To win an AIA Houston 2011 Architecture Design Award, you either have to work in Houston or build here, so a glimpse at the annual awards is a reliable means of taking the temperature of the local architecture scene. We got a look at the freshly published list of winners, and we're happy to report the following: The state of the Houston architectural talent is strong.
Highlights include single-family structures from two entities connected with the UH School of Architecture: young local firm Logan and Johnson, whose "Barndominium" is by our lights the most striking structure honored this year, and Ronnie Self Architect, whose St. Emanuel House we've mentioned before, and which has received attention in other corners of the media as well. (Another building ArtAttack has recently featured was honored as well--perhaps the AIA has been reading this space?)
More predictable honors went to big local corporate firms Gensler and Kirksey, who won for their strong design for the downtown Tellepsen YMCA. There were also awards for the perennial Houston favorites, which are consistently recognized (and rightly so) for strong local work, including Collaborative Designworks, Glassman Shoemake Maldnoado, and Natalye Appel + Associates Architects. In a category all her own, Houston-based high-design darling Lauren Rotttet took home two awards for Interior Architecture, our strong favorite being the Mattel Design Center in El Segundo, California.
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And as if to demonstrate that Houston can produce conceptual hits with the best of them, the AIA also honored Logan and Johnson with their proposal for a "prism cloud," a finalist in the Land Art Generator competition in the United Arab Emirates. It's an energy-generating canopy which "hovers over the desert, alternately casting shadows and spectral light on its surface." According to Logan and Johnson, the prism cloud "attempts to render the invisible visible, calling attention to atmospheric elements that might otherwise go unnoticed." The structure is a steel-cable web, anchored to concrete piers, and designed to interact with desert climactic conditions. We're glad they're doing such interesting work on the international scene, but perhaps for a more Houston-centric application, perhaps Logan and Johnson could dream up a prism cloud that interacts with pollution?