Overland funded the Housing Homeless Families studio, an interdisciplinary architectural studio at The University of Texas at Austin, with the project winnings from the 2011 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence. The students were tasked with using architecture to transform the way that we as a society address significant social issues like homelessness, resulting in a new paradigm for creating social change through the built environment.
The students’ process of inquiry and engagement with the homeless gave voice to these frequently marginalized community members. The strategies for design were founded on the relationships revealed through the students’ interactions with local institutions and organizations that address homelessness, and were developed through research and interdisciplinary discussions in psychological and urban ecology of place and people. A series of short design projects reinforced this potential for collaborative design to transform places, culture, and people.
Through the course of the studio, students gained a new-found humility, knowledge, and skill set to alleviate homelessness and to inform future projects throughout their careers—a passion the sponsoring architecture firm has held for over 25 years and continues to share with the world.