Washington, D.C. -- The Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute and Klyde Warren Park have been selected as the 2018 recipients of the Collaborative Achievement Award, which recognizes and encourages distinguished achievements of allied professionals, clients, organizations, architect teams, knowledge communities, and others who have had a beneficial influence on or advanced the architectural profession. The recipients will be honored at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 in New York City.

For nearly a decade, the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute (AHDLI) funded by Enterprise Community Partners, has been a quiet but powerful force shaping social impact design. Modeled on the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, it assembles development and design leaders to focus on the ways in which architecture can produce more livable and sustainable housing for low- and middle-income people across the U.S. During its short life, the institute has had a profound effect on the affordable housing ecosystem and has cultivated partnerships with more than 70 nonprofit and community groups in several communities.

Whether it’s improving four-unit historic buildings that serve a primarily refugee neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., or single-family homes for 300 Native American families in Arizona, the AHDLI process begins with a two-and-a-half-day charrette bolstered by a rigorous design curriculum. In that short time, the institute can radically alter the trajectory of development projects while equipping a new class of leaders with the tools to champion design excellence. Surveys have shown that as a result of AHDLI participation the vast majority of participants work more effectively with designers, address design much earlier in the development process, and ask more of their architect.

Klyde Warren Park healed a rift in Dallas where a freeway once divided two vital sections of the city, overcoming an obstacle that many residents feared was permanent. The park, completed in 2012, required significant funding and buy-in from the public and private sectors, but the efforts resulted in 5 acres of activated green space that has redefined the city and its self-image.

Designed by The Office of James Burnett, Klyde Warren Park is perched above Spur 366 and caps what was once a high-speed concrete canyon. A feat of engineering, the park’s deck was constructed with more than 300 concrete beams and slabs, a combination that creates trenches that play the role of planting boxes for 37 native plant species and more than 300 trees. LEED Gold–certified, the park relies on a number of practical sustainable strategies resulting in a 40% reduction in potable water use. Its trees intercept nearly 25,000 gallons of stormwater runoff and sequester approximately 18,500 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

Recent studies have shown that the urban oasis has improved the quality of life for more than 90% of Dallas residents, and has generated more than $1 billion in new development within a quarter-mile radius since the project was announced in 2009. Further bolstering the city’s Arts District, the park abuts the Renzo Piano–designed Nasher Sculpture Center and the Dallas Museum of Art. The entire district saw its economic impact triple, due in large part to a significant increase in street activity since Klyde Warren Park’s completion.

The $97 million project was funded through a combination of city bond, state highway, and federal stimulus funds as well as $55 million in private donations. The project is now managed by the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helped secure early funding for feasibility studies and maintained its momentum during the depths of the Great Recession.

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