CRE N Illinois

AIA Chicago recognizes architectural excellence at Designight

Plumbers Local 130 UA Training Center by Gensler. Plumbers Local 130 UA Training Center by Gensler.
Midtown Athletic Club by DMAC. Midtown Athletic Club by DMAC.
Optimo Hat Company by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Optimo Hat Company by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
University of Chicago North Residential Commons by Studio Gang. University of Chicago North Residential Commons by Studio Gang.
Unity Temple by Harboe Architects. Unity Temple by Harboe Architects.
Legacy Charter Schools by Lothan Van Hook DeStefano Architecture. Legacy Charter Schools by Lothan Van Hook DeStefano Architecture.

The Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Chicago) honored exceptional architectural projects at Designight 2018, the organization’s 63rd annual Design Excellence Awards ceremony and celebration. More than 1,000 architecture, engineering and construction industry leaders and professionals attended this year’s event at Navy Pier, which was hosted by Chicago television personality, producer and WTTW host, Geoffrey Baer.

“Each year, we are proud to honor Chicago architects who continue to meet ever-changing project demands with progressive approaches that not only pay homage to rich architectural traditions but also address evolving global and cultural shifts with diverse and innovative solutions,” said AIA Chicago executive vice president Zurich Esposito, Hon. AIA.

Thirty-three awards were presented to projects in four categories: Distinguished Building, Divine Detail, Interior Architecture and Unbuilt FORWARD. In its first year, the new Unbuilt FORWARD Award recognizes architectural design for projects that will not see completion but put a focus on relevant social, cultural and environmental challenges, as well as technological innovations that will drive the architecture profession into the future.

Twelve nationally renowned architects comprised the juries and evaluated hundreds of entries before selecting the winning projects. Each winning project received a specific distinction with the award. Honor Awards denote AIA’s highest distinction, emphasizing that Honor Award projects embody all elements of excellent design. Citations of Merit denote accomplished projects where the jury may have been divided. The Special Recognition category is by juror nomination, in which a project is recognized for a specific strength or accomplishment.

Distinguished Building Honor Award winners include Studio Gang’s University of Chicago North Residential Commons, Lothan Van Hook DeStefano Architecture’s Legacy Charter Schools, STL Architects’ The French International School, Gensler’s expansion of the Plumbers Local 130 UA Training Center, EXP’s Washington / Wabash CTA Station and Harboe Architects’ restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple.

“This year, in particular, we saw many remarkable institutional projects that reimagined educational spaces as vibrant, inspirational destinations that truly have the ability to revitalize a community. These projects went beyond function—demonstrating unique details, intelligent concepts and distinction in architecture,” noted the jury.

Other awards recognized projects, all within Chicago, ranging from innovative manufacturing facilities to a major lifestyle center.

With DMAC’s Honor Award-winning renovation of Midtown Athletic Club, what was the largest indoor tennis club in the country transformed to the nation’s largest lifestyle center. Finishes and materials were salvaged from the old club and reused for sustainability value as well as emotional value. For example, original copper from the old fireplace and oak paneling from the lockers were repurposed as featured design elements.

Designed by Perkins+Will, the headquarters for global bicycle component manufacturer SRAM provides the company with an active and high-performance environment. The property connects employees through collaborative spaces and centralized social areas and reinforces their unique culture with a working lab and machine shop.

The Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed workshop and headquarters for Opitmo Hat Factory can be found in a renovated, hundred-year-old, decommissioned firehouse on the city’s South Side where the contemporary design mingles with historic elements as well as both antique and modern machinery. The project netted an Honor Award for interior architecture.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Peter Landon, FAIA, founder of Landon Bone Baker Architects (LBBA), established in 1987. With more than 40 years in practice, Landon’s portfolio includes a multitude of urban development and affordable housing projects. He attributes LBBA’s success and ability to offer designs that address the needs of diverse populations to its long-term relationships with developers, housing advocates and the local community.