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Submissions Are Now Open for Initiative 99

By ICON Team

Join the global architecture competition to reimagine affordable housing.

Today, ICON announced that submissions are now open for Initiative 99, the global architecture competition to reimagine affordable housing that can be built for under $99,000. With a total prize purse of $1M, ICON is committed to building a selection of the winning designs at multiple locations that will stand as a model for future affordable housing.

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. Architects from all over the world including firms, individuals and university students are encouraged to participate. To date, ICON has seen 57 different countries represented on the growing list of potential participants illustrating a universal need to create a new, disruptive solution for affordable housing.

“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.

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 consists 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; Michael Bell, Professor and Founding Chair, Columbia Conference on Architecture, Engineering and Materials at Columbia University; Shajay Bhooshan, Associate Director, Zaha Hadid Architects; Alejandra Guerrero, Deputy Director, CityLab and Department of Architecture, UCLA; Brett Hagler, CEO and Co-Founder, New Story; Mariana Ibanez, Chair and Associate Professor, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design; Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director of Bjarke Ingels Group; Christophe Lalande, Leader, Housing Unit, UN-Habitat; Michael McDaniel, Director of Design, ICON; Marc Norman, Associate Dean of the Schack Institute of Real Estate, New York University; and Melodie Yashar, Vice President of Building Design and Performance, ICON.

If you're an architect, designer, builder or just someone who cares, then join the mission and begin your application today!

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