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February 17-19, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – AIA Minnesota’s Housing Advocacy Committee, which focuses  on issues  of affordable housing  in Minnesota,  will host the Search  for Shelter  Design Charrette this February  17-19, at Rapson Hall, College of Design, University of Minnesota  in Minneapolis.

Nearly 60 volunteer architects, landscape architects, interior designers, and students, will spend  the weekend creating  pro bono, design solutions  for up to ten projects  submitted by Minnesota  non-profit organizations that focus on issues  of affordable housing  and/or homelessness.

“It’s a weekend of collaboration between  agencies in need of design assistance and designers of all disciplines and levels. It’s truly impressive what we can accomplish together and turn over to organizations as tools to move their projects  forward,” said AIA MN Housing Advocacy Committee Co-chair, Claire Lonsbury, Assoc. AIA, architectural designer  at DLRGroup.

Design volunteers  work in teams to create viable, graphic solutions  and plans, to serve as visual tools for Minnesota  agencies to use to: 1) obtain further project funding, 2) promote  their organization, and 3) serve as preliminary development/building plans.

“As the charrette has evolved over the past  31 years, we’ve been responsive to the needs  of agencies submitting projects,” noted AIA MN Housing Advocacy Committee Co-chair, Corey Mollet, AIA, Senior Project  Architect at HDR. “This year, we have transit-oriented projects, urban farming and landscape architecture included in our mix as well as a project in Mankato, MN.    

The agencies that will receive assistance include:

  • Alliance Housing Inc.
  • Catholic Charities  of St.Paul  and Minneapolis
  • Friends of Farview
  • Midtown Greenway Coalition
  • Northside Residents Redevelopment Council
  • Partners for Affordable Housing
  • People Serving People

Search  for Shelter Schedule

Friday, February 17:

The opening-program kicks-off at 6:00pm with a welcome  from AIA Minnesota President, Meredith-Hayes Gordon,  AIA. Team leaders and  volunteers will provide inspirational instruction through a discussion of past successful projects and  key aspects of teamwork, timing and  expected outcomes. The agencies will also present their projects to the teams and  begin working on a design solution.

Saturday, February 18:

At 8:00 am, the design teams visit their project sites  if they are in close  proximity of the

Twin Cities and  available for touring.  This helps  them  in gaining an understanding of the site and  environs and often  highlights challenges and  opportunities that might  not have  been  conveyed on paper.

By late morning, teams return to Rapson Hall and  continue to refine their designs throughout the afternoon. Before teams head home  for the night, charrette and committee leaders will visit with the teams to check-in on their progress and  offer feedback to ensure they’re tracking to meet  the project presentation deadline.

Sunday, February 19:

The program concludes at 12:00 on Sunday, when teams present design solutions to the non-profit agencies and  agencies are able to ask questions about the pro bono designs.

Media and public are welcome to attend the opening program on Friday at 6:00 pm and closing presentations at 12:00pm  on Sunday. Media may observe teams on Saturday with pre-approval. Media should email Jennifer Gilhoi at to attend.

Search for Shelter

Learn  more  about the charrette at; watch  the 2016 Affordable  Housing Design  Award (AHDA) video on the Schmidt Artist Lofts for background on exemplary affordable housing at; and  view the Search for Shelter video to hear  about the three-day weekend design charrette history,  process and  outcomes at

Follow @aiamn  on Twitter, #SearchForShelter

AIA Minnesota

The American Institute of Architects Minnesota, founded in 1892, is dedicated to strengthening our communities, improving  our built environment, and  providing  exceptional design. For more  information on the organization and  Minnesota architectural firms, reference our Web site at