A team of four Virginia Tech graduate students — with students spanning three programs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies — is one of four finalists in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Innovation in Affordable Housing graduate student design and planning competition.

The Hokies include team leader Jenizza Badua (master of urban affairs and planning), Hector Mendoza (master of urban affairs and planning), Amelia Hulshult (master of landscape architecture), and Jeremy Withers (Ph.D. in environmental design and planning). They are the first Virginia Tech team and the first from Virginia to be a finalist!

This year’s challenge was to design a mixed-income, mixed-use project on a 2.5-acre vacant lot owned by the San Antonio Housing Authority. The project had to contain at least 100 units targeted at workforce and lower-income households, located in a revitalizing urban neighborhood, with a budget of only $18 million. The team also had to design and plan around the many constraints imposed by a real-world site, from zoning regulations to climate considerations.

The Virginia Tech project, named AGORA for its emphasis on community, features expansive outdoor recreational and social spaces and on-site services, such as a community kitchen and daycare. The 120 parking units are located within the building’s footprint and topped by a green roof. The spaces are designed to be converted into additional residential units as autonomous vehicles reduce personal automobile dependence.

Read more at VT NewsSee full presentation of the teams here .