Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning architecture students and faculty co-leads, Pam Harwood and Tom Collins, were awarded the 2024 AIA Indianapolis Design Excellence Award for their work on the Alley House, a net-positive, sustainable, high-performance two-family home located in the near eastside of Indianapolis. The Alley House previously claimed the top spot in the International Solar Decathlon Local Build Competition in Spring 2023. Their efforts were also recognized with the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA) National Award in October 2023 and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Indianapolis Design Excellence Award in January 2024, after submitting a portfolio of the design build Alley House project for consideration.

So, what made the Alley House stand out?

According to the jury, led by experts from the AIA chapter in Alabama,  the site planning and massing was successful, especially considering the constraints of the confined site. Additionally, they praised the well-executed interior planning and noted the architect’s mission of designing for Equitable Community, Integration, Ecosystem, and Affordability was effectively achieved. Furthermore, the project’s attention to detail and materiality was highlighted as another successful aspect.

The Alley House is currently leased to two families, each of whom are enjoying the high quality of life it offers. The faculty members have been in contact with the new residents and have provided them with a Resident Guide that highlights the unique features of the Alley House. “The duplex house you live in is called the Alley House. It was designed by Ball State University students for a competition called the Solar Decathlon. The two units in the house were designed to be very energy efficient, resulting in low electricity bills for residents. Additionally, the house was designed with resident health in mind, featuring excellent heat, AC, and ventilation systems. Outdoor spaces are also provided for residents to enjoy the weather, garden, and socialize with neighbors. Furthermore, the house was designed using materials and systems that minimize waste and pollution.”

A resident’s thoughts on the Alley House

One of the residents, Steffani Hines, recently shared her thoughts on living in the Alley House, and her enthusiasm is truly contagious. She expressed her joy at the abundance of natural light streaming through the windows each morning, creating a delightful start to her day. Steffani also mentioned her love for the bookshelves, which have become a cherished feature for her family. In fact, she shared a heartwarming anecdote about her children sitting on the floor, affectionately calling her “Library Lady” as she reads to them.

“The kids and I celebrated our FIRST Christmas at The Alley House and that was so big for our family.”
– Resident Steffani Hines

It’s moments like these that remind us of the incredible impact our work has on people’s lives. The Alley House design-build team, comprised of Ball State students and faculty, couldn’t be prouder of the recognition the Alley House has garnered in the architectural community and, more importantly, the positive influence it’s having on the families who now call it home.

Faculty mentors Pam Harwood and Tom Collins with students.