Public Notice: Building Foundations

Good work on the sustainable design front

When it rains, it pours. In this week when we give affordable housing nonprofit Foundation Communities their fourth "Best of Austin" award, and also feature their health insurance enrollment assistance program below and elsewhere in this section, they also drew recognition and top honors in a largely different forum, honoring innovation in sustainable design.

Foundation Communities were the big winners at the 2017 Austin Green Awards, announced Oct. 25 at the Austin Green Awards Celebra­tion, earning top honors, and two of the four awards overall – for projects that came to fruition in the past year in very different settings, but with a common purpose: to provide affordable housing for those who can't afford market rate, plus the support services that those residents often require. The Project of the Year is their Dell Foundation Learning Center at Lakeline Station Apartments (h+uo architects). The Learning Center is "the first fully inhabited 'net zero' commercial building in Austin," hosting learning programs for kids, and financial coaching, exercise and nutrition classes for adults, plus the aforementioned help with health insurance enrollment.

FC's other awardee is Bluebonnet Stu­dios (Forge Craft Architecture + Design), a multi-unit infill project that offers what would seem impossible in the Austin real estate market: 107 deeply affordable efficiency units in the heart of a central, walkable neighborhood on a major mobility corridor at 2301 S. Lamar. One judge lauded it for "deep targeting people at 80% median family income (MFI) and doing it in a walkable location while hitting admirable sustainability benchmarks and goals, as well as educating the community of occupants and staff." The other winners were Milagro Springs Retreat (Miró Rivera Architects), a private residence in Wimberley that's "a prototype for a sustainable rural community," with off-grid water and energy systems, among other features; and Electric Drive (Austin Energy and SOL Design Lab), which is AE's project on West Second Street, an "innovative approach to mobility's future in downtown Austin and featuring an ADA-accessible solar kiosk designed to recharge mobile electronic devices and electric bicycles."

Regarding ACA enrollment: It's underway now until Dec. 15; Foundation Communities offers free assistance at their Community Financial Centers, 5900 Airport and 2600 W. Stassney; see for hours.

Tax preparation services are another thing Foundation Communities offers, and they're going to need over 600 volunteers to help in that effort for the coming tax season. Amazingly, no accounting experience is necessary; hear all about it at a Volunteer Kickoff luncheon this Friday, Nov. 3; see for more info.

Making trash into useful stuff for a living is the topic at Circular Economy Night, a free networking and educational event to kick off the city's [Re]Verse Pitch Competition, 6-8pm Tuesday, Nov. 7, at Atlassian, 303 Colorado #1600. This cool annual competition tries to match local businesses that produce a stream of waste material with entrepreneurs who can produce something new out of it. If you fall into either category, come to the meetup; your spent grain could be someone else's nutritious dog biscuit. Go to for a fun catalog of previous winners, finalists, and other inspiring ecological success stories.

Public Notice: Building Foundations

The second annual Austin Design Week is meant "to propose and showcase the best in visual, interactive, product, industrial, architectural and civic design [in] a week of workshops, talks, studio tours and events" – some 60+ meetings around town, running Mon.-Fri., Nov. 6-10. It kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 5, with a gathering of "leaders and influencers of East Austin to articulate ways we can work together over a ticketed chef-prepared brunch with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys." Hear, hear! City planning over bottomless vodka and champagne has to be a good thing. Other events are free, with preregistration at

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