The AIA New Orleans welcomed a record number of entries for the 2011 Design Awards, 100 Years of Excellence in Design. The categories included Interior Architecture, Master Planning, Divine Detail, Project, Architecture, Adaptive Reuse, and Juror Favorite. A complete list of the 2011 AIA New Orleans Design Awards and jurors comments following the break.
Award of Honor: Architecture 930 Poydras by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple
Presentation: “To design a mid-rise residential tower over parking on a prominent boulevard for commerce in the CBD of New Orleans is a challenging proposition. With this project, the designers created a formal object with a powerful presence that enriches the streetscape where it resides among many non-descript commercial high-rise buildings and vacant lots.
“The jury debated, but in the end appreciated, the decision-making design process that led to a continuous skin from parking to residential programs, thus emphasizing the formal qualities of the structure rather than the programmatic. Particularly, the jury appreciated the public gathering space which transitions the residents from parking to their homes in a way that mimics traditional New Orleans neighborhood patterns and weaves the outdoor “courtyard” through the building to a public observation space visible from Poydras. This elegant move allows this function to be read from the exterior in a contemporary way and provides relief to the solid massing of the form.
“The jury found the skin to possess a captivating quality of changing opacity and transparency depending upon the time of day and atmospheric conditions as well as an interesting play between horizontality and verticality that is so often unaddressed in the omnipresent grids of the surrounding buildings.”
Additional Jury Comments: Integrating a parking deck in an urban space is challenging. A continuous, elegant façade on the building front is used to create well developed, proportional relationships between the given program and the building block and between the block and the urban space. Introducing an elevated park between the parking deck and the apartments is a strong conceptual response to the given program.
Part of the responsibility of living in a city that has such a rich and plentiful variety of historical material, as well as complex and coherent ways of moving through it, is realizing the need to push continuously for new and even radical ways of interpreting that landscape. Situated along the city’s corporate strip, the project’s bold visual and formal statement “ups the ante” for high-profile projects, while respecting — even improving upon— some of the city’s best traditions, ranging from the scale and proportion of windows to the subtle networks that connect social and private space.
Award of Honor: Architecture Holly Grove Pavilion by CRG Architecture, Cordula Roser Gray
Presentation: “On a small footprint and even smaller budget, this pavilion provides a literal expression of the various, salient features of community gardening in New Orleans, serving as both gateway and introduction to the goals of the organization. The project manages materials, details and hardware in an elegant way. Equally important is the evidence that there’s a next generation of designers that realizes their role in the day-to-day needs of tomorrow’s sustainable communities.”
Additional Jury Comments: A simple program that is used as an opportunity to create a highly complex space, characterized by different levels of opacity and perspective effects. Spaces are created from a minimum amount of very carefully selected materials: wood and steel – environmentally friendly materials that are joined using a simple pallet of extremely elegant details. It’s the engineer who develops green technologies – but it’s the architect who in this example translates that into an aesthetic quality and into space.
Award of Honor: Architecture L.B. Landry High School by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple
Presentation: “The jury recognized this project for numerous reasons, the first of which is for the appropriateness of its design language for the time in which we live and its jettisoning of traditional school typologies and vernacular articulations.
“The jury applauded not only the massing and play between solid forms and void, but also the parti and planning organization of the school with its well-designed public courtyard – ‘front yard’ — and its segregation of higher and lower levels which give each group a ‘place’ to identify as their own.
“The architects should be commended for recognizing that high school is a time of memories and memorable spaces contribute to this end. The main lobby with its ‘theater’ of stairs, light, and view provides such a space. The jury found the ceiling to be particularly pleasing and the restraint in the selection of materials and detailing to be compelling.
“Finally, the jury recognizes the architects’ skillful articulation of the skin in both detail and fenestration in a way that provides a majority of the classrooms’ lighting requirements with natural light and supports a strong sustainability strategy.”
Additional Jury Comments: The school is organized around a courtyard. A powerful relation between court yard and the distribution of the program and circulation can be read as a successful translation of a very clear conceptual idea which also informs spatial qualities, day lighting strategies and a very sophisticated and outstanding level of detail.
Award of Merit: Interior Architecture Corporate Office, J&R Amusement by Lee Ledbetter & Associates
Presentation: “This project for the corporate headquarters office presented a uniformly crisp palette, with strong references to classic mid-century modern space planning, use of glass, and selection of furniture. The jury noted that as is sometimes the case with interiors projects, the documentation gave deceptively little clue as to either the building envelope or, by extension, the project setting, but paid an atypically high degree of attention to details, to seams and connections, to color and material palettes, as well as to the selection of building systems. Careful selection and —even more importantly— careful editing was evident in both the project and the presentation.”
Award of Merit: Interior Architecture Storypod, The Neighborhood Story Project by Tulane City Center, Scott Bernhard
Presentation: “This student led design / build project in the 7th ward neighborhood creates an intimate, inventive space for the recording, publishing, display, and sharing of neighborhood stories. The jury loved the clarity and efficacy of this installation – what could have been a plain bench, wall, and door in less inspired minds has been rendered in a handsome collection of multiple functions, transparency, privacy, honest materiality, and resourceful detailing. This is an excellent example of teaching architecture through making, and demonstrates how a design can be an artful gift to the sustenance of neighborhood culture.”
Additional Jury Comments: With a minimal budget, few materials, and simple details a system was invented that combines the complex program of architectural elements such as wall, door, shelf, table, etc. The effect of floating boxes is very convincing, but then interrupted by the door frame.
Award of Merit: Interior Architecture Yoga Studio, Sylvi Beaumont by Errol Barron/Michael Toups Architect
Presentation: “This conversion of a historic building into a contemporary yoga studio impressed the jury for the clarity of the planning and the preservation of the existing roof structure and masonry walls. While the jury debated at length about the choice of fire-engine red for walls and ceiling in a yoga studio, we agreed that we were under-qualified yoga practitioners, but found merit in the strength of the introduction of the new exposed stair, lifting patrons up and through the roof trusses, as well as down through a clean cut in the main floor.”
Additional Jury Comments: Using the stair opening to create a vertical transparency and to connect spaces —not just through circulation but also visually— is very convincing. The detailing and the black paint of the stair allow for a very clear differentiation between new and existing.
Award of Merit: Master Planning Holly Grove Market & Farm by CRG Architecture, Cordula Roser Gray
Presentation: “In the Carrolton-Hollygrove Neighborhood, an area in desperate need of revitalization and direct incentives for healthy living, this project is a new Growers Market and Farm, providing an inviting and accessible setting, healthy food, a demonstration site for sustainable practices, and a jobs program for the immediate community. The jury felt that this was a pitch-perfect model of collaboration between a community development group, business enterprises, non-profit foundations, and a university, to inject not just fresh food, but fresh environmental and design vitality to a neighborhood in need. The jury noted that this was not just an effective design catalyst but an elegantly planned and realized project, with an appropriate economy of means.”
Award of Merit: Master Planning A.L. Davis Park by CRG Architecture, Cordula Roser Gray
Presentation: “The proposal for the remaking of an existing neighborhood park takes what is a rough-andtumble site of an open field and some basketball courts and introduces a finely textured collection of new activities, thresholds, built enclosures, canopies, and spatial definitions. The jury appreciated the feet-on the-ground attitude of soliciting direct community involvement and design input, paired with a vision to create a community place that is greater than just the sum of its programmatic parts. The design leverages given conditions to their fullest while adding a rich layering of organization, material, and texture with a modest but coherent series of gestures.”
Additional Jury Comments: This is a project that takes on programmatic elements that exhibit a wide range of scale, immediate surroundings that lack the legible fabric that’s typical in much of New Orleans and, of course, budget limitations.
Award of Honor: Master Planning Lafitte Greenway Sustainable Water Design by Waggonner & Ball Architects
Presentation: “This proposal for a 3.1 mile greenway running North-South from Canal Boulevard to the French Quarter, intersecting the Bayou St. John along the way, envisions the adaptive re-vitalization of historic navigational canals and train right-of-ways into a cohesively interwoven bicycle, pedestrian greenspace, and water-management system. The jury found confidence in the historical research, adaptation of proven Dutch principles of landscape and water design, and the celebration of a design attitude that prudently balances complex urban development with the realities of natural systems. This is exactly the type of integrated environmental and urban planning that fellow American cities need to commission, study, and implement.”
Additional Jury Comments: To use water as the main organizational element in a master plan is a very powerful idea in the context of New Orleans location and history. The project addresses the complexity of master planning and explains of how the idea of the project might change the urban space of the city on multiple level
Award of Merit: Divine Detail Gutenmacher Apartment by AEDS, Ammar Eloueini
Presentation: “This proposal is for a single flight of stairs, and an associated guardrail. The jury noted that there were really two projects in this submission – one concept and materiality for the cantilevered orthogonal wood and Corian treads, and a distinctively different proposition in the planar cellular guard screen. One jury member noted that “It’s the only project that is using the potential of digital fabrication tools to inform new architectural effects” while another jury member remained skeptical of the unresolved marriage of the two systems, in particular the actual attachment of the screen to the treads. Overall, the jury appreciated the intent of the staircase to articulate not just a gradient between two floors, but also between space-making strategies and techniques of craftsmanship.”
Award of Merit: Juror Favorite Cart Coop by Crookedworks, Carey Clouse and Zachary Lamb
Presentation: “The jury selected this project for a Special Award for two main reasons. First, the fact that it could reasonably fit into any of the categories in the Awards Brief and —given the extreme modesty of its program— do an excellent job of holding its own. Secondly, and maybe more importantly, every aspect of the presentation of this project contributes to its overall argument and design intention: setting, photography, and graphics. Where it’s often the case with many projects that realities of construction prevent a faithful representation of the original intention, every instance of the Cart CoOp remains true to its vision, composed of equal amounts of dignity and humor.”
Additional Jury Comments: A shopping cart probably used for buying chicken for dinner has through advanced fabrication technology been converted into a chicken coop. We clearly have lost contact with our natural environment – the most advanced technology seems irrelevant when it comes to our problematic, highly instable relationship we have with our planet. It’s not quite architecture yet, but it’s addressing architecture’s dilemma.