CAPLA Design/Build

Students, faculty and clients building a changing world.

Design/Build residence created by CAPLA faculty and students

CAPLA Design/Build involves students in hands-on projects via studio courses, independent study and other courses with lab components.

The pedagogy of design/build centers around the belief that learning by doing is a powerful method of gaining and retaining knowledge because of the immediate application to tangible problems.

CAPLA Design/Build Spring 2020 Recap


Design/build intertwines the way you learn with what you learn. Its setting combines studio, workshop, laboratory and jobsite, and the things you make there are constantly talking back to you at full scale, in real time and alongside the shared experience of others.

Charlie Hailey, Design/Build with Jersey Devil

Featured Design/Build Projects

EMT members at Stadium Rowhouse #1

Student EMTs Find New Home in Rowhouse Designed and Built by Architecture Students

A new rowhouse, designed and built by undergraduate students as part of CAPLA Design/Build, proved to be the "perfect fit" for a student EMS team. The rowhouse, which is the first of several under design and construction, opened in Summer 2020.

South Stadium Rowhouse 1

South Stadium Rowhouse 1

Designed by Class of 2019 B Arch and M Arch students, constructed by Class of 2020 B Arch and M Arch students under the guidance of Professor of Architecture Mary Hardin and completed this summer, the South Stadium Rowhouse 1 is the first of five CAPLA Design/Build rowhouses.


Sustainability Laboratory and Urban Garden (SLUG) at CITY High School

Designed by CAPLA Assistant Professor of Architecture Christopher Trumble and Washington University in St. Louis Associate Professor of Urban Design Linda Samuels and built with CAPLA students and others, CITY High School's Sustainability Laboratory and Urban Garden (SLUG) converted an unusable alleyway into a dynamic, multipurpose space.

The Design/Build Partnership

Instructors bring real-life projects to the classroom, along with funding and clients who participate in the design process. Students develop designs with the intention of participating in construction.

Many times, the projects are cross-disciplinary, and involve students across the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture and other University of Arizona programs, such as Materials Science and Engineering.

CAPLA Design/Build projects range in scale from furniture and room-sized installations to shade structures, playgrounds, residences and classroom buildings. Our Materials Laboratory and Underwood Family Sonoran Landscape Laboratory have supported many hands-on learning endeavors.

Drachman Design-Build Coalition

Drachman Design-Build Coalition, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that promotes and facilitates the design and construction of affordable housing for low-income and underserved populations in Arizona.

The objectives of Drachman Design Build Coalition are to:

  • Provide architectural, landscape architecture, urban design and planning services for low-income populations
  • Provide quality design and construction for the segment of the population earning below 80 percent of the median income in Pima County, Arizona
  • Establish a standard of design quality that encourages dignity and price of ownership in dwellers
  • Provide the staff of CAPLA with opportunities for continuing education in order to promote personal and professional growth and development as it pertains to service delivery and public policy.

Drachman Design-Build Coalition has constructed several design/build residences in Pima County, with grants from the City of Tucson and Pima County, as well as other funding sources making the projects possible.

Learn more about the process of designing and building Residence No. 6 from Meg Schubert, who participated in the design/build studio.

Learn More about the Drachman Design-Build Coalition and Its Projects

CAPLA Design/Build Awards

Thanks to their collaborative planning, innovative designs and meticulous construction, CAPLA Design/Build projects regularly win prestigious awards, including:

Other CAPLA Design/Build awards by faculty member include:

Mary C. Hardin

  • AIA Arizona 2019 Design Pedagogy Award, for Energy Conserving Affordable Housing Program
  • 2019 Design-Build Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.
  • 2019 Housing Design Education Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.
  • 2018 University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Award.
  • 2017 AIA AZ Educator of the Year Award, for teaching excellence.
  • SEED (Social Economic Environmental Design) Award, for excellence in public interest design, to the series of six design-build houses by Drachman Design-Build Coalition. This is an international award given to 4-6 projects annually, by the SEED Network, which is comprised of Structures for Inclusion, Public Interest Design Institute and Design Corps. The competition was held in November, 2015, and the award will be received at the Structures for Inclusion Conference in March, 2016.
  • AIA Southern Arizona Chapter Honor Award 2013, for DDBC Residence 5, Tucson AZ.
  • AIA Southern Arizona Chapter Merit Award 2013, for Barrio Rowhouse, Tucson, AZ.
  • ACSA Collaborative Practice Award 2011, awarded for best collaboration of professional practice, teaching, and community service, Montreal, Quebec. With Richard Eribes and John Folan.

  • AIA Southern Arizona Chapter Home of the Year award 2009, for DDBC Residence 2 , Tucson, AZ. With Richard Eribes.
  • AIA Southern Arizona Chapter Home of the Year award 2009, for DDBC Residence 3 , Tucson, AZ. With John Folan.
  • 2009-2010 ACSA Faculty Design Honorable Mention, for DDBC Residence 3, Tucson, AZ. Drachman Design-Build Coalition.
  • National Urban Policy Initiative Conference Award, 2008. First place award in national competition ($20,000) for affordable housing policy initiatives. September, 2008.
  • Book Award: Best Architecture Book of 2008, by Instituto de Arquitetos do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro for O Lugar do Projeto.
  • AIA Southern Arizona Chapter Home of the Year Award 2007, for DDBC Residence 1, Tucson, AZ. With John Folan.
  • AIA Award, Arizona Chapter, Distinguished Building Award 2006, for DDBC Residence 1, Tucson, AZ. With John Folan.
  • AIA Award, Southern Arizona Chapter, Homes of the Year 2003, for Elser Residence, Apache Junction, AZ. With Richard Eribes.
  • The Collaborative Practice Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, awarded for best collaboration of professional practice, teaching, and community service, 2001.
  • Honorable Mention, Academic Category of The Design-Build Institute of America, “for demonstrated leadership in the advancement of best design-build practices and of design-build as the project delivery method“, 2000.
  • Gila River Residence chosen as one of 75 projects published in Design Matters national affordable housing catalog, October 2000.
  • Gila River Design/Build project featured on cover and as cover story in the UofAOutreach magazine, published in the Spring of 2000.

Connect with CAPLA Design/Build

For additional information, please contact:

Mary Hardin
Professor of Architecture
Director, Drachman Design-Build Coalition