Detroit, Mich. - An international sampling of architects and design students stepped up to solve the problem of Michigan's growing need for more diverse and affordable housing options to better fit the demands of urban lifestyles.
That need has come to be known as the missing middle.
The phrase "missing middle" refers to housing sites such as duplexes, fourplexes, bungalow courts, mansion apartments, live/work units and courtyard apartments. These types of housing have rarely been built since the early 1940s due to regulatory constraints, the shift to auto-dependent patterns of development, and the incentivization of single-family home ownership.
"As the demand for living in urban environments continues to strengthen across Michigan and throughout the nation, the need to accommodate the growing contemporary housing market has become much more apparent," said American Institute of Architects (AIA) Michigan President Jeffrey Ferweda, AIA.
In addition to AIA Michigan, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), Michigan State University Land Policy Institute, Michigan Municipal League (MML), Michigan Association of Planning (MAP), Michigan Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism (MiCNU), Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN), Habitat for Humanity of Michigan and the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) created the Missing Middle Housing Design Competition to help identify new and creative solutions satisfy this emerging need. A $10,000 cash prize for first place motivated submissions by architects and design students from around the world.
An elite group of industry leading judges announced the winners at the first-ever 2015 Missing Middle Housing Design Competition Awards Symposium which took place at One Woodward in Detroit. The five winners selected for their unique take on the missing middle challenge are:
- First Place Award: Niko Tiula, Tiula Architects LLC, El Paso, Texas and Helsinki, Finland
- Second Place Award: Mark Farlow, Amy Chesterton and Corissa Leveille, Hamilton Anderson Associates, Detroit, Michigan
- Third Place Award: Jennifer Settle and Brian Settle, Chicago, Illinois
- Fourth Place Award: Brandon Clear,Berrien Springs, Michigan
- Honorable Mention: Sang Oh Choo,d'studio architecture pc, New York, New York
Expanding the supply of "missing middle" housing inventory is long overdue to meet today's homebuyers' expectations and lifestyles, according to Daniel Parolek, founding principal of Opticos Design in Berkeley, California and a judge. Unfortunately, too many urban planners, architects and developers don't understand the changing tastes of today's homebuyers, he said.
According to a new report unveiled earlier in the day at the LOCUS Michigan Leadership Summit, there is significant pent-up demand for walkable urbanism in Michigan, evident by the rent and price premiums for walkable real estate that have emerged over the last several years.
The report - The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Michigan - examined the top seven metropolitan areas across Michigan, including Detroit-Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, Lansing, Jackson, Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Saginaw-Bay City-Midland, and Flint.
Gary Heidel, chief placemaking officer at MSHDA said, "We're seeing many walkable urban places across these Michigan cities offering a strong combination of both economic opportunity and affordability. As walkable development continues to grow, there is a need for more diverse affordable housing options to better fit urban lifestyles. That's why MSHDA helped create the Missing Middle design competition to raise awareness about the mismatch that exists between Michigan's housing stock and shifting demographics combined with the increased demand for walkable urban living."
The report calls for continued support and management by local leaders, patient investment capital, and federal, state and local government in order to continue the progress towards walkable urbanism throughout Michigan.
"It's time for our industry to rethink and evolve, reinvent and renew," Parolek said. "We need a paradigm shift in the way that we design, locate, regulate and develop homes. Missing middle housing is designed to meet the specific needs of shifting demographics and the new market demand."