For Immediate Release: Monday, February 4, 2019                                  
General HPD Press Contact,


HPD Partners with American Institute of Architects New York to Unlock Vacant Lots through Innovative Design

‘Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC’ is a design competition to build affordable housing on small, difficult-to-develop City-owned lots throughout NYC

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) announced today the launch of “Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC,” a design competition that invites architects and designers to submit innovative proposals that address the challenges associated with developing of affordable housing on small lots throughout the five boroughs. The competition is part of the Mayor’s accelerated Housing New York 2.0 plan, and furthers the City’s efforts to unlock underutilized sites for new housing.

“Home to world-class architects and design professionals, New York City has long been a laboratory for innovation.  With this competition, we’re tapping into the creativity and expertise of the design community -- the best and the brightest -- to spark big ideas for some of the City’s smallest and most challenging to develop lots.  Through Housing New York 2.0, we set out to unlock the development of our remaining publicly-owned sites, and with Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC we are leaving no stone unturned in our effort to create more affordable housing opportunities for New Yorkers,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “I thank our partners at AIA New York for helping us to push the envelope in generating new design and construction solutions to meet the affordable housing needs of our great city.”

“I am excited to see the impact these compact sites can have on neighborhoods and the city at large. AIANY hopes that addressing these vacancies will elevate the experience of the entire block, catalyzing other communities to do the same. Soliciting ideas via this competition will create new opportunities for diverse firms to participate and allow the city to benefit from their talent and innovation,” said Hayes Slade, AIA, 2019 President, AIA New York.

Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC is open to the design community and there is no entry fee. Designs submitted through the competition will be evaluated by a panel of nine jurors, who are leaders in the fields of architecture, urban design, real estate development, and public policy. Members of the jury include:

  • Chair: Hayes Slade, AIA, Co-Founder, Slade Architecture; 2019 President, AIA New York
  • Deborah Berke, FAIA, LEED AP, Dean, Yale School of Architecture; Founder, Deborah Berke Partners
  • Claudia Herasme, Chief Urban Designer, NYC Department of City Planning
  • Nick Lembo, Chairman, Monadnock Construction, Inc
  • Ruchika Modi, Studio Director, Practice for Architecture & Urbanism (PAU)
  • Justin Garrett Moore, AICP, Executive Director, NYC Public Design Commission
  • AJ Pires, President, Alloy Development
  • Katherine W. Swenson, Vice President of Design, Enterprise Community Partners
  • Claire Weisz, FAIA, Principal in Charge, WXY Architecture + Urban Design

HPD and AIANY are inviting architects and designers to submit designs for small-scale urban infill housing within the City’s portfolio. The competition is comprised of two stages. Finalists for Stage I will be awarded $3,000 by AIANY, and their designs will be exhibited at the Center for Architecture. HPD will organize a series of workshops and networking sessions for finalists, in conjunction with AIANY, to facilitate the formation of development teams and aid finalists in developing their submissions for Stage II. HPD will then choose to designate one or more development proposals formulated in Stage II to be developed for affordable housing on City-owned land. Design proposals must all focus on a single site, but also include how they can be translated to develop affordable housing on 23 other City-owned sites located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx.

Teams must submit their designs by March 24, 2019, and first stage finalists will be announced in May 2019. Finalists’ designs will be featured at an exhibition at the Center for Architecture in the summer of 2019, and they will submit final Phase II development proposals in the fall. HPD expects to designate sites for development in late 2019.

“Given the ongoing housing crisis, this is a great opportunity to show how design can afford space for more homes in a city like New York. I look forward to seeing what our creative community generates and to celebrating those ideas that show how impactful architecture comes in all shapes and sizes,” said AJ Pires, President of Alloy Development.

“I’m happy to be part of the Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC competition jury. Everyone in New York is aware of the housing shortage; it will be exciting to see new creative ideas addressing the problem,” said Deborah Berke, FAIA, LEED AP, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, and Founder of Deborah Berke Partners.

“Utilizing small lots for any use is challenging, even more so for housing, and especially affordable housing which bears a constricted budget and highly specific design parameters. What would make this competition even more exciting for me is if the competitors would consider ways in which the constricted site boundaries can be used to their advantage, and the housing is designed at a contextual, human-scale which is sometimes lost in standardized, larger-scale affordable housing projects,” Ruchika Modi, Studio Director, Practice for Architecture & Urbanism (PAU).

“No matter how small, every site, and every home, has the potential to contribute to the betterment of our city. Big Ideas Small Lots NYC is a great opportunity to demonstrate that innovative housing design can make our city’s homes and neighborhoods more beautiful and sustainable and how architecture can contribute to a fairer and more just city,” said Justin Garrett Moore, AICP, Executive Director, NYC Public Design Commission.

“In terms of neighborhoods, this is a chance to prove that, when it comes to architecture, small is beautiful,” said Claire Weisz, FAIA, Principal in Charge, WXY Architecture + Urban Design.

“I am very excited to tap into the deep creativity of designers to uncover potential in places that have been overlooked before. New York City’s dynamism and attractiveness is enhanced by our constant desire to innovate as we address the needs of our diverse communities. I look forward to design ideas that help us expand our housing supply while enhancing our collective urban environment,” said Claudia Herasme, Chief Urban Designer, NYC Department of City Planning.

For more information about the competition and the jury, visit


The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and diverse, thriving neighborhoods for New Yorkers through loan and development programs for new affordable housing, preservation of the affordability of the existing housing stock, enforcement of housing quality standards, and educational programs for tenants and building owners. HPD is tasked with fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York Plan which was recently expanded and accelerated through Housing New York 2.0 to complete the initial goal of 200,000 homes two years ahead of schedule—by 2022, and achieve an additional 100,000 homes over the following four years, for a total of 300,000 homes by 2026.  For full details visit and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.

About AIA New York
Founded in 1857, AIA New York is the oldest and largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The Chapter's members include 5,500 practicing architects, allied professionals, students, and public members interested in architecture and design. AIA New York is dedicated to three goals: design excellence, public outreach, and professional development.