2010 Inform Awards

Now in their 19th year, the Inform Awards continue to recognize the best in INTERIOR DESIGN, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, and OBJECT DESIGN

In total, 15 projects (out of 185 entries) were recognized for their rigor and insight into program, site, and craftsmanship. “This was such a good batch of projects,” said jury chair Judith Kinnard, FAIA, “and the region was represented well—a fact that made our decision making process very difficult.” Rounding out the jury, Steve Dumez, FAIA, of the New Orleans firm Eskew+Dumez + Ripple, and Wayne Troyer, AIA, of the New Orleans firm Wayne Troyer Architects reviewed and critiqued each project. Mr. Troyer  hosted the jury deliberations at his office in the Warehouse District of New Orleans on February 22, 2010.

Look for a special feature in the May/June, 2010 print edition of Inform, showcasing all of the winning projects.


Award of Honor

Cannon Design::Richmond Olympic Oval

Richmond, British Columbia, Canada | Completed 2008

Olympic architecture defines its own field of design and allows cities to make a global statement. Seven miles south of Vancouver, Richmond has staked its claim with “one of the most beautiful projects, inside and out,” according to one juror. A jury favorite, the building’s use of site-harvested wood, low-VOC solvents, and non-PVC tiles helped qualify the building for LEED-Silver. “It’s compelling for many reasons, chiefly the minimal use of materials and color to offset the structure,” noted another juror. Regardless, it will surely give Russia a run for its architectural money in 2014. W. Kenneth Wiseman, AIA, Principal | Contractor: Dominion Construction Company, Inc. | Photography: Derek Lepper


David Jameson Architect::Matryoshka House

Bethesda, Md. | Completed 2008

“The interior draws from the exterior, but this house seems to be conceived from the inside,” observed one juror. The conceptual center of the project also happens to be the literal center: a meditation chamber suspended over the everyday activities of the house. “This house really engages us from the core,” noted another juror, “and its spaces seem to radiate out from that point.” Whether the volumes radiate out or are “nested” within, as the project brief describes, there is a definite energy to the house that all members of the jury felt—if only remotely through images. David Jameson, FAIA, Principal | Matthew Jarvis, Project Architect | Photography: Paul Warchol

Awards of Merit

Gensler (Washington, D.C.)::Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers

Washington, D.C. | Completed 2008

For the jury, this project demonstrated how materials can define spatiality. “Polished, refined, and incredibly well done,” noted one juror, “I could certainly work here.” The jury was universally impressed with how something as banal as a window or door casement was approached with great care. “Here, somebody clearly said, ‘we’re going to really frame this moment and make something special.’” Ultimately, the design team transformed 27,000 square-feet of office space to make each view special—even, as the project brief notes, views that did not include a window to the outside.  Project Team: Mariela Buendia-Corrochano, Hansoo Kim, Steve Martin, Raria Rucks, Carey Ryder, Robert Sollinger, Andrea Cleveland, and Shareya Mehan | Contractor: Rand Construction | Photographer: Benny Chan

Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect::Suite 4511

Washington, D.C. | Completed 2007

This project was about tectonics and finding strategies to unify parts of the program. Marble, stainless steel, and white oak draw together the closet, vanity and sink, lavatory, shower, and tub. “Functionally and spatially, this is a successful space,” applauded one juror. The use of natural light along one edge was a particularly sensitive detail, which creates a vital link to the outside. Ultimately, the jury felt that this space is defined by the design team’s ability to create a total environment, in which all of the parts worked well together. Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Principal | Claire L. Andreas, Project Architect | Photography: Maxwell MacKenzie

Richard Williams Architect::Restoration of the Luis Marden House

McLean, Va. | Completed 2006

Few houses demonstrate ideas of prospect and refuge within the landscape better than work that came out of Frank Lloyd Wright’s office. As a typical Usonian (completed mere weeks after Wright’s death in 1959), the house is about a certain economy of means and materials. As part of its complete restoration, the design team approached the furniture, built-ins and upholstery, carpets, fixtures, and fittings with respect and, the jury felt, a sense of ownership. “To knock-off a bunch of Wright pieces from the period certainly was an option, but, instead, they asked ‘what would the original owners have done?’” Richard Williams, AIA, Principal | Contractor: Adams General Contractors, Inc. | Photography: Nikolas Koenig

Bonstra|Haresign Architects::Hello Cupcake

Washington, D.C. | Completed 2008

Texture, color, and olfactory temptation drove the creation of Hello Cupcake, which is more than your average confectioner. Taking the cupcake as a starting point, the design team drew out the elements of its character in the icing swirls for the gypsum counter face and toppings as backlit totems. Pointing out the minimal jewel cases  in the front window (each displaying exactly one cupcake) and the way one is drawn into the space, the jury admired the design team’s attention to the street. Noted one juror, “no matter what I’m looking at, I think, ‘mmm.’” William J. Bonstra, AIA, Design Principal | David Drobnis, AIA, Project Architect | Brian Forehand, Interior Designer | Photography: Maxwell MacKenzie

Gensler::Baltimore Office

Baltimore, Md. | Completed 2009

Bringing people together, creating local identity within a multi-national firm, and showcasing innovative design strategies—three clear, if complex, goals that Gensler’s Baltimore team set out to accomplish. Taking full advantage of the site to bring light into the middle of the space, the jury felt that the design team both expanded the studio’s spaciousness while unifying the space. Green accents further connect elements of the interior space and the firm’s plaza-side benches and bike racks. The subtle use of color, recycled materials, and energy-efficient systems captured the jury’s attention as a sophisticated and enviable office environment. James S. Camp, AIA, Managing Director | Contractor: Wilhelm Commercial Builders | Photography: Michael Moran

KUBE Architecture::Forest House

Great Falls, Va. | Completed 2008

For this home renovation and addition, the design team chose a tower form to draw together old and new. As the land drops away along a steep hillside, the tower rises up to capture, among other things, a double-height library. The book shelves, which double as the adjacent stairway’s wall, integrate the anticipation of ascension with that of scanning dozens of displayed books. “This is a really strong feature in the project,” noted one juror. “Imagine catching glimpses of that space at eye level, all of a sudden, while you’re climbing those stairs.” Janet Bloomberg, AIA, Principal | Contractor: M.T. Puskar Construction | Photography: Paul Burk


Award of Merit

David Jameson Architect::Tea House

Bethesda, Md. | Completed 2009

Hovering in the corner of a suburban lot, a number of activities gather around this small glass and bronze structure. Meditation chamber, stage, tea house, and oversized lantern—it evokes the idea of the architectural folly. But, this is no mere novelty from Stowe or Parc Monceau or Versailles. This project stands at the center of a family’s life, where they conduct musical recitals together and retreat to be alone. “Beautifully detailed,” noted one juror, “and the otherwise slippery idea of tranquility came through nicely in the end.” David Jameson, FAIA, Principal | Christopher Cabacar, Project Architect | Photography: Paul Warchol

VOA Associates::VW Headquarters Stairway

Herndon, Va. | Completed 2008

Derived from Volkswagen’s iconic logo, the central lobby stairs at VW’s North American headquarters is a piece of sculpture in its own right. “It uses the corporate identity in a way that one cannot necessarily imagine at first,” said one juror. “But, what they were then able to do with that reinterpretation was to create a compelling environment that connects a series of spaces.” Praising the engineering and detailing of the stairs, another juror concluded, “I think the main thing that we are really responding to here is the strong sense of what this inventive space has become beyond a mere utility.” John G. Jessen, AIA, Managing Principal | Contractor: Rand Construction Corporation | Photography: Nick Merrick

Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect::Watergate Apartment Wall

Washington, D.C. | Completed 2009

Within the envelope of one of Washington’s most iconic buildings, the design team gutted the entire unit right down to the concrete floor slab. In utilizing the low, horizontal prospect and barely eight-foot ceilings, the design team made the space feel as open and expansive as possible. The key, for the jury, is its unique dividing wall—shaped like a “V” in plan—that “activates the conversation between public and private spaces.” So important was this singular gesture that the members of the jury voted to recognize the project in the Object Design category rather than its original Interiors Design category. Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Principal | Sarah Mailhot, Project Architect | Photography: Hoachlander Davis Photography and Paul Warchol Photography


Award of Honor

Nelson Byrd Woltz::Orongo Station Homestead Gardens

Muriwai, New Zealand | Completed 2009

Small, intimate moments contrast with the larger landforms and sculpted lawns at this 130 year old property. This project is not about difference, but unification as a series of “garden rooms” unfold, one after the other, to register New Zealand’s rich ecology. Colonial interventions, like the English perennial garden, are mere feet from the native bush species restoration that encircles a quarter of the site. Threaded throughout are paths that take the visitor from Cook’s scurvy grass, past a series of shelter belts, and into some of the earthworks, themselves. The strength of this project, the jury felt, is the diversity of the landscape and the unity and clarity of the concept. Thomas L. Woltz, Principal-in-Charge | Breck A. Gastinger, Senior Project Manager | Photography: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

Nelson Byrd Woltz::Western Albemarle Garden

Albemarle County, Va. | Completed 2005

The design firm’s great achievement in the project, noted the jury, was the sense of continuity within the landscape. “The way in which the landscape flows through the house and ties the two sides of this project together creates a system,” observed one juror. From an upper pasture clearing to a second-growth, deciduous forest, the existing house is perched between two worlds. Mediation, siting, and conveyance defined the conceptual core of the project. As the jury pointed out, the task of organizing a landscape is made harder with the decision to foster existing connections rather than invent them. The design team certainly rose to the occasion. Warren T. Byrd, Jr., FASLA, Principal-in-Charge | Christina Michas and J. Hunter McCardle, Project Managers | Maria Tucker, Staff Designer | Photography: Darren Higgins

Award of Merit

Nelson Byrd Woltz::Citygarden

St. Louis, Mo. | Completed 2009

“What is so positive about this project,” said one juror, “is that it brings people downtown into a collection of different kinds of spaces.” The guiding principle here is accessibility. Intimate areas for conversation, broad swaths of space for meandering, and a series of connective devices cultivate any number of programmed and un-programmed uses. A range of sculptures and vegetation define its tripartite plan: the precincts mimic our southeasterly journey to the Mississippi River from bluff to flood plain to river terrace. “Activating city centers is hard,” said another juror, “but this is a great start.” Warren T. Byrd, Jr., FASLA, Principal-in-Charge | Sara C. Myhre, Mary W. Wolf, and Breck A. Gastinger, Senior Project Managers | Photography: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing

Nelson Byrd Woltz::New Landscape, University of Virginia School of Architecture

Charlottesville, Va. | Completed 2008

The jury admired this project’s responsiveness to seasonal shifts and the design firm’s attention to texture and variety. Four distinct zones work with the site and newly enlarged building to create terraces, workspaces, and a bio-retention basin. The new landscape draws on Piedmont region plants, walls, pavings, and paths that, according to the project brief, “evoke regional geologies.” As presented, the project had two obvious strengths for the jury: its careful modulation of topography and context and its potential as an instructional tool. Warren T. Byrd, Jr., FASLA, Principal-in-Charge | Todd Shallenberger, ASLA, Senior Project Manager | Serena Nelson, Staff Designer | Photography: Scott Smith | Photography: Maxwell MacKenzie

Open to anyone in Inform Magazine’s primary circulation area (Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, and North Carolina), the program recognizes design excellence in the mid-Atlantic region through Awards of Honor and Awards of Merit. Architects, landscape architects, furniture designers, industrial designers, professionals young and old, faculty, and students were encouraged to submit their work for consideration. Interested in submitting? Look for next year’s CALL FOR ENTRIES in November, 2010.

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