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27 Projects Win 2019 AIANY Design Awards

Tata Consultancy Services, Banyan Park. Image © Michael Moran Tata Consultancy Services, Banyan Park. Image © Michael Moran

The New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects has presented 27 projects with 2019 Design Awards. AIANY announced the results after two days of deliberations by a a jury of independent architects, educators, critics, and planners. For each of the five categories, winning projects were granted either an “Honor” or “Merit” award, and were chosen for their design quality, innovation and technique.

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I’m Nine Years Old – The Birth Year

Happy Birthday to me … and by “me”, I mean this website, Life of an Architect. On January 14th, 2010 my life was irrevocably changed, mostly for the better, when I decided to start a blog site and start talking about what it meant to be, and work with, an architect.

In my effort to recognize this milestone, I thought I would take this entire week and write a blog post where I will isolate a year (or two or three) and talk about what happened, what was important, and why it matters. Consider it the ultimate peek behind the scenes … you might just be surprised by what you find out.


Life of an Architect – Year One (2010)

Best decision I made was to name my site ‘Life of an Architect’ … a decision at the time I didn’t consider much. I came up with the name based on a class I took as a Freshman when I was in college. That class was Architecture and Society and was taught by the great (and extremely popular) Larry Speck, FAIA. On the first day of class, before any of us knew who Larry was and just how important a figure he is within the architectural landscape of Texas and beyond, he moseyed on stage and told us that we were in “Architecture and Society” and that he named the class this because the “Architecture” part was self-evident, we were going to be talking about architecture, and “Society” because this gave him the ground to talk about whatever else he wanted to talk about. I applied this same logic when naming my site because I am an architect, and the “Life” part would allow me to talk about whatever I wanted.

The AIA Toolkit for Architects in the Era of Climate Change

Mundo Verde at Cook Campus / Studio Twenty Seven Architecture Mundo Verde at Cook Campus / Studio Twenty Seven Architecture

A misconception often surfaces in design circles that architectural beauty and evidence-based environmental performance are mutually exclusive. To address this, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) is releasing a new tool that can assist architecture firms in designing high-performance energy-efficient buildings.

Despite the federal stance on paramount environmental issues, the AIA upholds and advocates for the responsibility of architects to mitigate against the effects of climate change. Aware that the construction industry consumes nearly 40% of the energy supply nationwide, the AIA COTE® Top Ten Toolkit presents a series of strategies to promote sustainability without compromising the design.

Richard Rogers Wins the 2019 AIA Gold Medal

Centre Georges Pompidou / Richard Rogers + Renzo Piano. Image © Flickr user dalbera licensed under CC BY 2.0 Centre Georges Pompidou / Richard Rogers + Renzo Piano. Image © Flickr user dalbera licensed under CC BY 2.0

Richard Rogers has been awarded the 2019 AIA Gold Medal by the American Institute of Architects. The world-renowned architect and founding principal of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has been recognized “for his influence on the built environment [that] has redefined an architect’s responsibilities to society.”

Honoring “an individual or pair of architects whose significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture,” the AIA Gold Medal is often considered the highest honor awarded in the United States for architecture.

Design Criticism Ignores the Places that it Could Help the Most

Growing economies- and the inspiration of Western style architectural wealth - has led to the development of areas such as these across the world. This example, in Ordos, Mongolia, was built for a prospective population that never quite came.. Image © Raphael Olivier Growing economies- and the inspiration of Western style architectural wealth - has led to the development of areas such as these across the world. This example, in Ordos, Mongolia, was built for a prospective population that never quite came.. Image © Raphael Olivier

This article was originally published on CommonEdge as "The Design Media Needs to Examine its Own Privilege."

What to Get an Architect for Christmas [2018]

This is the 9th annual and highly anticipated What to Get an Architect for Christmas gift guide. It’s hard for me to process that when I wrote the very first gift guide back in 2010 that this would become the most requested blog post that I would write every single year. In that first year, the guide was just my own personal gift wish list, but now I spend almost an entire year curating what sort of items should make the final cut. Apparently, some years I clearly want more stuff than others, and this year’s list at 28 total items falls somewhat short of last year’s intensive mega-book list (43 total items, 31 one of which were books.)

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

011: An Architect’s Salary

It was only a matter of time before I once again tackled the topic of an architect’s salary. This is actually the fourth post I’ve prepared on the subject, but I haven’t talked about it since January 2013 so maybe it was overdue. I have long been on record that I can’t stand when architects complain that they don’t make more money. Of course they want to make more money – who doesn’t? The question – for me – is what are you willing to do to get more money because people generally don’t like to give that stuff away. I also strongly believe that each person needs to determine for themselves where the balance exists between work and personal fulfillment.

… but that’s me and things have changed since I was an employee. I have now moved to the proverbial “other side of the table” and it has shaped how I view the process of determining how much money people should be paid. So let’s get into it and start a conversation on ‘An Architect’s Salary.’

AIA Announces 2018 Film Challenge Winners

Courtesy of American Institute of Architects Courtesy of American Institute of Architects

The American Institute of Architects have released the winning films for the 2018 Film Challenge. As part of the institute's larger Blueprint for Better campaign, the film challenge asked participants to produce, shoot, and edit 3 to 5 minute documentary-style short films. The AIA invited architects and filmmakers to collaborate in telling stories of architects, civic leaders and communities working together toward positive community impact.

This year’s film submissions covered a variety of topics, including affordable housing, social impact issues, preservation and sustainability. Grand prize, runner up and third place recipients were selected by a panel of judges made up of architects and film/media professionals while the People’s Choice Award was selected through votes cast by the public. Each of the Blueprint for Better stories were entered to win cash and experiential prizes, distribution at film festivals, and exposure on AIA’s online channels. The four winning films are:

Spotlight: Maya Lin

Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/derekskey/5249593792'>Flickr user derekskey</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a> Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/derekskey/5249593792'>Flickr user derekskey</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>

At the age of just 21 and while she was still finishing her undergraduate degree at Yale, Maya Lin (born October 5, 1959) won the design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. The memorial went on to become among the most recognizable designs in the world, and heralded a sea change for memorial design, breaking with classical conventions and dramatically changing the discourse of a typology.

This Week in Architecture: Complexity and Contradiction

© Denise Scott Brown © Denise Scott Brown

Robert Venturi - and the postmodernist movement he helped to form - was occasionally a divisive figure. For hardcore modernists, the referencing of prior styles was an affront to the future-facing architecture they had tried to promote. For traditionalists, the ebullient and kitschy take on classicism was an insult to the elegance of the past.

But on closer examination, post-modernism is not about contradiction, but of mixing. It combines the best of both modernism and classicism: it is pragmatic and functional, exhuberant and thoughtful about the past. Venturi was keenly aware of the active role architecture plays in our lives, but rather than intellectualizing it in abstraction encouraged us all to think in more honest terms. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Minimalism is not necessarily a marker of quality; less can indeed be a bore.

This week, we cherish a figure who shone nothing but light on architecture, who saw buildings as the remit of not just architects but of us all.

Saying Goodbye