AIA Activate NC Urban Housing Competition


The competition challenged designers to explore new ideas for urban dwelling to foster connection to the urban fabric and surrounding neighborhoods. The site is a hinge between commercial and residential areas so project ideas should create links between these two parts of the city. Specific guidelines were given for the mix of residential, retail, and open greenspace.


Frank Harmon, FAIA - Frank Harmon Architect (Jury Chair)
Jonathan Segal, FAIA - Jonathan Segal FAIA & Development Company
Roberto de Leon, FAIA - De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop
Julie Snow, FAIA - Snow Kreilich Architects
Michael Williams, AIA - Liquid Design


First Place Award Winner  
Featured on
2017 AIA Charlotte Merit Award, Unbuilt


Our entry MINT is conceived as a catalyst for a culinary district: tapping into an expanding local restaurant culture. Food centered entrepreneurial enterprises in a new urban live/work community thrive on symbiotic relationships established by the proximity to teaching and rental kitchens for the public and culinary start-ups with access to fresh ingredients harvested on site. MINT is conceived as a catalyst for a Culinary District within Charlotte: creating jobs and encouraging food-centric entrepreneurial enterprises embedded into a new live/work community within an established urban neighborhood.

Sara, an architect, lives in one of the live/work units. From her ground floor office space she worked on the upfit of the MINT Incubator kitchens in the culinary retail building just yards from her front door. Sara also tends to the gardens out her back door, as a member of the MINT Garden Collective, knowing that the food she helps grow will be prepared by the chefs-in-training in the kitchens she designed.

Jose and Anya’s family enjoys weekend outings at the MINT Restaurant where movies are projected on the patio wall and they know the chefs who are also their neighbors. Weekday meals are sometimes served on their rooftop terrace with views of the gardens below (where their vegetables are grown) and the Charlotte skyline beyond (where Anya works).

Chad grew up in Wilmore, just a few blocks away. He’s always loved to cook and has combined this passion with his desire to see his neighborhood improve by working as an aspiring sous chef in the MINT Restaurant and purchasing his live/work unit through the MINT BMR (below market rate) ownership program.

These three households represent the range of experiences available by living and working in MINT, where community members invest their resources (both physical and financial) in a sustainable, food-centric, and economically viable new/old approach to urban living.

Team members included Corey Baughman, William DeYoung, Jordan Gray, Rob Harkey, Erika Jolleys, Claudia Li, Albert McDonald, Will Pate, Michael Romot, and Kevin Utsey.