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ICON Projects

ICON Launches Global Architecture Competition ‘Initiative 99’ to Reimagine Affordable Housing

By Brooke Bauguess

With a $1,000,000 Prize Fund, Pioneer in Robotic Construction Calls on Architecture Community to Design Homes That Can Be Built for Under $99k

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AUSTIN, TX, MARCH 15, 2023 – ICON, the global leader in construction-scale 3D printing, has announced Initiative 99, a global architecture competition aimed at designing accessible, beautiful, and dignified homes that can be built for under $99,000.

Registration for the competition opens in the summer of 2023 and architects from all over the world including firms, individuals, and university students are encouraged to participate. The multi-phase, year-long competition offers a total prize purse of $1 million (USD). ICON has committed to building a selection of the winning designs at multiple locations to be announced in the future.

“We need a moonshot for affordable housing, and I believe Initiative 99 will be the most important architectural competition in history,” said Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO ICON. “The current affordable housing landscape seems to have been designed and built without taking beauty, aesthetics, comfort, sustainability, and resiliency as serious requirements. It’s time we attack this problem just as energetically as we’ve addressed other human challenges in the past.”

The vision of a home with construction costs under $99,000 has inspired and motivated city planners, developers, government officials and non-profit organizations for decades. And yet clear barriers subsist for realizing a truly affordable housing prototype at scale within communities that need them most. The current approach to homebuilding and addressing the global housing crisis is not working as more than 1.2 billion globally lack adequate shelter. Initiative 99 exists to unite the global architectural, design, and building community in a shared mission to build a better future for those that need it most.

Ballard continued, “With Initiative 99, we are changing the way that we talk about affordable housing. When we talk about affordable housing, the conversation is often depressing and so are the results. Our goal is that Initiative 99 would in turn create the conditions for affordable housing to be something hopeful, optimistic and exciting, and furthermore catalyzes the building of some really incredible affordable homes that just years ago would not have even been possible. The future could be a wonder, but we have to all work together to make it so.”

The Initiative 99 jury will consist of an expert panel of architectural practitioners, academic leaders, policy makers and non-profit organizations committed to realizing affordable housing solutions including: Michelle Addington, Architect and Dean of Architecture at University of Texas, Austin; Lucia Athens, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Austin; Brett Hagler, CEO and Co-Founder, New Story; Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director of Bjarke Ingels Group; Michael McDaniel, Director of Design, ICON; Melodie Yashar, Vice President of Building Design and Performance, ICON, and others to be announced

Registration for the competition opens Summer 2023 - sign up to learn more at

As an official 2023 SXSW partner, ICON will be hosting a featured program, ‘A Moonshot for Affordable Housing’ on March 15, 2023 at 2:30pm at The Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 W Riverside Dr. Austin, TX, with an official SXSW special event and concert to follow. Jason Ballard will be joined by Bjarke Ingels (BIG), Michelle Addington (UT School of Architecture) and Sarah Satterlee (Mobile Loaves & Fishes) for a dynamic conversation as they ignite a call to action on the future of accessible housing and share visions that could change the way we design and build for our global community. More details can be found at

About ICON

ICON develops advanced construction technologies that advance humanity. Using proprietary 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials, ICON is shifting the paradigm of homebuilding on Earth and beyond. For more information visit or follow the conversation on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube (@ICON3DTech).