Branding the American House

Branding the American House

March 10: Deadline for electronic entries and registration to the AIA no later than 9 a.m. EST

Sponsor: American Institute of Architects, Committee on Design

Type: Open, international, ideas


This international competition is open to all registered architects, intern architects, students, and allied design professionals

Nonrefundable registration fees per entry:

AIA members: $100

Non-AIA members: $150

AIA associate members: $75

Architecture students: $30

Language: English


The jury may select first-, second-, and third-place winners and up to three honorable mentions. All winners and honorable mentions will receive one (1) complimentary registration to the COD spring conference Design Parallels, in Detroit, April 3–6. The first-place winner also will receive a $1,200 travel stipend to the conference. Likewise, the second-place winner receives a $750 stipend and the third-place winner a $500 travel stipend.


March 10: Deadline for electronic entries and registration to the AIA no later than 9 a.m. EST

March 18: Jury held

March 19: Winners notified

April 3–6: Winners attend the COD Spring Conference in Detroit for presentation of awards

May 15–17: Exhibition of winners at the AIA 2008 National Convention in Boston

The AIA Committee on Design (COD) 2008 Ideas Competition provides an opportunity to examine parallels in design professions with the automobile industry through a sketch design problem. The architectural design and automotive design disciplines have many parallels, as well as unique differences. One of these major differences is the singular nature of architecture versus the mass production of automobiles. Whereas architects generally deal with individual clients and specific places, creating a one-of-a-kind response to needs and desires, automobile designers respond to the needs and desires of a broad group of consumers and must create vehicles that will be desired by perhaps thousands. But regardless of whether one is designing a singular response or a mass-produced product, architects and automobile designers create, not only to make this world a better place, but to make it a more beautiful place.


Glen LeRoy, FAIA, dean, College of Design, Lawrence Technological University

Paul Urbanek, AIA, LEED AP, vice president of design, SmithGroup

Peter Horbury, executive director of design, North America, Ford Motor Company

Wendy Fry, ASLA, The Mannik and Smith Group

Tom Buresh, associate dean for academic affairs, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban

Planning, University of Michigan


The challenge of this competition is to design a single-family home for a prescribed typology of American family, paralleling the methodology used by automotive designers.

The Ford Edge with HySeries Drive™ is one of Ford Motor Company’s alternative fuel concept vehicles. It is designed to fit a general buyer typology. The challenge of this competition is to evaluate that buyer persona and design a home for that family and their new Ford Edge with HySeries Drive automobile.


Meet the family: Demetrio (36) and Tuwa (32) are an adventurous couple that maintains an active relationship with their two adopted children, Carolina and Shannon, and loves to travel. Both are college graduates. Demetrio is an entrepreneur and jazz musician; Tuwa is an automotive designer. Their family income is $100,000.

Family activities: The family likes riding bikes and walking though their neighborhood. Weekends consist of biking through parks in the morning after dropping the kids at gymnastics and swimming, shopping in the afternoon, an evening movie, and dinner at a new location. Vacations include camping trips, kayaking, and hiking. Demetrio and Tuwa love to review the books and pictures their children study in school. They love technology and purchasing the latest gadgets.

Values and attitudes: Demetrio and Tuwa are trendsetters; not followers. Ethics and integrity are important aspects they share with their children. They volunteer for community service as a family to demonstrate teamwork, leadership, and lifestyle goals. They are active in the local recycling co-op because they believe in a sustainable future. Their vehicle is an extension of their lifestyle. Their home should be likewise.

General space needs: The home should provide a living space for family members to interact with one another. The master bedroom should include space for working and relaxing. Each child should have their own personal space. The vehicle should be given a special space in the design of the home. Site

The family purchased a small lot in Dearborn, Mich. for their new home. It is an infill lot in one of Detroit’s older suburbs that is also home to the Ford Motor Company. It is a rectangular lot, 50’ wide x 156’ deep. Setbacks are typical of city lots: 30’ front yard, 10’ rear yard, 5’ side yard. The lot fronts on its east side along Fomoco Avenue, with a 50’ frontage. Please note the actual site is fictional. A site plan (PDF) has been included to assist you.


Awards are determined according to how persuasively the entries demonstrate these criteria, subject to the interpretation of the judges:

* Design excellence: Entries should exhibit a creative and compelling design.

* Acknowledgement of automobile to lifestyle: Why would this house design be right for the owners of this vehicle? How does the design address the attitudes of environment, cultural, and social characteristics that define the proposed buyers of the vehicle.

* Sustainable design: Both automobiles and housing have a responsibility to our sustainable commitment. How does the design address these issues?

* Creative presentation: Marketing and sales are important aspects of automobile design. How does this design complement the overall creative image of the vehicle? Innovative presentation and sketch ideas are encouraged.

* Design process: Entrants are asked to describe in their own words how the proposed design expresses the criteria.

Submission Requirements

Each submission must use the PowerPoint slide template and is limited to two slides. To receive the template, send an e-mail to with the subject line, COD Ideas Competition 2008 PowerPoint Template Request. The first slide should contain all anecdotal information and a summary of the design idea. The second slide should contain images, drawings, or sketches to illustrate the design concept.


Each entry must consist of one PowerPoint file (containing two slides), a completed registration form (PDF), and a nonrefundable payment of the registration fee.

Payment by credit card: Submit the PowerPoint file and registration form with credit card information to

Payment by check: Submit the PowerPoint file and registration form to Then mail the check with a copy of the registration form to the following address:

The American Institute of Architects

1735 New York Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20006

Attn: COD Ideas Competition 2008

Questions: Contact Marsha Garcia, 202-626-7488