Ryan Chartrand

A team of Cal Poly students finished third in the 16th annual Bank of America – Low Income Housing Challenge after presenting their design May 4 in San Francisco.

The 14-member team designed a proposal to build 56 units of affordable housing in downtown Santa Maria with an emphasis on meeting housing needs of large families, single mothers and farm workers.

The contest was designed to “help spark innovative new approaches to affordable housing development,” according to a Bank of America press release.

“I’m very proud of what they accomplished,” architecture professor Daniel Panetta said.

Panetta served as a coach for the team that was comprised of students graduate and undergraduate students from a variety of majors.

The Cal Poly team submitted a 130-page report and gave a 30-minute presentation on the 52nd floor of the Bank of America Center.

Stanford University won the competition with a design focused on San Francisco’s homeless population. Their proposed building site was for a vacant lot previously occupied by a portion of the now-demolished Embarcadero Freeway.

UC Berkeley finished second with a proposal to build at the Glen Park Bay Area Regional Transit parking lot.

Panetta was unsure what set the Stanford design apart from the others, and is anxiously awaiting the judges’ debriefing to clarify their decision.

The judges of the contest evaluated financial feasibility, community acceptance and impact, eco-friendly characteristics and design innovation.

Panetta was most impressed with his team’s attention to detail and the quality of their final project, which the team started working on around the beginning of last winter quarter.

“Given the time frame our students had to work with, they explored much more in depth. They examined possibilities all the way down to the individual unit level,” Panetta said.

The judges were impressed with Cal Poly’s proposal because of its sustainability and focus on who the design was for.

“They worked very hard to find that out,” Panetta said.

The team worked with community members in Santa Maria, including City Council members and the People’s Self-Help Housing Corp.

This year marked the first time the contest judged projects on use of green building and environmental sustainability.

Panetta said the biggest challenge the team faced was coordinating the various aspects of the project and finding time to put it all together.

Cal Poly won the competition in 2005 with a proposal to re-design the Oak Park neighborhood in Paso Robles. The project featured a $56-million proposal that included the design, planning, construction, and financing for the replacement of 148 deteriorating townhouses.

That project was actually built, and students from this year’s team will present their designs next Tuesday in front of the Santa Maria City Council.

“Whether the city pursues the project is still a big if,” Panetta said.

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