Main Navigation


U architecture students will create efficient and resilient homes for the Salt Lake Valley affordable housing market.

By Ashley Babbitt, University of Utah College of Architecture + Planning

Design+Build Salt Lake is a newly formed partnership, program and immersive experience where University of Utah School of Architecture students will develop, design and construct affordable, energy efficient residential buildings – from the first sketch to the final construction – along local neighborhoods.

“Designing a building is one thing, transforming the design into a real and resilient building that is affordable is a very different challenge though,” said Jörg Rügemer, director of the program and associate professor of architecture. “This program offers participants the opportunity to explore the consequences of their ideas in direct relation to the build environment, social equity, global climate change, and feasibility, where each step has to withstand the critical arguments of a real client.”

As part of a design studio, taught in combination with architecture history and architecture technology courses, students have already completed the process of subdividing a city-owned piece of land – roughly 20,000-square feet – into three individual lots with high-performance houses at an affordable cost designed for each parcel.

“We have teamed up with Salt Lake City’s Housing and Neighborhood Development department to design, develop and build the Montgomery Triplets – three 1,500-square-foot single-family residences on a vacant lot in Poplar Grove in west Salt Lake,” said Rügemer. “The other program partner, Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity, will play a vital role in the realization of the studio projects.

School of Architecture research assistants are working to support HAND and Rügemer to secure a planned development and building permit in order to begin construction next summer. Habitat’s professional contractor will become the team’s supervisor.

“Design+Build Salt Lake is an important partnership that will encourage the next generation of housing innovations,” said J. Todd Reeder, capital asset development manager at HAND, Department of Community and Neighborhoods, Salt Lake City Corporation. “Taking small and odd shaped lots from the city inventory and envisioning innovative housing solutions will not only improve access to housing opportunities, but will also advance design standards in the community,”