The 2021 Design Awards jury met in early January and selected 23 winners across four categories: Architecture, Interiors, Projects, and Urban Design. Notably, this year’s jury dissolved Sustainability as a separate category, arguing that sustainability considerations should be a fundamental tenet of all projects cited for design excellence. The jury had intense discussions about what other criteria they would use to select the award winners, considering questions such as: “How should design operate?” “What does the project contribute more broadly?” “How are we learning from this project?”
With a focus on how a project might give back to the community, the jury proposed that future judging criteria expand sustainability to an idea of ecology that includes social systems. And, while impressed with the quality of the work submitted, the jurors challenged AIA New York Chapter members to share more high-quality public buildings that were broadly successful and impactful for many. They had this advice to those submitting awards next year: Take the time to tell the story of a project, and show how it’s working both inside and out.
Top projects received Honor Awards, with Merit Awards going to other highly competitive projects in the same category, and four projects were recognized with Citation Awards for outstanding work on a specific design element. The jury was unanimous in its selection of ikon.5 architect’s Newark Housing Authority’s Training, Recreation, and Education Center for the top design award among all the projects, elevating it from an Architecture Honor award to the overall Best in Competition winner. “This building managed to focus on both design and sustainability; it shows what great design can look like. It’s not trying to be better than anything, but trying to be a part of something,” said Juror Stephen Gray.
The awards were announced at an online symposium in January, and juror Julie Eizenberg closed the session with a plea for pluralism: “There isn’t a ‘right way’ and a ‘best way.’ There just need to be thoughtful contributions.”
Congratulations to all the 2021 winners! We hope to celebrate together at an Honors and Awards Luncheon on July 13, and with an exhibition of the winners at the Center for Architecture later this year.
Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Principal, Marlon Blackwell Architects; Fay Jones Chair in Architecture and Distinguished Professor, Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
Julie Eizenberg, FAIA, RAIA, LFRAIA, Founding Principal, Koning Eizenberg, Santa Monica, CA
Stephen Gray, Assoc. AIA, Associate Professor of Urban Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Founder, Grayscale Collaborative, Cambridge, MA
Andrea Love, AIA, LEED Fellow Principal, Director of Building Science, Payette, Boston, MA
Maria Paz de Moura Castro, Founding Partner, Rizoma Arquitetura, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Francesca Perani, Founder, Francesca Perani Enterprise; Co-founder & President, RebelArchitette, Bergamo, Italy