Making Room: Housing for a Changing America Student Design Competition

Unprecedented shifts in demographics and lifestyles have redefined American households, but housing options have not kept pace. Smart technology, environmental sustainability, and demands for healthy living all require 21st-century solutions.

Making Room: Housing for a Changing America, an exhibition currently on view at the National Building Museum through September 2018, focuses on the mismatch between the diversity of our households and the homogeneity of our housing. The exhibition explores new housing options—offered at all levels of the market—from micro-units, tiny houses, and accessory apartments, to cohousing, co-living, and beyond.

The exhibition’s centerpiece, The Open House, features a hyper-efficient layout, movable walls, and multifunctional furniture. The flexible space addresses the needs of three prototypical households: roommates, the multi-generational family, and retirees looking to downsize. While The Open House is beautiful and impressive, it is not inexpensive.

The Scholarship 

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Foundation, HomeAdvisor, and the National Building Museum challenge students to create an affordable design solution for a retired couple, or a retired couple and caretaker, looking to remain in their 1,000 square-foot home and age-in-place. The design should embrace the same goals of flexibility and seamless universal design—which inherently makes things easier, more usable, or accessible for the greatest number of people - including older and younger individuals and people with, and without, disabilities—incorporated in The Open House.

  • Must be enrolled as an undergraduate student as of February 1, 2018.
  • It will be important for entrants to visit the Making Room exhibition to get a feel and understanding of the space before creating their designs. For this reason, the competition is open to students who attend colleges and universities in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia only.

Cost to Enter
  • There is no entry fee for this design competition

Why Enter?
  • First ($2500), second ($1500), and third ($1000) place scholarships will be awarded
  • First, second, and third place designs will be shared on a monitor within The Open House at the National Building Museum

2018 Timeline
Feb. 20, 2018 Competition Opens
April 13, 2018 All Submissions Due
Submissions accepted until 11:59 p.m. EST.
May 1, 2018 Finalists Informed
First, second, and third place winners informed.
June 1 – Sept. 16, 2018 Winning Designs Shared
Displayed on a monitor within The Open House at National Building Museum.
July 20, 2018 Winners Awarded
At a special ceremony at the National Building Museum


Nationally-recognized leaders will judge the submissions in one round.

  • Chrysanthe B. Broikos, architectural historian, curator of the Making Room: Housing for a Changing America exhibition, National Building Museum
  • Marianne Cusato, adjunct associate professor, University of Notre Dame School of Architecture
  • Susan Chung, Ph.D., senior associate, Research, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)