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Decade of Design: The AIA Global Urban Solutions Challenge - Deadline March 15, 2014
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Contributed By: The American Institute of Architects
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Decade of Design: The AIA Global Urban Solutions Challenge 
Targeted Research for Real-World Solutions to Urban and Regional Design Problems  

Deadline: March 15, 2014

Communities large and small around the globe face increasingly complex challenges to quality of life that require innovative solutions. The AIA has launched a long-term commitment it will develop with other partners within the Clinton Global Initiative to help address such problems. Decade of Design: The AIA Urban and Regional Solutions Challenge is conceived as a 10-year commitment to engage architecture schools and other stakeholders in research in a set of targeted areas to address problems facing, urban, suburban, and rural communities in the United States and beyond. Through the Decade of Design, the AIA and its partners seek to demonstrate the economic and social value of design and that design thinking can result in innovative solutions that significantly enhance a community regardless of its resources, location, or demographic make-up. 

To launch the Decade of Design the AIA is partnering with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the Clinton Global Initiative to solicit proposals for research projects in the second of a series of topic areas: resilient design. The proposed projects should document the positive impact of design interventions or propose solutions, based on past successes that can be readily implemented in the future. Through the projects, faculty, students, and practitioners will actively engage stakeholders to ensure that proposed design solutions are a good fit for the communities in which they will occur.

Resilient Design
Extreme weather events are causing unprecedented economic losses around the globe. As the world population continues to urbanize, the risk of natural disasters and their consequences is being concentrated in cities. The next generation of buildings and infrastructure must be designed for resilience, remaining habitable during extreme events.

This challenge hopes to identify innovative ways to advance the standard of practice in architecture and planning in the topic of resilient design. This area of research will advance the body of real-world, implementable solutions to promote resilient design and reduce risk to buildings and communities. Areas of exploration may include: achieving passive survivability, adapting or retrofitting existing buildings and urban environments, evidence-based design metrics, cost-benefit or fiscal analysis of specific design features or materials or the effect of density or development patterns on community risk. 

Expectations for Research Proposals
Through the Decade of Design initiative, the AIA and its partners seek to support innovative, practice-focused research within the academy and to challenge the development of innovative solutions. To that end, each funded project will require deliverables that will help communicate the impact of design to a broader audience. The AIA, with support from ACSA and other partners, plans to grow the Decade of Design initiative annually, with future grants that will build a database of research-based evidence. 

The AIA invites full and candidate ACSA member programs to submit proposals for research projects to be carried out in the 2014-2015 academic year. Proposals may be for new or ongoing projects led by qualified faculty and may include the participation of students, private-sector firms or organizations, or other partners. A total of $40,000 in funding is available, with a maximum award of $20,000 to any single project. Proposals must clearly address how the funding will be used address the Decade of Design’s goals of providing evidence for the impact of materials and design features that can make buildings and communities more resilient to disaster. If the funding will extend an existing project, the proposal must specify how this grant will extend or expand the project scope

The grants will be made through the AIA and will require an agreement setting out the commitments by the university and any partners involved. Leaders of each selected project will be required to provide an interim report and a final report during the grant period. See Proposal Requirements section at the end of this document for a detailed list of what should be included in a successful submission. 

Evaluation Criteria 
The Decade of Design Selection Committee will review proposals based on four criteria, noted below in order of importance: 
  1. Commitment of the university — The proposal must document commitment by faculty members and the architecture program to the design and implementation of the Decade of Design pilot project. 
  2. Well-developed program outline — The proposal must include a clear and defined approach to the research within the context of the Decade of Design initiative. The research project’s goals should be achievable within the one-year time period from May 2014-May 2015 and yield a deliverable suitable for broad dissemination. Universities should indicate to the extent possible any actual courses, funded research assistants, or other relevant institutional resources they plan to use to support the research project. 
  3. Description of deliverables — The proposal must include a detailed description of the intended research outcome, including format and medium of deliverable. 
  4. Ability of university to deliver services as proposed — The proposal must include the supporting data and justification, including a budget and brief curriculum vitae (no more than 3 pages) of participants. 
Decade of Design Selection Committee 
The proposals submitted for consideration will be screened for completeness. Qualified proposals will be reviewed by a Selection Committee comprising practitioners, educators, and emergency management, and resilient design professionals. 

Members of the Selection Committee may not submit proposals during the year of their service on the committee, and must declare any potential or actual conflicts of interest. Where conflicts are determined to exists, committee members will be asked to recuse themselves from discussions and decisions affecting the proposal. 

The AIA will award up to $40,000 in grants, with a maximum of $20,000 for any single project. Funds will be available during the 2014-15 academic year, in two equal installments: following completion of a research agreement and following acceptance of the January 1 progress report. A maximum of 15% of funds may be used for overhead and indirect costs. The AIA encourages programs to seek additional resources from other sources outside the program or institution to support the development of the program if necessary.

Original proposal in hard copy format by 5 p.m. EDT March 15, 2014. 

Proposals should be sent to: 
Cooper Martin
Director, Resilient Communities
The American Institute of Architects
1735 New York Avenue NW Washington, DC 20006
Fax: 202-626-7527 

If there are any questions, please contact Brooks Rainwater, 202-626-7442 or

Posted: February 20, 2014
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