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Expired Competitions

First Step Housing

Sponsors: Common Ground Community; Architectural League of New York

Theme: Providing housing to a broad cross-section of homeless


Type: Open, one-stage

Entry requirement: One(1) 30”x40” board

Eligibility: Only members of the two sponsoring organizations and

friends of jurors are excluded

Fee: US$20.-


11 July 2003. Registration deadline

11 July 2003 Questions deadline

25 Aug 2003 (10am) - Submissions due

Prizes: Four(4) winners will be chosen. Winners will each receive a

cash prize of $2,000 and will be engaged to develop their proposals for manufacture and installation at the Andrews House, a lodging house on the Bowery in Manhattan, for which they will be paid a design fee. Challenge: Create a cost effective housing unit that is modular and easily replicable throughprefabrication and/or a kit of parts approach, and that offers the possibility of individualization by the end user.

All questions and communication regarding participation in the

competition should be directed via email by July 11, 2003 to:

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Welcome to our competition and we wish you good luck.

Download the Competition Instructions as an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file

Description of First Step Housing


Common Ground’s ten years of work serving the homeless has revealed that there are many individuals whose needs are not being met by permanent supportive housing. For these homeless individuals, the mere idea of "permanency"—signing a lease and paying a monthly rent check—is daunting. Many do not use the city’s shelters, sometimes in resistance to rules and sometimes for reasons of safety and pride. To reach these individuals with a viable alternative to life on the streets, Common Ground developed First Step Housing. The First Step model is a development of the lodging hous—a historic New York housing typology—and will offer private, safe, clean and affordable short-term accommodation to individuals who are currently homeless and transitioning to housing, individuals facing homelessness, or those who have rejected or failed in other programs. In addition, First Step will make available numerous services which will be optional to the residents, including linkages to housing and employment resources, medical help and substance abuse treatment. This approach to engage the service-wary sector of the homeless population was shaped through information gathered in interviews and focus groups with over 200

homeless men and women and many outreach staff working directly on the streets.

Based on these interviews and focus groups, Common Ground’s vision for First Step Housing concentrates on the Bowery neighborhood and the relationships among remaining lodging houses. Lodging houses once existed by the dozens in New York and other cities, offering basic, inexpensive sleeping "cubicles" on a night-by-night basis. New York’s Bowery alone had nearly 100 such modest hotels in the early part of the twentieth century. Common Ground believes existing lodging houses could all incorporate the First Step living quarters, and that each of the independent lodging houses could offer different services that would be available to all First Step Housing residents along the Bowery, creating a cohesive support community within the neighborhood. During a resident’s 21 day stay in First Step Housing, he will have the opportunity to meet with case workers who will assist him in moving from the First Step transitional housing topermanent housing, including buildings operated by Common Ground.

The Site

To house this new initiative, Common Ground purchased The Andrews House, a partially occupied lodging house located at 197 Bowery in Manhattan. In 2003, Common Ground leased two floors of the Prince Hotel, another lodging house one block from the Andrews. Common Ground is also pursuing the purchase of another lodging house on the Bowery for this initiative.

The scope of the renovation at the Andrews House, which will be carried out by Oaklander Coogan Vitto, P.C., includes the construction of three additional partial floors, new accessible bathrooms and showers on each floor, and the addition of a ground floor entry vestibule (for access to a new elevator). In addition, the 213 existing cubicles (currently 30 SF) will be replaced

with 146 new First Step units (60-88 SF). Send or deliver entries to:

First Step Housing Competition

The Prince George Hotel

14 East 28th Street

New York, NY 10016 (located between 5th and Madison Avenues)

For information and competition guidelines, go to:

Open Design Competitions for Low & High Rise

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