Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce

Breaking New Ground is an international design and ideas competition addressing the urgent affordable housing needs for farmworker and service worker families in the Coachella Valley, where efforts to improve living conditions suffers from a lack of funding and coordination. Going beyond design, the competition seeks to envision new precedents, mechanisms, and policies for affordable housing implementation and development, with implications for California and the nation.

At the competition’s conclusion, The California Endowment and County of Riverside will work together to build an affordable housing project based on the winning entries. The winning team may also be selected to participate in the design and construction of the new project.

The Coachella Valley is an important agricultural and tourist center, generating $4 billion in economic activity annually, and relying on both permanent and seasonal workers for both industries. However, the region currently lacks affordable housing and thousands of people live in non-regulated mobile home parks. The competition seeks to find holistic housing solutions, implementing architecture, policy and financial solutions.

The competition begins October 21 with online registration beginning before this in early October (TBA). On December 19, at the end of Round 1, the jury will select four finalists from the student division and four from the open division. The four open division finalists will then move to round two, which runs from January 22 and concludes with live presentations and closing celebrations on March 30-31. Open and student finalists will share in an unrestricted $350,000 award. Competitions offering monetary awards of this scale are usually for major civic or cultural institutions, such as museums or airports. Breaking New Ground is the first competition to offer this level of award for an affordable housing project to help people in need. You can review all the details in the competition's official website.

Breaking New Ground Jury Panel:

  • Dana Cuff, cityLAB director, UCLA faculty, PhD Architecture (UC Berkeley), BA Psychology and Design (UC Santa Cruz)
  • Kevin Daly, FAIA, Principal and Founder of Kevin Daly Architects, UCLA Professor
  • Susan Szenasy, Publisher/Editor in Chief, METROPOLIS
  • Paul Ainger, Development Solutions Manage, Rural Community Assistance Corporation
  • Victor Becerra, Director, Community Outreach Partnership Center at University of California, Irvine
  • Javier F. Gutierrez, Esq., Real Estate Attorney, Stuart Kane LLP
  • Michele Hasson, Regional Director, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
  • Ilene Jacobs, Director of Litigation, Advocacy, and Training, California Rural Legal Assistance
  • Stephen G. Larson, Partner Arent Fox, Former US Central District Judge
  • John F. Mealey, Executive Director, Coachella Valley Housing Coalition
  • Miguel A. Vazquez, Healthy Communities Planner, Riverside County Department of Public Health
  • Laura A. Whittal-Scherfee, Deputy Director, CA Dept. of Housing and Community Development

You can follow the competition on Facebook or Twitter.

About this author
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "Breaking New Ground: Designing Affordable Housing for the Coachella Valley Workforce" 07 Oct 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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