City Design Center Overview
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Interactive Websites

Design Matters: Best Practices in Affordable Housing Catalog
Launched Fall 2001

The City Design Center has developed a new and pioneering Internet-based program, "Design Matters: Best Practices in Affordable Housing". Design Matters is the first Internet catalog of nationwide exemplary housing that is affordable for people with limited incomes. Design Matters illustrates that: quality design can be affordable and affordable housing can embody quality design.
Design Matters is being developed with the support of nationally recognized architecture firms, for-profit developers, community development corporations, representatives of governmental agencies, and others who are committed to functional and innovative affordable housing. The catalog documents case studies of permanent housing for independent living, built in the U.S. in the last twenty years; both new construction and rehabilitated projects of all sizes, all building and construction types, serving any type of household, and for any type of tenure, whether it be rental or ownership.
Catalog projects were selected by the City Design Center team and the catalog advisory committee from a pool of submissions identified through multiple means: a search of the print and digital media; through nominations from the City Design Center team and the catalog advisory committee; and a nation-wide open call for submissions. Catalog projects were chosen from this pool because they were exemplary in meeting one or more design objectives such as:
• Contain construction and life cycle costs
• Support household and neighborhood fit
• Adapt to household changes
• Be universally accessible
• Meet high aesthetic standards
• Promote energy and resource efficiency
• Ensure healthy indoor environments
• Support physical safety and security
Selected projects represent both the highest quality and range of solutions characterizing contemporary affordable housing design.
Extensive project information is documented in the Design Matters catalog including: the architect, developer, location, financing, type of household, building construction costs, type of tenure, owner/renter costs, number and type of building, units, and resident households, descriptions of key design strategies, and images to fully illustrate the projects.
The Design Matters catalog was launched in Fall 2001 with a national symposium and digital exhibit (see ‘Public Forums’ section). The catalog serves as a free resource for design professionals, developers, builders, community groups, consumers, policy makers, researchers, educators, and students - anyone interested in affordable housing.

chicago map with project location
Map of project domain:
The United States

Splash page of “Design Matters” web site.

Splash page of “Design Matters” web site.

Web Site

City Design Center Affiliated Faculty and Staff


Project Director and Catalog Editor

Roberta Feldman, Professor, School of Architecture, and Director, City Design Center

Project Team

Drew Browning, Associate Professor, School of Art and Design
Philip Burton, Associate Professor, School of Art and Design
Tasneem Chowdhury, Coordinator, Affordable Housing Program, City Design Center
Michael Iversen, Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Architecture
Elizabeth Kocs, Design Research Associate, City Design Center
John Shuler, Documents Librarian, UIC Library
Alex Stern, Associate Director, Adjunct Associate Professor School of Architecture, Technology Coordinator College of Architecture and the Arts


Dana Buntrock, former Assistant Professor, School of Architecture

Collaborating Community Organization

The Resurrection Project


Fannie Mae Foundation
Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
Private Donors
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