AIA Names 2009 Honor Awards

Grimshaw’s Museo del Acero, in Monterey, Mexico, is one of nine winners in the architecture category.
Courtesy AIA

Today the AIA announced 25 outstanding projects in three categories—Architecture, Interiors, and Urban Planning—which exemplify the best work in the field to be celebrated by the 2009 Institute Honor Awards. Without further ado, here are the projects, grouped by category, along with the jury’s thoughts as provided by the AIA.


The jury for the award was chair David Lake, Lake | Flato Architects; Carlton Brown, Full Spectrum of New York; Michael B. Lehrer, Lehrer Architects; James J. Malanaphy, III, The 160 Group, Ltd; Paul Mankins, Substance Architecture Interiors Design; Anna McCorvey, director, AIAStudents Northeast Quad; Anne Schopf, Mahlum Architects; Suman Sorg, Sorg and Associates; and Denise Thompson, Francis Cauffman.

Project: Basilica of the Assumption—Baltimore
Architect: John G. Waite Associates, Architects
Jury Comments:
The architects expanded the space while making it appear as if the envelope is virtually the same. The jury applauded the efforts of mending our ways to restore, respect, and give new life to buildings by significant architects who are so important to the profession.

Project: Cathedral of Christ the Light—Oakland
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Jury Comments: The project contains layers of symbolism. There is a sense of community and openness. The space shifts between heaviness and lightness. It is appropriately monumental but a reverie of light and shadow that is a gift to the City of Oakland.

Project: Charles Hostler Student Center – Beirut, Lebanon
Architect: VJAA
Jury Comments: This project uses elements in a thoughtful way to create a rich urban place. Smart use of its surfaces and resources and in keeping with the local conditions. The outdoor spaces are more comfortable because every piece of the building is leveraged to its best advantage. This could have been a monolithic program but instead the architects created an enlivened urban quarters connecting the campus to the water.

Project: The Gary Comer Youth Center—Chicago
Architect: John Ronan Architects
Jury Comments: A true landmark and beloved building. People want to be here and want it to be active all of the time. A new Modernism that uses timeless and topical ideas that look as if they will stand the test of time. Kudos to Gary Comer for giving back to his community and the architects for creating a tribute to his generosity and energy that benefits and uplifts this community.

Project: The Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life—New Orleans
Architect: VJAA
Jury Comments: This project is climate-responsive in six months out of the year in very clever ways. The architect was creative about the functions in the perimeter zones and how they interact with the campus. It changes the perception of what is the heart of the campus.

Project: Museo del Acero—Monterey, Mexico
Architect: Grimshaw
Jury Comments: This is a proud symbol and testament to the steel industry in Monterey, Mexico. The architect brought back the artistry of artifact that was industry and gave it new spirit—embracing steel being made, fabricated, and enlivened.

Project: The New York Times Building—New York
Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Jury Comments: There is an amazing serenity that emanates from the building in contrast to the chaos of its surroundings.  The building is welcoming to the human at the ground level and wears its transparency proudly. The jury liked the iconography of the building—it looks like lines of print and becomes like reading the Times.

Project: Plaza Apartments—San Francisco
Architect: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
Jury Comments: The architecture has become a seminal event in the residents’ lives—residents remember the date they were first allowed to move in. The architect created a series of “events” that happen in the lobby, courtyard, and in every hallway where there’s light—it’s really about optimism, hope, and change and the message that everyone is deserving of light, air, view, beauty, and proportion.

Project: Salt Point House—Salt Point, New York
Architect: Thomas Phifer and Partners
Jury Comments: I believe this house makes a statement to living in a simple and sustainable way. The owners wanted to connect with nature, tread lightly on the landscape, and be able to relax.

Interior Architecture

The jury for the award was chair Mark Sexton, Kruek & Sexton Architects; Joan Blumenfeld, Perkins + Will; Elizabeth Knibbe, Quinn Evans Architects; Arvind Manocha, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association; Kevin Sneed, OTJ Architects.

Project: Barclays Global Investors Headquarters—San Francisco
STUDIOS Architecture
Jury Comments:Very handsome, using wood and colored glass to great effect; the lighting is imaginative, and the relationship to the base building is resolved well. For a large office project, the architect showed an amazing amount of creativity and vibrancy. The lighting is frequently unexpected. The thinking about the use of light is out of the box and playful in what is not a playful project type.

Project: Chronicle Books – San Francisco
Architect:    Mark Cavagnero Associates
Jury Comments: Nice relationship to the existing structure. The jury applauded the sustainability efforts and the effort to bring light in. The reuse of the core structure space—concrete floors, etc.—is quite effective and was done in a very subtle way. On the ground floor, the building structure is revealed to great effect.

Project: The Heckscher Foundation for Children—New York City
Architect: Christoff:Finio architecture
Jury Comments: Without losing the original character of the building, this renovation transforms it. This is a difficult design problem solved elegantly. The narrow nature of the townhouse becomes a framework for beautifully composed public spaces that flow seamlessly. By linking them together the observer never has the feeling of being between the two long and dark party walls.

Project: IFAW World Headquarters—Yarmouth Port, Ma.
Architect: designLAB architects
Jury Comments: From the initial selection of a brownfield site through the design of the spaces to the selection of materials, this project is a successful example of sustainable design. The reference to wooden boat making and craftsmanship is particularly successful to the design inside and out.

Project: Jigsaw—Washington, D.C.
Architect: David Jameson Architect
Jury Comment: This project seems designed from the inside out with the users’ experience in mind. An enormous amount of thought was given to the individual users as to their experience inside the house. Natural light enters into each space in two to three different ways. Care was given to the optimal experience of moving from room to room.

Project: R.C. Hedreen—Seattle
Architect: NBBJ
Jury Comments: The richness of detailing juxtaposed against the heft of the historic concrete structure was gutsy and effective. Creating a corporate interior that has such a completely unique aesthetic is rare and wonderful.

Project: School of American Ballet—New York       
Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Jury Comments: This project floats like the dancers who use it. There is an ethereal quality of design and materials that relates directly to the users. The quality of light is wonderful. Muscular architecture; beautiful concept.

Project: Sheila C. Johnson Design Center—New York
Architect: Lyn Rice Architects
Jury Comments: The architect uses the design to display the students and their work to give the campus its identity. Nice respect of historic façade while giving the school a clearly contemporary identity.  Youthful, vibrant, dynamic! This project is hitting on all cylinders; it captures the energy of the student environment.

Tishman Speyer Corporate Headquarters—New York City
Architect: Lehman Smith McLeish
Jury Comments: The design was very well done. It pays respect to the historic design and created a Modern design that is respectful of the original space. The architecture doesn’t compete with art work; it respects it without being a white box.

Project: Town House—Washington, D.C.
Architect: Robert M. Gurney
Jury Comments: This is a terrific project! It takes the typology of town house and opens it up, creating wonderful spaces and vistas. The materials and aesthetic is new and fresh, using bold color and simple materials without being cartoonish. It is a unique and imaginative take on a well-known design problem. It is refreshing to see how a traditional town house can be transformed through bold moves by a very talented architect.

Urban Planning

The jury for the award was chair Jonathan Marvel, Rogers Marvel Architects; Samuel Assefa, Chicago Department of Planning and Development; Tim Love, Utile; Ivenue Love-Stanley, Stanley Love-Stanley; and Stephanie Reich, Glendale Planning Division.

Project: Between Neighborhood Watershed & Home—Fayetteville, Arkansas
University of Arkansas Community Design Center
Jury Comments: This greenfield development seems to fit in Fayetteville, particularly by Habitat in a scheme that truly employs innovative sustainable techniques in its management of all surfaces, integrated parking, circulation, and open space. The site plan configuration achieves a level of density balanced by usable and varied open space, and the buildings are more varied than a typical Habitat development.

Project: The Central Park of the New Radiant City—Guangming NewTown, China
Architect: Lee + Mundwiler Architects
Jury Comments: This project is beautiful and ingenious. Particularly, the attention to the existing landscape and topography as integral to the project by utilizing the existing hills as a structured landscape to return to nature, while the natural runoff becomes a body of water is a simple idea with a conceptual clarity to make it truly memorable.

Foshan Donghuali Master Plan – Guangdong, China
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Jury Comments: The plan shows a variety of uses, scales and densities and open spaces that will serve to integrate the district with the surrounding city fabric.  The proposal includes a set of guidelines for a variety of scales, heights and streetfront types that will enable implementation over time.

Project: Orange Country Great Park – Irvine, California
TEN Arquitectos
Jury Comments: The project utilizes the underlying axis of the former airport, and juxtaposed the new gorge with a sensible structure of circulation for cars and people and placement of buildings. The use of the former runway as an inspiration and opportunity as a supergraphic creates an urban poetic gesture at a larger scale.

Project: Southworks Lakeside Chicago Development—Chicago
Architect: Sasaki Associates, Inc.,  Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Jury Comments: A formidable effort and comprehensive plan for a new neighborhood with a variety of districts. These districts are composed of different grains and densities allowing for varied economies, housing types, and uses. The welcome irregularities in the plan resulting from well-considered view corridors and idiosyncrasies in surrounding fabric create a wide variety of experiences and places.

Project: Treasure Island Master Plan – San Francisco
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Jury Comments: An urban design strategy that is sustainable by its very nature.  The project employs an inventive use of solar and wind pattern that generated an urban plan with diagonal grid to protect public spaces from the inhospitable winds.  Other sustainable design strategies include an organic farm, wind turbines, location of open spaces as reconstructed wetlands.

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