Architecture students win JP Morgan Chase Community Development Competition

A design proposal by 10 architecture students from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts has won the 2008 JP Morgan Chase Community Development Competition.

Over the past several months, a class — led by Derek Hoeferlin, lecturer in architecture — has partnered with the Good Work Network, a nonprofit business incubator in New Orleans, to create redevelopment strategies for the Franz Building, a historic retail space at 2016 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans.

Two graduate students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning also developed a corresponding business plan.

The first-place award of $25,000 will provide seed money for the Franz Building renovation, which is scheduled to begin later this year. When completed, the 6,800-square-foot structure will house storefront tenant spaces as well as a new headquarters, including offices and classrooms, for the Good Work Network. Last year, the group provided training and support services to more than 600 low-income and minority entrepreneurs.

“This project not only will help transform O.C. Haley into a vibrant arts, cultural and retail district, it will also make business incubation a permanent asset in the neighborhood,” said Phyllis Cassidy, executive director of the Good Work Network.

The Chase competition, now in its 14th year, called for proposals that are both buildable and sustainable and that meet a prevalent community need in low- and moderate-income areas. Particular consideration was given to teams developing properties within the New Orleans Office of Recovery Management’s 18 targeted redevelopment zones.

The WUSTL/MIT/Good Work Network proposal — which incorporates LEED-certified green building components as well as passive conservation strategies — was chosen from a field of nine university/nonprofit teams, each focusing on a different neighborhood within New Orleans.

A second prize of $15,000 was awarded to Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans, which worked with the New School in New York. A third prize of $10,000 was awarded to the Pontilly Development Association for a senior-living facility project developed with Tulane University.

Other competing schools were Harvard University, Loyola University New Orleans, DePaul University, the University of New Orleans, the University of Minnesota and Hunter College.

In early April, the Good Work Network received a $40,000 grant from the Greater New Orleans Foundation. In addition, the Franz Building was recently a finalist for a National Trust for Historic Preservation grant.

“Winning this competition was a remarkable way for these senior architecture students to cap their education at WUSTL,” Hoeferlin said. “Not only did they put together a competition submission of professional level, but they also got to present in front of a multidisciplined jury in New Orleans and even were interviewed on local news after winning.

“It was truly an interdisciplinary collaboration that married sophisticated architectural design with a carefully crafted business plan, all with close input from an informed client,” Hoeferlin said. “I think this proves that the interdisciplinary and community-engaged model may be the credible trajectory for future architectural design studios.”