USGBC Introduces Multifamily Midrise Design Competition

The Multifamily Midrise Design Competition calls on participants to present a design for a mixed-use multifamily community in New Orleans.

The U.S. Green Building Council, the national, if not global force spearheading the charge to make sustainable development ubiquitous, takes the green cause another step further with the introduction of the Multifamily Midrise Design Competition.

The Multifamily Midrise Design Competition is open to those involved in the development industry from the student level to the professional arena. “The competition is focused on a relatively new rating system, LEED for Homes Multifamily Midrise, and we’re trying to let those who are designing and building projects like this know that the system is available,” Kelsey Mullen, director of residential business development USGBC, tells MHN.

Applicants must present a design for a mixed-use multifamily community at a designated location: New Orleans. The predetermined site in the Crescent City is a full city block that is the former home of the Myrtle Rosebella Banks Elementary School on Oretha C. Haley Blvd. USGBC’s selection of a location in New Orleans was not random. The ravages of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina continue to plague the city, and the organization has been an active participant in revitalization efforts in the years since the natural disaster left scores of leveled and damaged buildings in its wake. “USGBC has a commitment to New Orleans,” Mullen says. “For some time, we’ve done quite a bit of work in the city, and we continue to have a focus on New Orleans to help bring attention there.”

The organization advocates the city’s renaissance not just through development, but specifically through environmentally friendly development. Competition participants are presented with the challenge of designing a sustainable, residential mixed-use destination consisting of one or more four- to six-story buildings as a gut-rehab renovation and re-commissioning of the vacated school building. “The O.C. Haley corridor is an area that was once quite important to New Orleans,” he notes. “If there’s a neighborhood that could use more attention and revitalization, this is it.”

Those who take part in the competition will have quite a bit of room to play with, as the former three-story, 40,000 square-foot school building occupies less than 50 percent of the parcel, which is located between Thalia St. and Erato St.  All projects will have a focus on four pertinent issues, including the all-important storm resistance. It is imperative that the structures must be at a minimum 7 feet above grade and capable of enduring hurricanes with 150 mph wind. Second, designs must include landscape detail that is cohesive with the new buildings. Additionally, participants are required to integrate a plan for educating tenants on the principles of sustainability. And of course, the designs must adhere to guidelines of the LEED for Homes Multifamily Midrise Green Building Rating System. Any projects that reach the construction stage will have to meet LEED Platinum requirements.

USGBC is orchestrating the contest with Autodesk, a 3D design software firm that is serving as the sponsor. Applicants have until July 1 to register for the Multifamily Midrise Design Competition with a deadline of August 1 to submit entries. Judging activities will be an entirely paperless endeavor, conducted remotely, and the winner will be revealed in October at USGBC’s annual Residential Summit.

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