The annual ARCHI-TECH AV Awards have become an eagerly anticipated event, both within the design industries and among the editors and staff of this publication.
Each spring, ARCHI-TECH magazine, in partnership with the International Communications Industries Association (ICIA), chooses six outstanding examples of cutting-edge AV technologies integrated with compelling architectural design to receive the awards. Winning members of the design teams, including integrators, architects, and consultants, are named in June during an awards banquet at InfoComm, the ICIA’s premier event, and the winning projects are featured in ARCHI-TECH’s July-August issue.
This year’s banquet was held in the Conrad Hilton Ballroom of the Las Vegas Hilton, where the 2005 ARCHI-TECH AV Awards were presented by the magazine’s publisher, Jim Forthofer.
In past years, the judges have selected one of the six winners as Best Project of the Year. In 2005, however, ARCHI-TECH and the ICIA decided to split the best project category into two awards based on the total cost of the AV portion of the project: “Best Over $1 Million” and “Best Under $1 Million.”
“We decided to award two best-project prizes this year because we firmly believe that true innovation in the integration of AV elements into architectural design does not necessarily require big bucks and deep pockets,” Forthofer told the 750 people who attended the banquet. “In fact, we believe that tight budgets can sometimes actually fuel creative new exploitation of existing technologies, to bring out the best in designers and integrators.”
During the nomination period for the 2005 awards, which ran from September 2004 to March 2005, the magazine received nominations for 50 projects on three continents. Almost all of them were outstanding designs.
“We found this year’s nominated projects to be unusually compelling,” says Editor-in-Chief Rob Fixmer, who co-hosted the final judging conference. “It was especially rewarding to sit in on the judges’ debate, because in many cases it was a matter of their struggling to differentiate very subtle qualitative advantages within a universe of projects that were all clearly winners. Sorting out the best of the best demanded a level of intellectual rigor that I believe is rare in an awards jury.”
Fixmer adds: “All six judges invested a great deal of their own time and energy in selecting this year’s winners. ARCHI-TECH and the ICIA owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
Forthofer says the growing quality of the nominated projects each year suggests a noteworthy trend in building designs. “I think what we’re seeing here,” he says, “is strong evidence that technology is increasingly not simply another layer in a building plan but an integral aspect of any elegant architectural solution. We detect this trend in the design integration of everything from lighting and building controls to HVAC and security, but it is especially evident when it comes to AV technologies.”
In fact, for the first time, the judges decided to add two honorable mentions to members of design teams who produced extraordinary projects that did not precisely meet the criteria of the awards program but that demonstrated unusual design excellence coupled with innovative AV integration.
Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D., ICIA executive director, says there is an important lesson to be learned from this year’s award winners. “When architects and AV design consultants collaborate from the inception of a project, form and function come together,” he says. “The ARCHI-TECH AV awards celebrate some of today’s best communications environments - when beautiful facilities perform in terms of acoustics, sight lines, and aesthetics to enhance communications for every user or occupant.”
Forthofer closed his remarks at the awards ceremony by reminding the architects, integrators, and consultants in the audience that the magazine will begin accepting nominations for the 2006 ARCHI-TECH AV Awards in September.
“We want to hear from you,” he said. “Be sure to submit all your best projects.”
Judges initially assigned scores to the 50 entries of 1 to 5 points in each of seven criteria:
- Concept - How innovative was the design, and how well did the chosen technologies serve the needs of the design?
- Process - How was the design team chosen and assembled? How was collaboration between architect and integrator or consultant conceived and nurtured?
- Scheduling - Were there special scheduling issues having to do with either the phasing of overall construction or extraordinarily tight deadlines for the entire project?
- Design - From a purely aesthetic standpoint, did the design and integration please the visual senses of those who entered the space?
- Solutions - Did the selection and integration of hardware, software, and network infrastructure represent an innovative or unique solution?
- Results - Did the selection and integration of hardware, software, and network infrastructures meet the precise needs of the client without compromising functionality?
- Creativity - Did the architects and integrators demonstrate an ability to think outside the box and in some important way expand upon what had been accomplished before?
Next, judges met in a 2-hour conference call organized and monitored by ARCHI-TECH Editor-in-Chief Rob Fixmer, the magazine’s administrative coordinator, Jeanette Kendall, and International Communications Industries Association Senior Vice President of Marketing & Membership Taly Walsh. At this point, judges compared the points that each of them had assigned and debated the merits of projects. In a number of cases, these discussions resulted in judges adjusting the points they had awarded. When the dust had settled, the six projects with the most points were winners of the 2005 ARCHI-TECH AV awards.
The six judges who comprised this year’s awards panel included highly respected representatives of the three industries covered by ARCHI-TECH magazine: two architects, two AV integrators, and two technology consultants.
Devy Breda is a principal and co-founder of TechnaSpec, a full-service AV Systems Integrator based in Mississauga, Ontario. One of only six graduates of the George Brown Acoustic Engineering Technician Program, he founded his first AV integration service, Audiospec Inc., in 1987. Five years later, he co-founded TechnaSpec. He is active in the education and training efforts of both the International Communications Industries Association (ICIA) and the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA).
Doug Dillman is a senior systems designer for CIM Audio Visual in Fort Wayne, IN. He has more than 20 years of experience in system design and implementation including fire alarm, nurse call, professional audio and video systems, as well as control systems. He is a graduate of Purdue University and an active member of the ICIA’s education and training programs.
Will Craig has worked in the AV industry for 11 years, the last 5 at the technology consulting firm Elert & Associates, where he works with architects around the country creating effective communication spaces for corporate, government, and education clients. He earned the ICIA’s highest design certification, CTS-D, and is a regular national seminar/convention presenter and contributing writer to industry magazines.
David Gales has extensive experience in design consulting and systems contracting and brings a unique background to his company, Vantage Technology Consulting Group. He holds a degree in construction technology and spent the early years of his career in architectural design. He also holds an MBA and has completed post-graduate studies in telecommunications engineering. He is an active member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, the ICIA, and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Peter Gross is an architect and a senior associate principal with the New York office of Kohn Pederson Fox Associates. In his 21 years of experience working with large-scale interior and core/shell design issues, he has become an acknowledged expert in the evolving integration of technology and architecture. As a new member of the editorial advisory board of ARCHI-TECH magazine, he will help shape the content and future direction of this publication.
Stephen Newbold is senior technology director for Gensler, the world’s largest architectural firm, where he specializes in the integration of technology in broadcast and events designs. Stephen represents a new trend in architecture - bringing technology integration expertise directly into the architectural firm. Stephen has been an active, enthusiastic adviser in the evolution of ARCHI-TECH magazine and a founding board member of our ARCHI-TECHXchange event.