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March 10, 2009
by Lisa Delgado

Event: 2009 AIANY Design Awards: Jury Symposium and Announcement of Winners
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.23.09
Speakers: Brian Healy, AIA — Principal, Brian Healy Architects; David Miller, FAIA — Partner, The Miller|Hull Partnership; Terence Riley, AIA — Director, Miami Art Museum & Partner, K/M; Randy Brown, FAIA, LEED AP — Principal in Charge, Randy Brown Architects; Ivonne Garcia, AIA — Associate Principal, AECOM; Eva Jiricna, Hon. FAIA — Principal, Eva Jiricna Architects; Peter Chermayeff, FAIA — Principal, Peter Chermayeff and Poole; Rahul Mehrotra — Principal, Rahul Mehrotra Associates; Dominique Perrault, Hon. FAIA — Principal, Dominique Perrault Architecture
Moderator: Barry Bergdoll — The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art
Organizer: AIA Design Awards Committee
Sponsors: Benefactor: ABC Imaging; Patrons: Cosentino North America; Syska Hennessy Group; The Rudin Family; Lead Sponsors: Dagher Engineering; The Durst Organization; HOK; Mancini Duffy; Sponsors: AKF Group; Building Contractors Association; FXFOWLE Architects; Hopkins Foodservice; Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti; JFK&M Consulting Group; KI; Langan Engineering & Environmental Services; Mechoshade Systems; Rogers Marvel Architects; Studio Daniel Libeskind; Tishman Realty & Construction; VJ Associates; Weidlinger Associates; Zumtobel Lighting/International Lights

Architecture Honor Award-winning Dutchess County Residence by Allied Works Architecture (left); Interiors Merit Award-winning Nike Genealogy Of Speed by Lynch/Eisinger/Design (right).

Helene Binet (left); © Albert Vecerka/Esto (right); Courtesy AIANY

Since this year the AIANY Design Awards were held the night after the Oscars, perhaps the comparisons were inevitable: “This is our Academy Awards moment,” quipped chapter president Sherida Paulsen, FAIA. But luckily the jurors and moderator Barry Bergdoll of the Museum of Modern Art refrained from performing musical numbers. Instead, they offered discussions of the winning projects, culled from more than 400 submissions, and advice on mistakes to avoid in submitting for the awards.

There was no Slumdog Millionaire-style sweep, but some names did pop up more than once. Allied Works Architecture won an Honor Award in the Architecture category for a guest house in Dutchess County, NY, and a Merit Award for the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan. Slides of the former showed a house with a steel frame that continues beyond its actual volume, as if suggesting the presence of a phantom extension. Juror Brian Healy, AIA, compared the effect with work of Sol LeWitt and enthused about how the house “allowed these kinds of ghost structures to float out and frame unoccupied space.”

The Museum of Arts and Design might seem a more surprising choice, given its sometimes-tepid critical reception, but the jurors defended it for making the best of a tricky adaptive reuse project and for reinvigorating the idea of the vertical museum. The jurors also praised Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Honor Award-winning design for Alice Tully Hall, done in collaboration with FXFOWLE Architects, as a project that used the bones of an existing space to create something transformative. Thomas Phifer and Partners was another double winner in Architecture, with Honor Awards for the Millbrook House in Millbrook, NY, which skillfully exploits its verdant views, and the Susan and Raymond Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University in Houston, TX, a transparent, sustainable pavilion that the jurors appreciated for the way it responds to the spirit of the surrounding architecture without slavish mimicry.

The Interiors jury chose not to give any Honor Awards, simply conferring eight Merit Awards. “Not one really rose up above the others,” Randy Brown, FAIA, LEED AP, explained. “I think we were just looking for that ‘wow’ project… and I didn’t feel like we saw it.” Still, the Merit winners include some memorable entries, such as Nike Genealogy of Speed by Lynch/Eisinger/Design, a design featuring one wall whose fluid bent-steel forms might evoke the curves of a running shoe, providing a striking contrast with the rectilinear forms of product displays on the opposite wall. Brown praised the design for “pushing the technology of architecture.” Another winner in NYC, the Finger Apartment by noroof architects, stood out for its ingenious space-saving devices in a 540-square-foot apartment for a family of four.

Among the Projects honorees was the Honor Award-winning Summer Blow-Up by Stageberg Architecture PLLC: Bade Stageberg Cox. The installation’s mushroom-like inflatable structures did not win the Young Architects Program competition to design the P.S.1 courtyard this summer, but the jurors were charmed by their humor and transience. The Merit Award-winning Marriage Bureau by Johannes M. P. Knoops envisioned a spot to tie the knot on the roof of the Manhattan Municipal Building, featuring grand views of the city skyline. “Why not celebrate the city and marriage at the same time?” said Peter Chermayeff, FAIA, drawing laughter from the crowd.

In a Q&A period, OCULUS editor Kristen Richards asked jury members about pluses and pitfalls for future applicants to keep in mind in preparing their submissions. This resulted in an outpouring of tips: Put your Big Idea in the first sentence — you’ll lose the jurors’ attention if you don’t grab it right away. Test your portfolio by showing it to friends and colleagues, to make sure your project and the intention behind it are easily comprehensible. Dark, blurry images don’t serve you well — presentation counts. And last but not least, read the instructions: In a blind competition, don’t include your firm name in the submission materials.

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