What does it tell us that just four firms over-whelm-ingly dom-inated the local AIA
design awards that were announced last week? Or that the winning projects were inno-vative, con-temporary
designs that would look smart not just locally, but anywhere in the country? Perhaps that Architecture - with a capital 'A' -has clawed its way back to Philadelphia. It's only too bad the boom has run out of steam.
Once again, Kieran Timberlake
walked away with more prizes than it could carry - four to be exact. The architects, who were named firm of the year last year by the national AIA
, won the Gold Medal for Cellophane House, (photo and story
) their astonishing demonstration project for MoMA's
recent Home Delivery show (story
) on the history of pre
-fabrication. They also took honors for the recently completed Yale Sculpture Building and Gallery and a multi-family project in Ann Arbor, as well as the housing prototype they designed for Brad Pitt's New Orleans reconstruction effort, Make it Right. (story here
It's to be expected that Kieran Timberlake
would have a good showing at the awards, so the bigger surprise is that the young Kensington
-based Interface Studio
took home three awards, all for unbuilt
projects - a Girard
Avenue supermarket (which I reviewed
, right), a gallery design and a proposed 100k house.
They won a Silver medal in 2006 for their Sheridan Street affordable housing design (reviewed here
), which happily broke ground this summer.
Right behind Interface was Wallace Roberts & Todd
with two awards. Largely a planning firm, they were the obvious choice to receive the Community Design/Planning award for their work on the Penn Praxis
Delaware Waterfront vision.
But they also picked up an honor award
for their downtown transit center in Charlottesville
The fourth familiar face was Erdy McHenry
, for its charming cafe on Independence Mall that finally began providing sustenance to famished tourists this summer. I'm happy to say I also reviewed that one.
Rounding out the group of familiar faces was DIGSAU
, which won for a training and education center in Wilmington, and John Milner Architects,
in the Preservation category, for its work on Nemours
Mansion. Two architects, Darryn
Edwards and John Cluver
, shared the Young Archtiect
award. Arlene and Dan Matzkin
received the John Harbeson
When you think about it, it's been an amazingly good year for Philadelphia architects.