The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA) is proud to announce Union Studio Architecture & Community Design, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, as the distinguished recipient of the 2023 Gindroz Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing. The Gindroz Award recognizes excellence in the design and implementation of affordable housing in the classical tradition. The award panel considers the unique challenges of designing and building high-quality affordable housing, project contexts, community engagement, social impact, and commitment to building neighborhoods for all.
With offices in Providence and Philadelphia, Union is an award-winning, nationally practicing architecture and community design firm driven by its mission to use the power of design to enrich lives and strengthen communities. Since 2001, when Union was founded by Donald Powers (AIA, LEED AP, CNU), designing affordable homes and neighborhoods has remained central to its mission.
Comprising one-third of the firm’s work, the Union Affordable Housing Studio designs high-quality affordable homes which help transform fragmented urban districts into strong and resilient neighborhoods. The firm draws inspiration from historic communities in American cities and towns, delivering on average 200 units of affordable housing annually.
Union has demonstrated a year-over-year commitment to providing the same high level of intention and thoughtfulness to affordable and supportive housing design that it brings to all projects in their office. For this reason, the jury recognizes Union as a model practice for other architectural firms to emulate. The jury specifically noted Capitol Square, Trinity Place, and Cottages on Green as projects that illustrate the social impact that excellence in design has on the making of beautiful and enduring neighborhoods for everyone.
Union founder Donald Powers reflected on the honor: “It’s especially gratifying to be recognized by the ICAA, an organization committed to promoting and preserving the practice, understanding, and appreciation of classical design, for our work delivering attainable and affordable housing. Design matters—and it matters most to people who can afford it least. We are proud to bring the same seriousness of purpose to the design of modest housing that we bring to all our firm’s projects.”
Eric Osth, AIA, Chairman of Urban Design Associates, a member of the ICAA Board of Directors, and Chair of the Gindroz Award committee, remarked on this year’s award winner: “Affordable housing is one of the significant challenges facing our cities and towns today. The ICAA is pleased to recognize Union Studio as a practice that is ideally suited to meet those challenges with a talented team, and thoughtful, contextual design.”
ICAA President Peter Lyden said, “I am excited to see Union recognized as the recipient of the 2023 Gindroz Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing. The firm’s groundbreaking projects have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that affordable housing can and should be a beautiful and dignified addition to any community, and their impressive application of a wide range of vernacular and architectural forms has earned them deserved acclaim.”
The award is named for Raymond L. Gindroz, FAIA, co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Urban Design Associates, whose 50+ year career has been dedicated to improving the quality of affordable housing and the built environment. Over the course of his many efforts, Gindroz focused attention on the need to transform placeless public housing into high-quality urban neighborhoods. In doing so, he lobbied for policy reform and led design efforts that set the stage for this award today.
The ICAA is grateful for the support of the Muse Family Foundation for making the Gindroz Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing possible. Whitney McKnight, Executive Director of the Muse Family Foundation, said “The Muse Family Foundation believes everyone should have access to quality affordable housing. Thoughtful approach to design can provide the foundation to a successful development that honors the culture and community in which it lives. We are honored to recognize Union in providing attractive and inclusive developments that respect its community and tenants.”
The Gindroz Award panel included Eric Osth (Chair), Melissa Delvecchio, Rebecca Lefkowitz, Michael Mesko (Vice Chair), Whitney McKnight, Lyn Muse, Mallory Muse, and David Rinehart. In addition to formally recognizing Union, the ICAA will hold a case study educational program in Providence, RI focused on their work, and it’s impacts.