The Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects this week honored tiny, often overlooked work in its fifth annual small projects awards, set to take place May 1 at Chicago's Architectural Artifacts. Architect P.K. VanderBeke took home top honors for her firm's Live/Work Gallery project, a “romantic ruin” sheltered within a century-old factory building in Chicago. Seven firms won additional awards for a variety of work, including a “box within a box” studio by Froeilich Kim Architects, Dirk Denison's cast aluminum table, and an elegant kitchen from MAS Studio. One winner was for work on another award trophy—MGLM Architects were recognized for designing a new Acanthus Award for the Chicago-Midwest Chapter of the Institute of Classic Architecture & Art. AIA Chicago executive vice president Zurich Esposito said the focus on small projects highlights good design work that isn't often celebrated. “With the improved economy, home and business owners are getting back to expansions, or thinking about tackling improvement projects,” Esposito said in a statement, “and it pays to hire an architect.” Six firms also received citations of merit. View a complete list of winners on AIA Chicago's website. Here are some more photos of the P. K. VanderBeke's Live/Work Gallery by photographer Janet Mesic Mackie (unless otherwise noted), provided by AIA:
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Big projects command the most media attention, but small works of art and architecture can still make a splash. That’s the ethos of AIA Chicago’s fourth annual Small Projects Awards, which last week named 13 honorees among 96 entries that included Chinatown’s new boathouse, a barn-like complement to Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth house, and an un-built “Safe House” for tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri. The winners fell into one of five categories: 1,001-5,000 Square Feet, 500 Square Feet and Under, 501-1,000 Square Feet, Objects, Un-built Buildings. (Last year's winners.) Little You is a speech therapy center built with a modest budget of $154 per square foot. Made of black manganese modular brick and clear anodized aluminum, the modern building embraces the neighborhood’s 50s-era commercial building stock. Mies’ archetypal modernist home, the Farnsworth House, is sinking. While preservationists decide how to minimize damages from future floods, the Barnsworth Exhibition Center provides temporary exhibition space for Edith Farnsworth’s wardrobe. Recycled lumber scraps from the circular-plan barn went to create an end-grain floor. Not attempting to out-Mies Mies, the Barnsworth instead nods to the site’s agrarian setting. Safe House won the un-built buildings category for its mission to provide refuge from storms like the tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, Missouri in 2011. Built with insulated concrete forms, from foundation to exterior walls to roof, the efficient construction method reduces energy bills by 50 percent, according to designers Wrap Architecture. The concrete roof is left exposed, pattern imprinted and sealed. Screens are rated to wind forces of 175 mph, so a safe room is included for the most severe storms. Read about all the entries here.
The Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects honored 107 projects with its annual small project awards last Friday, putting the spotlight on objects, small structures, and small firms. According to the AIA Chicago, "the goal of this award program is to raise public awareness of the value that architects bring to small projects and to promote small practitioners as a resource for design excellence." This year, the third year for the awards program, small projects were honored in four categories: Additions/Remodeling, Kitchens, New Construction, and Small Objects. “Big ideas and transformational spaces come from creative people, and those people are at firms small and large,” AIA Chicago Executive Vice President Zurich Esposito said in a statement. “The Small Projects Awards reward that innovative thinking that works on a smaller scale.”