For 22 years, the Residential Architect Design Awards program has recognized the best in advancing housing design. This year’s jury evaluated 266 entries to select outstanding examples of where the field is going. The 21 winners—12 Honor Award recipients, representing the highest level of achievement, and nine Merit Award recipients, representing distinguished achievement—showcased in the following pages reflect the jury’s diverse selections, from heartfelt responses to the nation’s affordable housing crisis to meaningful explorations of typologies addressing aging in place and co-living. As we rethink what housing can be, the 2021 RADA winners exemplify promising models for the future and aim to spark conversation on how to improve housing for all.

Matthew Bremer, AIA, Architecture in Formation, New York
Carlos Madrid III, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Los Angeles
Kimberly Sheppard, FAIA, Gabellini Sheppard Associates, New York
Ingrid Spencer, AIA Austin and Austin Foundation for Architecture, Austin, Texas

Honor Award Winners

To see more photos and drawings, click on the ARCHITECT Project Gallery links below each project category.

Nicholas Snyder—Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

New Approaches to Housing: Caregiving
Light Path
Waverly, Pa.
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

"This house takes the notion of healthy living and accessibility and turns it into something beautiful in unexpected ways.”—Matthew Bremer

Paul Warchol

Custom House, Less Than 3,000 Square Feet
Manifold House
Arlington, Va.
David Jameson Architect

“This house doesn’t look like a house—and that is a good thing. The interiors are humble as opposed to opulent. The simplicity is refreshing.” —Carlos Madrid III

Douglas Sterling

Custom House, Less Than 3,000 Square Feet
Valley Rock Guesthouse
Sonoma, Calif.
Schwartz and Architecture

“This is a poetry piece—the essence of house, a pure expression of walls and roof that transcends into sculpture.” —Kimberly Sheppard

Casey Dunn

Custom House, More Than 3,000 Square Feet
Highland Park Residence
Highland Park, Texas
Alterstudio Architecture

"If you’re going to design a super big house, make it gorgeously grand, fantastically executed, and in perfect, reciprocal balance with the landscape.” —Matthew Bremer

Pernille Loof & Thomas Loof

Multifamily Housing
The Smile
New York
BIG–Bjarke Ingels Group

"This brilliant project smashes the New York City zoning code in the most amazing way. And it brings light down on the street and enlivens it.” —Matthew Bremer

Here And Now Agency

Student Housing
Granville 1500
Los Angeles
Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects

"There is a lot of attention to quality construction for such a big project. The bones are strong and can easily accept different furniture and decor to evolve as personalized temporary homes.” —Kimberly Sheppard

Mark Menjivar

Affordable Housing
The Goat Heads
Marfa, Texas
Candid Rogers Studio

"Look at what 350 square feet as a standalone module gets you! It is resolved beautifully: The interior is joyful, and the little screen porches with concrete blocks are quite great.” —Matthew Bremer

Joe Fletcher Photography

Restoration / Preservation
Moore House
Los Angeles
Woods + Dangaran

"The architects respect the original house, maintaining its uniqueness and design essence, while breathing new life and functionality into it.” —Kimberly Sheppard

Casey Dunn

Wine Cave
Texas Hill Country
Clayton Korte

"This project is like a grown-up’s playhouse or secret hideout—with wine! It is a refined intervention inserted into a carved-out cave.” —Ingrid Spencer

Ema Peter Photography

Architectural Design Detail
Courtyard House
Vancouver, British Columbia
Leckie Studio Architecture + Design

"The palette, the details, and the composition of this house are impeccably sublime.” —Carlos Madrid III

courtesy LS3P

On the Boards
Passage Home Affordable Housing
Raleigh, N.C.

"This well-researched project addresses issues of displacement and offers design solutions that fit the neighborhood.” —Ingrid Spencer

©Tom Holdsworth

New Approaches to Housing: Co-Living
13th Street Sanctuary
Washington, D.C.

“The amount of zoning and building code gymnastics itself makes co-living an exciting design typology, and this ambitious project moves the dial for something that is transformational.” —Matthew Bremer

Merit Award Winners

To see more photos and drawings, click on the ARCHITECT Project Gallery links below each project category.

Great Lakes Cabin
Kyle Chappell Great Lakes Cabin

New Approaches to Housing: Prefabrication
Great Lakes Cabin
Georgian Bay, Ontario
Leckie Studio Architecture + Design

“The amount of zoning and building code gymnastics itself makes co-living an exciting design typology, and this ambitious project moves the dial for something that is transformational.” —Matthew Bremer

Matthew Millman

Custom House, More Than 3,000 Square Feet
Jackson, Wyo.
CLB Architects

“A barn-vernacular architectural mountain home with a surprising interior that is light-filled, artful, and whimsical." —Carlos Madrid III

Here And Now

Multifamily Housing
Canyon Drive
Los Angeles
Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects

"Though unconventional, the unique design reinvents the typology of the dense, small-lot house.” —Ingrid Spencer

Allen Russ/studioHDP

Affordable Housing
Washington, D.C.
Studio Twenty Seven Architecture and Leo A Daly

"The architecture has a sense of character and optimism, and it capitalizes on light and views. Bravo!” —Carlos Madrid III

Lee Bey

Renovation / Adaptive Reuse
West Pullman School Senior Housing

"This transformed landmark building contains beautiful airy spaces and so many nods to its previous life.” —Ingrid Spencer

Casey Dunn

West Campus Residence
Austin, Texas
Alterstudio Architecture, Mell Lawrence Architects

"This house is small, but its interior flow, light, privacy, storage, and public and private spaces are all accomplished with a deft hand.” —Ingrid Spencer

Nic Lehoux

Architectural Design Detail
Wuehrer House
East Hampton, N.Y.
Engelking Architects

"Every aspect of this home has been carefully considered and detailed to come together with grace and balance. There are no ego moments—it plays like a symphony.” —Kimberly Sheppard

courtesy Hester + Hardaway

Sitt'n and Shower'n
Midland, Texas
Rhotenberry Wellen Architects

"This project blurs the line between public and private, celebrates industrial materiality, and proliferates the act of showering alfresco.” —Carlos Madrid III

courtesy S^A | Schwartz and Architecture

On the Boards
The Meander
Marin, Calif.
Schwartz and Architecture

"The invitation for natural landscape and views to flow inside from every subtle angle will make for connective and inspirational inside–outside living.” —Kimberly Sheppard