22 / BUILDING DIALOGUE / September 2022 ELEMENTS Affordable Housing Beyond Shelter: Affordable Housing that Helps Residents A s cities thrive and area median in- comes climb, housing affordability is becoming increasingly challenging. Nationwide, the most alluring markets are the most likely to see millions of people struggling to afford a home, for-sale and rental dwellings in- cluded. Denver is a prime example of a flourishing mar- ket experiencing housing unaffordability. Metro Denver holds the dubious honor of being the fifth least affordable housing market in the country. As such, many design firms and professionals in- volved in affordable housing development are contin- uously exploring and employing creative, innovative and cost-effective ways to achieve quality affordable housing. • “We can do more together.” One key compo- nent to solving affordable housing is working in part- nership with cities and organizations dedicated to this challenge – because when providing dignity-af- firming shelter for those in need, all housing develop- ment entities must collaborate in tandem for the best possible outcome. Our founder, John Cuningham, instilled the sim- ple idea that “we can do more together,” which has formed Cuningham’s Live Studio model of incorpo- rating client, entitlement specialists, neighborhood groups, consultants, and contractor participation. Us- ing this model, we have been creating exceptional af- fordable housing in the Denver metro area for nearly 10 years. In 2021, we completed our third partnership proj- ect with Northeast Denver Housing Center to create Central Park Urban Living in Denver – the very first 100% affordable condominium complex in Colorado since the passing of the city and state condominium legislation. Developed through Denver’s Affordable Housing Program, the project serves households at 60% to 80% of the city’s median income. With all 132 units con- tracted, Central Park Urban Living gives the opportu- nity of homeownership to many who would other- wise be unable to purchase a home. Additionally, we have three other projects with NDHC currently in the pipeline. • Design that meets human needs. Meaningful affordable housing involves more than merely con- structing units. To achieve the ultimate goal of elevat- ing the lives of residents in these communities, the buildings themselves focus on the experience of the resident through design for the senses. The term “affordable housing” tends to evoke im- ages of lackluster, uniform blocks and rows of insti- tutional-looking, gray, box-like homes. Experiential design considers the sensory ideas of hospitality from a “care” sense, and a new model emerges that inspires and renews residents’ spirits. Drawing back to basic human needs through sight, sound and touch allows occupants to form deeper Jeffrey Schoeneck, AIA LEED AP Principal, Cuningham Ross Cooperthwaite Moline Apartments is arranged around a series of smaller, three-level, 12-unit clusters opening onto a common stair with warm wood stairs. Ross Cooperthwaite Moline’s apartment arrangement is designed to create small communities with nurturing strong ties between neighbors and offering residents a more welcoming and supportive environment.