Cal Poly Students Tie for First in Low-Income Housing Plan Competition

SAN LUIS OBISPO – An interdisciplinary team of Cal Poly students took first place in the 2016 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Low-Income Housing Challenge (LIHC). The team included students from architecture, economics, finance, city and regional planning, and construction management.


While a Cal Poly team took first place in the conceptual contest for six of the last 11 years, this year’s entry, Sanctuary 6, was designed to be something that could actually be built to house veterans in the City of San Luis Obispo. The name Sanctuary 6 comes from the military adage “got your six,” which refers to standing back-to-back with a comrade to provide defense and support.


To develop the comprehensive proposal, the team partnered with more than 17 community groups including People’s Self Help Housing, the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, and Supportive Services for Veteran Families. Dozens of veterans and veterans’ service professionals gave direct feedback on what was needed for a development to be a successful community for veterans.


The project was designed around six key pillars specific to the veteran community: a veteran population, independence, support, camaraderie, connectivity and sustainability. The project combined innovative architectural and planning practices, including LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification, pet-friendly amenities, and fully accessible floor plans for residents with disabilities.


"Sanctuary 6 is positioned to be the first grassroots veteran housing project of its kind,” said Bryan Shields, architecture professor in Cal Poly’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design. “The level to which this project has engaged the community alone puts it on the cutting edge of community planning initiatives.”


Other finalists included UC Berkeley, which tied for first place; UCLA; the University of Washington; and the University of Arizona.


Cal Poly team members include architecture students Annelise Barbieri (Stockton, Calif.), Amy Rutty (Folsom, Calif.), Chloe Eitzer (Bethany, Conn.), Chris McCoy (Galt, Calif.), Jordan Keiser  (Muskego, Wis.), Mengdi Zhang (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Rodrigo Robles-Gonzalez (San Jose, Calif.);  city and regional planning students Justin Frentzel (Pittsburg, Calif.) and Emily Foley (Santa Clara, Calif.); construction management major Charlie Andrews (San Diego, Calif.); economics major Nathan Roberts (Orange, Calif.); and finance major Andrew Fortner (Los Osos, Calif.). Faculty advisors were Finance Professor Pratish Patel from the Orfalea College of Business and Shields.


“The team worked diligently and passionately on a project that can make a difference,” said Patel, “and team members will continue to work their hardest in the hopes that this project gets started.”


The Bank of American Merrill Lynch Low-Income Housing Challenge

The competition has challenged undergraduate and graduate students to envision new and innovative models of housing for low-to-moderate income residents for 25 years. A jury of affordable housing professionals with development, finance, planning, architecture and government expertise judges each proposal. Projects are judged in four categories: project finance; project design; community impact and support; and an X factor, which includes innovativeness, creativity and feasibility. 




View Sanctuary 6 proposal documents


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