Young Architects Studio Competition 2017

The Challenge

Equitable Pittsburgh: The Most Livable City for Everyone

Pittsburgh has been named the “most livable city” six times since 2000 by The Economist, Forbes, and Places Rated Almanac [1; however, in the past year Pittsburgh news has revealed how the Steel City is not treating all of its residents in equally. For example, insufficiency of affordable housing and the consequent gentrification demonstrates how the less wealthy portion of our population find Pittsburgh not that livable and are forced to move elsewhere. Nick Keppler on Public Source summarizes Pittsburgh’s present situation very well by saying that “rents are rising faster than renters’ income. New developments are outside most Pittsburgh residents’ price range. And the city has fewer income-restricted apartments than people who need them,” (read the full article and data here).

Back in 2014, Mayor Bill Peduto declared he wanted to bring 20,000 new residents into the city over the next 10 years [2]. So far, and more than often than not, trauma and tensions have arisen in many communities in which new development created conflicts and added anxiety in neighborhoods already weakened by less favorable economic situations. Peduto has recognized this problem and in 2016 said that “we have to plan for a variety of options that allows long-time residents to stay in their communities, while also creating new housing in the city.”

The challenge for Pittsburgh, though, is not only to provide affordable housing but also to foster fully equitable communities. Pittsburgh, and any city willing to be welcome new and existing residents, should assist all citizens in living and working with dignity while realizing their dreams and their hopes, no matter their income level. A truly livable city should allow equal access to resources, services, transportation, and education, and provide its residents with the freedom to make their own choices.

This year’s challenge is to design a project that will make a statement on the theme of “Equitable Pittsburgh.” Participants are asked to describe a problem that makes Pittsburgh and/or its surroundings less welcoming, and to present a project that tackles that chosen aspect of inequality. Design solutions can deal with, but are not limited to, affordable housing, public transportation, social services, public amenities, and racial injustice. Each submission should consist of a written statement that identifies the issue and a proposed design that addresses it. The design should fit in a generic volume of 20’-25’ x 100’, which is a typical Pittsburgh-area lot, and can be freestanding or imagined to be an infill between existing buildings. The proposed projects can be located in an existing place, or be an adaptable solution for any lot with similar dimensions. The final goal is to identify a variety of issues, tackled by solutions that can make Pittsburgh more equitable to truly be most livable city – for everyone.

The Successful Design Shall:

Provide a short written statement on the theme of the equitable city and design a congruent project addressing as many of the following points:

  • Equity
  • Affordability
  • Welcoming communities
  • Accessibility to services
  • Innovative policies
  • Smart construction methods

The design should be both memorable and impactful while promoting principles of sustainability, resilience, and diversity that create healthy environments for all residents and visitors. The proposed design is supposed to develop an appropriate character/place/ experience suited to Pittsburgh, and respect historic assets when applicable.


Enter the competition as an individual or create a design team! Individual entries must come from either an architecture graduate or undergraduate. AIA membership/AIAS is not required; however, individual entrants and team members must be located within AIA Pittsburgh’s 11-county area.

  • Architecture Graduates
    Individual architecture graduates, who have been out of school for no more than ten years, are eligible to enter this competition. Entrants may or may not be licensed to practice architecture.
  • Architecture Undergraduates
    Individual architecture undergraduates, who are currently enrolled in an architecture program, are eligible to enter this competition.
  • Design Teams
    The teams must be lead by an architecture graduate and/or undergraduate and can include graduates, who have been out of school for no more than ten years, or undergraduates in a design industry related field which can include, but is not limited to engineers, landscape architects, or artists.

Submit A Proposal


  • Friday, August 18th: Submission Request Forms must be received by AIA Pittsburgh via email or fax. Please submit by email to or via fax at 412.471.9501.
  • Friday, August 25th: Project submission must be received by AIA Pittsburgh via DropBox to be eligible for judging.



View a variety of past proposals from AIA Pittsburgh’s Young Architects Studio Competition (YASC) that focus on design solutions for urban voids and underutilized places and spaces along the riverfronts.