Celebrating its 150th year, the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Chicago) honored outstanding architectural projects at Designight 2019, the organization’s Design Excellence Awards ceremony and celebration at Navy Pier. The 64th annual event, attended by more than 1,000 architecture, engineering and construction industry leaders, was hosted by Chicago television personality, producer and WTTW host, Geoffrey Baer.
“Even as we celebrate an exceptional 150 years in Chicago, we continue to be amazed by the talent of the architects in this city who remain dedicated to improving communities, furthering technological and sustainability practices and redefining what we know to be possible, all while maintaining the integrity of our city’s rich architectural history,” said AIA Chicago executive vice president, Zurich Esposito, Hon. AIA.
Twelve nationally renowned architects comprised the juries, who evaluated hundreds of entries before selecting the winning projects. Each winning project received a specific distinction with its 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, while the Special Recognition category is bestowed by juror nomination, in which a project is recognized for a specific strength or accomplishment.
This year, 32 awards were presented to projects in four categories: distinguished building, divine detail, interior architecture and urban design. The jury noted a theme running through many of this year’s honorees: investment in activating community spaces from both commercial and civic projects. Many of the winners designed beautiful and meaningful moments for public enjoyment, integrating the building with the streetscape and connecting it to local residents.
Among these community-centric designs are CLUAA’s Winterwaterway: Adaptive Reuse of the Erie Canal (Citation of Merit, Urban Design); Farr Associates / Woodhouse Tinucci Architects’ Keller Center – Harris School of Public Policy (Honor, Distinguished Building and Honor, Interior Architecture); Goettsch Partners’ 150 N. Riverside (Honor, Distinguished Building) and South Lakefront Framework Plan by SmithGroup (Honor, Urban Design).
Other awards recognized Chicago-area projects ranging from libraries and restaurants to outdoor oases and newly renovated corporate headquarters. Among these was Ross Barney Architects’ McDonald’s Chicago Flagship in Chicago, which was awarded Citation of Merit, Distinguished Building Award. McDonald’s Chicago flagship radically deviates from a typical prototype restaurant, with the design encouraging gathering to eat as a design feature beneath a large solar pergola, indoor dining areas within a pure glass box connect to outdoor shared plazas and park spaces.
John Ronan Architects’ Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship in Chicago received Honor, Distinguished Building and Divine Detail Awards. The forward-thinking design of the Innovation Center was created to foster collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship among students and staff alike. The hybrid campus space is organized around open-air courtyards to enhance meetings and information exchange across various departments. The innovative ETFE façade completes the space’s design with a cloud-like second-story that regulates heat and cooling by expanding and contracting.
CannonDesign’s Brunswick Headquarters in Mettawa, Illinois was awarded Citation of Merit, Interior Architecture Award. Brunswick leadership sought to use its headquarters relocation as an opportunity to once again establish the brand as a visionary. Details throughout the new headquarters refer to Brunswick’s history and products—the curved wall, reminiscent of a boat hull, and the use of materials found in their products such as wood, steel, felt and slate.
Perkins + Will’s Gardner Neuroscience Institute in Chicago was awarded Citation of Merit, Distinguished Building Award. The Gardner Neuroscience Institute brings together 125 faculty from 15 Centers of Excellence into a new home for neurological care, education and research. As a patient-centered facility, each component of the design was developed with patient, family and caregiver input. The design accommodates the needs of patients with susceptibility to nausea, dizziness, fatigue or movement disorders.
Harboe Architects’ Marquette Building ADA Accessible Entrance in Chicago was awarded Honor, Divine Detail Award. The original Marquette Building entrance consisted of four pairs of highly ornamented bronze doors. Although two pairs of doors were swapped out for revolving doors in the 1920s, two pairs of the original ornamented bronze-clad doors were still in use until about 2006 when they were replaced with plain bronze doors due to damage. The client requested a solution that would allow unassisted direct access in a wheelchair and restore the entrances. The solution was to cast new bronze doors that incorporated the middle mullion as part of one of the door leaves, thus allowing 35 inches of clear space.
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to John Syvertsen, FAIA, whose career has been distinguished by community outreach, social impact and sustainability. While serving as president of OWP/P Architects, Syvertsen led the merger with CannonDesign where he co-founded Open Hand Studio, a studio dedicated to public interest design. Since 2015, Syversten has dedicated his career to supporting nonproﬁt organizations.