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AIA Selects 2009 Recipients of Small Project Awards

May 20, 2009

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected 20 recipients of the 2009 Small Project Awards. The AIA Small Project Awards Program, now in its fifth year, was established to recognize small-project practitioners for the high quality of their work and to promote excellence in small-project design. This award program emphasizes the excellence of small-project design and strives to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects bring to projects, no matter the limits of size and scope.

Small Project Objects (furniture, fixture, or fragment; up to $50,000 construction budget)

Atlas Performing Arts Center-Shadow Signage, Washington, D.C.
CORE architecture + design
The design of the community-based Atlas Performing Arts Center is accented with well-designed, distinctive interior and exterior signage. The exterior signage is a renewed Art Deco cinema marquee that reads “Atlas” in vertical, brightly lit letters. The signage on the interior of the space had to be equally appealing and bold. For the design of the signage outside of the two theaters, the architect used custom-designed shadow letters.

Blatz Bottle Apertures, Milwaukee, WI
Johnsen Schmaling Architects
As part of the conversion of a now defunct brewery into a mixed-use project, a series of bottle doors were designed that separate the 2-story entry lobby from an adjacent public lounge area. Each aperture is 9-feet, 6-inches wide and 9-feet tall, and consists of a welded aluminum frame and 1,590 horizontally stacked empty beer bottles. Using CNC technology, the bottles are held in place by a thin web of precision-milled neoprene rings that are suspended between the members of the aluminum frame. 

Counterbalanced Steel Stair, Bozeman, MT
Intrinsik Architecture
Access to a third-floor loft required double usage of floorspace at its second-floor landing: stairs up and hallway through to a master bedroom suite. This overlap in programming inspired a counterbalanced stair that could be manually pulled down or pushed up as required with a minimum of physical effort. A pre-manufactured aluminum stair was adapted to this function with the use of innovative steel detailing, including a 2.25-inch O.D. adjustable torsion bar running the length of the stair (an idea originating from an automotive industrial design) and a vertical track utilizing modified rubber skateboard wheels to guide the counterbalance up and down the western wall.    

Dominey Pavilion, Decatur, GA
Lightroom Studio LLC
The Dominey Pavilion project consists of a new exterior deck, outdoor living room, garden, carport, and driveway. This project blurs boundaries between Minimalist sculpture, landscape, and architecture, using features like an outdoor fireplace. There are abstract references to Southern vernacular precedents, such as shotgun shacks and dogtrot houses. The split elements – the carport and the outdoor pavilion – refer to the dogtrot with Southeast breezes encouraged to flow though. Careful arborist input was sought and implemented to care for the existing white oak tree. All construction process and materials choices follow the LEED process.

Mobile Chaplet, Fargo, ND
Moorhead & Moorhead

Mobile Chaplet is one of six portable spaces for reflection commissioned to travel to rural communities around North Dakota as part of the Roberts Street Chaplet Project. The conceptual starting points for Mobile Chaplet were the covered wagons that transported settlers to the Midwest. The final pattern consists of two vaulted forms, one nested inside the other. Constructed on a trailer bed, the vaulted canopy is composed of more than 200 30-foot-long thermoplastic composite rods. A bench floats above the trailer bed supported by the rods, which also act as a backrest for the bench.

Cup City, Austin, TX
Legge Lewis Legge

Cup City, a temporary interactive lounge, was constructed over the course of the 3-day Austin City Limits Music Festival using 41 (Rent-A-Fence panels, zip ties, and approximately 25,000 pieces of garbage. The walls of the lounge were slowly filled with disposable containers by concert-goers and volunteers, many of whom spent hours arranging and rearranging patterns in the chain link panel walls. Cup City engaged and displayed a portion of the Festival crowds’ stream of consumption, diverting approximately 25,000 used bottles, cups, and cans into its ever-changing web.

Founders’ Circle Wall at CAMP Rehoboth Community Center, Rehoboth Beach, DE
John Milner Architects Inc.
An integrated collaboration of architecture and environmental graphic design, this unique donor recognition wall celebrates and illuminates contributions made to the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center, a non-profit community service organization dedicated to creating a more positive environment for the gay and lesbian community. The multi-colored donor wall uses a rod suspension system to hug the new multi-purpose room’s curved glass wall. The name of every donor and his/her donation level, from member to founder, is engraved into brightly colored translucent plaques. 

Small Project Structures (up to $500,000 construction budget)

Chapin Studio, Austin, TX
Clayton Levy & Little Architects
This structure serves as a combined art studio and garden shed with adjacent carport. While it recalls Southern historic precedents in its geometry and proportions, the little box deftly absorbs the spirit of its Victorian neighbor and expresses it with a modern sensibility. Wood shingles and siding gently complement the materials of the main house while the metal roof provides rainwater collection. A small porch identifies the entry and addresses the main house.

Dar Luz, GLOW 2008, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Laboratory for Environments, Architecture & Design Inc.
The recipients were invited to participate in GLOW 2008, “An International Forum of Light in Art and Architecture” in Eindhoven, Netherlands. This self-exploratory catwalk was fitted by a series of laser curtains placed in a rhythmic order within the scaffold in order to provoke a sense of exploration. As one traveled through these plains, their mass was scanned in a continually animated couture line and triggered the lighting and sound systems that corresponded to the size and speed of the individual, changing the intensity and pulsation of the ambient light and sound.

Ferrous House, Spring Prairie, WI
Johnsen Schmaling Architects

The Ferrous House demonstrates how an obsolete suburban dwelling can be reinvented, both spatially and aesthetically, to accommodate today’s lifestyles. For budgetary reasons, the house reuses the foundation, plumbing cores, and main perimeter walls of a dilapidated, 1970s structure. The main house volume is wrapped on three sides with a rainscreen of weathering steel panels, protecting the inside of the house from the scrutiny of curious neighbors and the elements; in the back, it extends beyond the building’s perimeter, where it shelters the sides of a linear, south-facing patio.

Hanna Fenichel Center for Child Development, Solana Beach, CA
Stephen Dalton Architects

Imagination, discovery, and the arts play a central role in the center’s curriculum and became an inspiration for the architectural forms of this remodel. A deteriorating mansard roof was removed and replaced with a colorful roof canopy that shelters exterior circulation. The canopy extends towards the street, supporting new signage and giving distinction to the center’s entrance. The canopy’s colorful ceiling panels recall the mosaic-like quality of the children’s art projects found inside the classrooms. 

Media Arts, Cleveland, OH
Robert Maschke Architects
The design is organized as a single bamboo surface that hovers within and wraps through a black box. Both the single gesture and material economy maximize the effect of the architectural image, enhancing its spatial identity. Integral to the surface are programmatic elements, such as video display, signage, seating, and work surface, that articulate deformations in the surface. A field of voids heightens the sense of motion in the folding surface while providing for both sound dampening and return-air locations. A quadruple-paned glass window faces the studio for observation during class time.

Accessory Building, North Vancouver, BC
mcfarlane green biggar Architecture + Design Inc.

The Accessory Building was designed for small office use in a residential neighborhood in the District of North Vancouver. The building contributes to an emerging model of infill mixed-use within established residential neighborhoods and specifically addresses the potential of the home-office. The essence of the building’s public and private roles is addressed in its form, program, and approach to site. The form of the building is a pair of folded L-shaped roofs that mirror each other in section and step up with the topography. 

Emel Residence, Palo Alto, CA
EASA Architecture

Construction of a new 660-square-foot basement under the existing 830-square-foot structure made this a unique and challenging project. The design navigates multiple constraints and solves the expansion problem with an “upside-down” second floor addition that remains entirely within the bounds of the local zoning ordinance that prohibits second-floor additions on small lots. The additions and alterations integrate seamlessly into the style and massing of the existing structure preserving the vernacular cottage aesthetic loved by the owner.  

Public Bus Shelters, New Haven, CT
david thompson Architects
This project involved the construction of three new bus shelters at two sites. Each shelter has been conceived to insure the most effective response to concerns involving security, vandalism, maintenance, and comfort of the ridership. “Green roofs” have been provided on each shelter to insure a pleasing appearance for tenants occupying tall buildings that surround each site. Cantilevered overhangs with sustainable hardwood soffit sheathing have been provided to insure vandal resistance and maximize the covered area for waiting pedestrians.

Swamp Hut, Newton, MA
Moskow Linn Architects
The purpose of this project was to create a structure to facilitate outdoor living and the appreciation of a swamp habitat. Four huts surround a central deck, creating a protective enclosure. Each building component has distinct characteristics appropriate to its use. The Swamp Hut is constructed of standard framing stock with nominal sizes to minimize waste, and is prefabricated.

Trail Restroom, Austin, TX
Miró Rivera Architects

The Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail is a linear park of scenic trails and landscaping that winds its way along the banks of the Colorado River in downtown Austin. The restroom was conceived as a sculpture in a park, a dynamic object along the active trails. Panels are arranged forming a spine that coils at one end to form the restroom walls. The plates are staggered in plan to control views and to allow penetrating light and fresh air. The restroom is handicapped accessible and, in addition to a commode, urinal, sink, and bench inside, it includes a drinking fountain and shower outside. 

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