categories that will be considered in the awards as well as the names of the architect jurors.
Right now, frankly, it will be a major challenge to change direction for the AIA Housing Awards, since, as Andrew Porth points out, once the award program goes in a certain direction, such as modernism, expensive custom homes, etc., it discourages others from entering. That's where the program is right now.
James Wentling AIA
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