Students in a New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) architectural studio have a unique opportunity: design a group of townhouses that will actually be built by Habitat for Humanity next year. For the first time, this Saturday, November 7, Habitat Newark homeowners will have a chance to review the designs and offer advice to the budding architects on meeting the needs of the types of families who will actually be living in these homes once they are completed.
The team of fourth-year design students, taught by NJIT Professor Darius Sollohub with architect and engineer Jak Inglese, began working on their designs in September. On Saturday, they will welcome a group of homeowners to their studio who will give them practical feedback on their evolving designs.
The homeowners will be families currently living in homes built by Habitat for Humanity Newark, the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International.
By working on their projects with Habitat for Humanity homeowners, the students are getting the chance to take real client input and use it to create plans for practical buildings that will soon exist in wood and brick, not just on paper. They also must factor affordability into their designs, something professional architects have to do all of the time, but architecture students are rarely asked to do.
“This will come close to simulating the process of a professional architectural office,” Professor Sollohub said. The students are using state-of-the-art computer software to analyze the energy efficiency and cost of their designs. “Taking affordability into account is rare in architectural schools,” Sollohub added.
By designing well insulated single-family townhomes, instead of free standing houses, the course aims to maximize both affordability and energy efficiency. The use of shared walls furthers that goal by leaving fewer sides of the homes exposed to the elements. The project is also aimed at achieving high Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings for these homes, a designation which could earn grants from the state of New Jersey to underwrite the up-front costs of ecological design elements, such as solar panels and underground geothermal water tanks.
Representatives from Habitat Newark have been visiting the design studio every two weeks to discuss their needs with the students and offer input on the designs as they take shape. On Saturday, Habitat homeowners will get the chance to offer their input.
“These students will be able to get practical feedback from current Habitat families about their lifestyles and what their needs are,” said Jim Corbett, project manager for Habitat Newark. “It’s a great opportunity for both the students and these families to work together to create functional residences for hard-working people.”
Each of the thirteen students came up with a design for a group of homes that would be practical, affordable and energy efficient. After Habitat Newark chooses one of the designs or a combination of several, Inglese, an expert on affordable housing and LEED design, will become the architect of record and will complete the plans for the soon-to-be Habitat homes.
Once the plans are finished and all needed approvals have been obtained, the building will be completed in the traditional Habitat for Humanity method, using crews that consist primarily of volunteers, including the families who will eventually become the homeowners. All Habitat homeowners contribute 400 hours of “sweat equity” on their homes and make payments on zero interest loans.
The event will be held on the first floor of Weston Hall on the NJIT campus in Newark. The designs will be reviewed in the “storefront” - the lobby space immediately adjacent to Lecture Hall 1. Weston Hall is accessible from the ramp on Summit Street. The event will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude by noon on Saturday, November 7.
Contact: Marty Steinberg, Jaffe Communications, martin@jaffecom, 908-789-0700
Contact: Jean Llewellyn, New Jersey Institute of Technology, firstname.lastname@example.org, 973-596-3433
About Habitat for Humanity, Newark
Habitat for Humanity, Newark, founded in 1986, is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to building simple, decent homes for low income families in Essex County. Using volunteer labor and tax deductible donations of money and materials, Habitat for Humanity, Newark has helped 68 low income families move into new homes. Partner families contribute 400 hours of “sweat equity” in their home or other homes financed with zero interest loans.