Ball State WINS the 2023 Build Challenge!

Ball State’s College of Architecture and Planning students and faculty were named the 2023 Build Challenge Overall Winner during the international U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2023 Build Competition. The build team also won 6 contest area specifically awards in: Integrated Design, Occupant Experience, Energy performance, Architecture, Market Analysis, and Presentation. 

For two years CAP students planned, designed, and helped build the Alley House—an affordable, energy-efficient, eco-friendly duplex family home in Indianapolis. As a Ball State Immersive Learning project, Alley House provided students the opportunity to work with community partners and to bring awareness to community builders about the way we construct new buildings in a more sustainable and affordable way for the future. 

Special thanks to Englewood Community Development Corporation, Cedar Street Builders and all the other vendors who helped make this possible!

Read the official announcement from the  U.S. Department of  Energy Solar Decathlon here.


About the Solar Decathlon Competition

The Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon Competitions gives student teams the option to participate in either the Design Challenge, a one- to two-semester, design-only competition, or the Build Challenge, a 2-year project where qualifying teams design and build houses that are displayed and judged in their local communities sponsored by the US Department of Energy (USDOE). The competition challenges student teams to design net-zero energy homes that generate at least as much energy onsite as it consumes on an annual basis using sustainable building techniques and renewable energy technologies.

Solar Decathlon leverages the work of students and universities to inspire homebuyers and the building industry to pursue high-performance, healthy, and affordable housing solutions, and it provides students with opportunities for real-world, hands-on learning in preparation for sustainability-related careers in design and construction.

The College of Architecture and Planning has an 8-year history of design and construction experience with the Solar Decathlon program. Beginning in 2013, the college collaborated with the University of Louisville on a Build Challenge house. From 2017 to Present the colleges’ multidisciplinary student-led teams have engaged in 25 Solar Decathlon Competitions.


2023 Build Challenge – “Alley House”

Over the past five semesters, CAP’s interdisciplinary team of approximately 100 undergraduate/graduate students have been collaborating with residents and community partner Englewood Community Development Corporation (ECDC) in the Near East-side neighborhoods of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Gratus Development of Indianapolis. Gratus is the developer for the Englewood Homes’ 40-unit affordable housing development of 20 two-family homes. The Alley House will be two units within the project. The Alley House Duplex aims to:

  • Restore residential neighborhoods with prototypes for vacant urban lot infill housing.
  • Provide an affordable, two-family housing unit integrated into a walkable community.
  • Create a two-family (duplex) housing typology that is high performance and a net positive energy building.



Ball State University College of Architecture & Planning

The nationally recognized and highly ranked Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning is built upon a fundamental belief in educating students through experiential learning that connects education with real world situations. CAP programs build student awareness of how the design and construction professions make positive change in our communities, while developing each student’s abilities and confidence for long-term professional success, and leadership.

Located in Muncie, Indiana, at Ball State University, the  R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) is comprised of four departments:

  • Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Urban Planning
  • Construction Management & Interior Design