The Fort Worth chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced its 2015 design award winners this week at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Winning projects included a theater, three schools, two private homes and a hypothetical playground.
The selections were made by a jury of three architects led by Randy Brown of RBA in Omaha, Neb., along with Emily Little from Clayton & Little in Austin and Bill Aylor of Lake/Flato in San Antonio.
Jurors had the discretion to choose as many honor and merit awards as they deemed worthy from the 31 submissions. They gave three honor awards and four merit awards. Two studio awards were also presented, for unbuilt projects. These are often conceptual designs or projects for competitions.
Taking home the highest level of achievement, the honors award, were Greg Ibañez of Ibañez Architecture for Amphibian Stage Productions, a pro bono project for the local theater; Norman D. Ward for a private residence; and Tommy Stewart with Architecture West and Architecture for Humanity for Ceverine School in Haiti.
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The theater and school projects were done on meager budgets. Ibañez brought the theater for $50 a square foot by using off-the-shelf products from Home Depot. “I admired the clarity and thought that went into every wall and every detail with very little money to spend,” Brown said.
We already loved the project and then we realized the architect donated his services, what a gift to the community
Juror Emily Little, referring to Greg Ibañez’s work for Amphibian Stage Productions
The school in Haiti designed by Stewart was built using available materials and community volunteers. Still the judges were impressed with the quality of the outcome. “This project was very touching on so many levels, to see what they started with, and what they ended with, it made your heart sing. There were submissions that talked about how architecture was going to help the community, but this project was so far above the others. This was the most amazing project we saw today,” Little said.
It was humble and noble at the same time
Juror Bill Aylor, referring to the Ceverine School in Haiti
Jurors were also quite complimentary of the home Ward designed. “There were a lot of really nice houses submitted this year, but this project rose up to the top right away. The simplicity of the detail, the absolute sublime use of materials and placement, it was a beautifully composed project,” Little said.
Merit awards were given to three project by VLK Architects: the Hollenstein Career and Technology Center, Weatherford College Wise County and Near South Studios. The judges found the first two to be well organized with a good resolution to all the necessary components and felt they both fit well in the landscape. Near South Studios was noted for its integration of old and new.
Ibañez also took home a merit award for his own home, a contemporary addition to an old rock bungalow. Jurors acknowledged how challenging the project was and thought the new meshed with the old so successfully that on the inside it was hard to tell which was which.
The two studio awards were given to a playground structure designed by Bart Shaw and a warming hut by Konstrukcio Studio. Jurors thought Shaw’s rainbow-hued structures were much more engaging than run-of-the-mill playground equipment. And although the native Texans were baffled by the need of a warming shelter, they liked the use of found materials and thought it “had a spark.”
“I’m sure the winners thought the jurors were brilliant,” Brown said, “and for the nonwinners, ‘Submit again, there’ll be a better jury next year.’ ”