I love going to Downtown Los Angeles. It’s changed. A lot. And what a fantastic way to celebrate the AIA/LA Design Awards: down on Broadway, choreographed by the Awards Committee to triangulate the historic Million Dollar Theater, the iconic Bradbury Building, and the revamped Grand Central Market for the closing party. In fact, it was so well-choreographed that it was difficult to pull people from the Bradbury (all those fantastic wood, iron, and marble details were lit up in the vertigo-inducing atrium like some movie set) to the actual theater and get them in their seats for the awards presentation. That was the vibe. It was a good time, spilling and tripping out into the street from one venue to the next.
The program included members of the LA art world: Getty Center CEO James Cuno, who introduced the Design Awards, and Ann Philbin, director of the Hammer Museum, who introduced the Next LA Awards. A total of 21 firms and 14 Presidential Honorees received awards. Presidential Honorees included Adele Yellin, the owner of Grand Central Market credited with bringing it back to life, and Tibby Dunbar, executive director of the A+D Museum. The A+D also won the Community Contribution Award. The Twenty-Five Year Award went to Thom Mayne and Michael Rotondi for Kate Mantillinni, one of early Morphosis’ first realized projects.
Writer Michael Webb, author of 26 books on architecture and design, won the Design Advocate Award. Educator of the Year went to Norman Millar, dean at Woodbury School of Architecture. Platform for Architecture Research (PAR) won the Emerging Practice Award. And the award for Building Team of the Year went to Morphosis and its team for giving Emerson College something quite different for its LA campus.
By the time the last award, the Gold Medal Award, was presented to Christopher and David Martin for their achievements, the story was complete. Everyone was sitting in the theater their grandfather had designed, a 100-year-old AC Martin project. What a story that is, for them, as leaders of one of the city’s legacy firms (AC Martin was founded in 1906), and for the city itself.
See images of the Design Award–winning projects below.