A Joyful 18: The AIA Housing Awards

Places / March 21, 2011

The 18 projects in the 2011 AIA Housing Awards were selected for their ability to delight as well as solve problems and elevate the design profession.

“We were looking for the theatrical and a certain sense joyfulness, of ‘Oh man – it would be so nice to be there!’” said Katherine Austin, AIA, jury chair for the awards.  “We were looking for projects that shared beauty and an environmental consciousness.”

Two Seattle-based firms – Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Olson Kundig Architects – along with David Baker + Partners out of San Francisco, were honored with two awards each this year.

The jury did not limit its number of awards, and in fact introduced a new section to the competition: Specialized Housing.   “The ‘Haven for Hope’ (by Overland Partners Architects) is such an interesting project,” Austin said.  “And we were able to include university dormitories like the Northeastern University building (by William Rawn Associates, Architects) too.

Predictably, the jury selected projects committed to energy and resource reduction, at how site constraints were handled for aspects like passive solar.  “We were looking for elegant solutions to specific sets of criteria,” she said.  “The Blair Barnhouse (by Alchemy) is so much fun, the Addition on a Historic Cape on a Coastal Farm (Bohlin Cywinski Jackson) is just breathtaking, and then there’s the North Beach Residence by Heliotrope, with its green roof and storm water management.  It’s a beach location, on stilts, and the water runs underneath.”

Olson Kundig’s 1111 E. Pike might be her favorite, though.  It’s a multi-use project with 27 units located on Seattle’s “Auto Row,’ where used cars once were sold.  Its exterior palette was inspired by classic cars, with owners choosing the exterior color of their units, resulting in a mix-and-match aesthetic that enlivens the neighborhood.  “It picks up on the surroundings,” she said.  “They were very conscious of where they were, in creating a new and beautiful environment.”

For more information, go to http://www.aia.org/practicing/awards/2011/housing-awards/index.htm.

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Michael Welton




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