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      AIA selects the 2012 Recipients of the Small Project Awards

      Contact: Matt Tinder

      For immediate release:
      Washington, D.C. – July 26, 2012 –
      The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected the eleven recipients of the 2012 Small Project Awards. The AIA Small Project Awards Program, now in its ninth year, was established to recognize small-project practitioners for the high quality of their work and to promote excellence in small-project design. This award program emphasizes the excellence of small-project design and strives to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects bring to projects, no matter the limits of size and scope.

      The jury for the Small Project Awards includes: James Cline, AIA (jury chair), Cline Architects; Anne Fougeron, FAIA, Fougeron Architecture; Chad Oppenheim, AIA, Oppenheim Architecture + Design; James Slade, AIA, Slade Architecture; and Karen Van Lengen, FAIA, Karen Van Lengen Architect.

      Award recipients are categorized into three groups; category 1) a small project construction, object, work of environmental art or architectural design element up to $150,000 2) a small project construction, up to $1,500,000 and 3) a small project construction up to $1,500,000 which does not rely on external infrastructure as its primary power source.

      If you are interested in images of these projects or more information, please contact Matt Tinder at

      Category 1

      SPECS Optical Façade; Minneapolis
      Alchemy Architects

      To bring visibility to an optical shop hindered by sign codes and obscured by landscape beautification on one of Minneapolis' busiest streets, Alchemy evaluated code options and technology to create architecture inseparable from the idea of sign. On a limited design+build budget, a new skin of self-supporting greenhouse polycarbonate frames grow out of the historic facade. Low and high tech tools included a laser cut scale install model, CNC cut polycarbonate, waterjet-cut aluminum, and die-cut polyurethane straps which helped to celebrate craft befitting both the building and the creative store that inhabits it.

      The Mobile Dwelling Cube; Oakland, CA

      This compact mobile dwelling cube allows the client to balance his personal and professional life in one space. The mobile unit enables the client to freely reconfigure the loft to suit his Feng Shui classes while securing his personal realm. To meet the owner’s requests for transferring the cube to future locations and minimizing on-site fabrication, a steel frame and plywood components were prefabricated to fit through a standard 3-foot door. FSC Ash plywood panels were hand-selected for unique grain patterns that resemble Chinese ink landscapes. Soy-glued plywood finished with natural Shellac, enables the owner to inhabit the cube without off-gassing concerns.

      Category 2

      OS House; Racine, WI
      Johnsen Schmaling Architects

      Occupying a narrow infill lot in an old city neighborhood at the edge of Lake Michigan, this LEED Platinum home for a young family demonstrates how a small residence built with a moderate budget can become a confident, new urban constituent. The compact building volume is wrapped with an innovative concrete rain screen facade system that transforms into a delicate scrim of metal rods defining the perimeter of upper level outdoor rooms. Floor-to ceiling apertures penetrate the rain screen, their bright colors an unapologetic nod to the cheerful polychrome of the neighborhood’s Victorian homes.

      Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church; Springdale, AR
      Marlon Blackwell Architect

      This project is the result of a transformation of an existing metal shop building into a sanctuary and fellowship hall on a 3-acre site in Springdale, Arkansas. The simple original structure is enveloped by a new skin, using classical proportions to provide a new transformative figure over the original gabled form. Although a small structure, its bold form makes it visible and recognizable from the interstate which passes nearby. The interior expresses the origins of the Orthodox Christian faith and traditions with a spatial reformation in the narthex, campanile, and sanctuary.

      The Ghost Houses; Knoxville, TN

      This project was not supposed to be possible - five units of housing and a studio in three structures on a one-quarter acre infill lot with an historic zoning overlay. Yet, by using the history of the site as a wedge the architects were able to overcome rigid regulations to create a progressive project consistent with their interest in dense, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods and architecture that is simultaneously responsive to both its location and global environmental concerns.

      Becherer House; Charlottesville, VA
      Robert M. Gurney, FAIA

      The house is conceived of three gable-roofed pavilions that provide a threshold between the woodlands and the pastures, taking advantage of two very different scenic panoramas. The one room deep, central living pavilion contains large expanses of glass along two walls, affording views of both the woods and rolling horse pastures. This configuration insures the space will be flooded with light at all times of the day throughout the year. A screened porch and bluestone terrace, running the length of the house provides a stage to view sunsets over the pastures while a manicured lawn and dry-stacked slate wall provide an ordered transition from the house to the woods beyond.

      L Residence; Omaha, NE
      Min | Day

      This filmmaker’s apartment reinterprets the use of poché to support Baroque theatricality and proposes a cinematic architecture of sequence and frame. The use of “virtual poché” in the Baroque to hide service spaces is updated through an emphasis on thinness and surface instead of solidity and mass. The apartment occupies the top floor of a converted Art Deco hotel. We conceived the living space as a pseudo-exterior, pushing private and utilitarian spaces behind a wall of cnc-cut Oak veneer. A private roof deck above is accessed from stairs in the compressed space of the poché.

      Stacked Cabin; Muscoda, WI
      Johnsen Schmaling Architects

      This modest cabin has a compact volume built into a densely wooded slope at the edge of a clearing. Minimizing the building’s footprint and taking advantage of the sloped site, the horizontally organized components of a traditional cabin compound – typically an open-plan longhouse with communal living space, an outhouse, and a freestanding tool shed – were reconfigured and stacked vertically. The bottom level serves as the infrastructural base for the living quarters above. Stairs lead up to the open living hall centered around a stove and bracketed by a galley kitchen and small sleeping rooms.

      Yao_Residence; Chicago
      Perimeter Architects

      This existing wood frame single family residence is thirty feet from a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train platform, making a focus on sound, view, and natural light paramount. The new standing seam metal panel west wall is filled with an open-cell spray foam insulation, dramatically buffering sound from the train. Window fenestration has been reduced to a single 6’x6’ deep set window. Skylights in the existing roof profile provide natural light and ventilation. A ‘slice’ in the existing roof gives lateral stability to a structurally weak existing wood frame and hides mechanical rooftop equipment from sight. A fully integrated scupper system was designed on the west roof pitch to produce a seamless wall to roof reading of the metal panel siding.

      Category 3

      Shade Platform; Phoenix

      The design of the Maricopa County Security Center Building Shade Platform employs a creative combination of modular and prefabricated steel framed building systems. Steel planks span an elevated frame to define the platform, and shading devices were created using standard aluminum tubes of varied colors. Arranged vertically and horizontally around the platform’s south and west edges, the combination of hues brings depth to the enclosing surfaces. Glass rails complete the north and east perimeters, offering views of downtown Phoenix. The design creates a contemporary counterpoint to the building’s Renaissance Revivalist style.

      Cape Russell Retreat; Sharps Chapel, TN
      Sanders Pace Architecture

      This off-the-grid lakeside pavilion located in rural East Tennessee begins with a lightweight steel frame shop fitted with tabs to allow for the attachment of framing members. A secondary skin of 2x4 vertical cedar boards backed with insect screen allows for cross ventilation, its staggered blocking pattern camouflaging the structure within its densely wooded setting. A butterfly roof directs and delivers rainwater to a collection cistern located beside the structure with internal filters and UV lighting which treat the water for potable use. A rooftop mounted photovoltaic cell provides the necessary power to run the water pump, refrigeration, fans and lighting and allows the structure to operate independently.

      About The American Institute of Architects

      For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit


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