One of our favorite annual architecture awards is the AIA Chicago Small Project Awards. It's an opportunity for small firms to recieve recognition for work that might otherwise be shadowed by larger offices. The AIA awards innovation, low budgets and small firms — this year there were 15 winners, ranging from a table on two wheels to a studio renovation in the Hancock building.
Each year the AIA Chicago tweaks its Small Projects Awards submission requirements. This year the only limitation was that the work be designed by firms with fewer than nine licensed architects and interns. Here's a sampling of the winners:
- Articulated Pods, by Blender Architecture LLC: "The project consisted of the gut-renovation of a 3,600 square foot residence located on the top floor and penthouse of an existing 5-unit building. A series of independent ‘pods’ were created for each function of the space, which are pulled away from the outside walls and remain autonomous as objects. Separation between components is limited and continuity is encouraged, while each program retains legibility. The pods are detailed with an illuminated reveal along the ceiling plane, emphasizing the notion of the box within the box."
- Historic Wicker Park 2-Flat Conversion and Modern Addition, by dSPACE Studio: "The owners of this 1880's Italianate home wanted to add a contemporary living space to their historic home. The design direction was to create a modern interpretation of the English orangery, a glass structure used as a conservatory, which references the owner’s time spent in England. The resulting addition is a two-story steel and glass volume attached to the rear of the home with an operable 17ft glass hangar door. This bi-folding door completely integrates the interior to the landscaped yard beyond, and when open, provides protection from rainfall."
- Unit 4906, by SIDE Architecture: "This remodel of a studio apartment in the John Hancock Center shows how much one can do with only 450 square feet and $45,000. Taking inspiration from the dramatic views of the city's skyline and Lake Michigan that the unit's north-facing aperture offers, the remodel attempts to mirrow, in the words of the architect, the city's 'sculptural interweaving of forma and space' in the interior."
- Guest House, by SMNG-A Architects Ltd.: "The chamfered corner of this Michigan guest house was inspired by an Anselm Kiefer painting, and jurors feel it was executed here with artistry. 'It celebrates the corner that is missing,' one said. Although it was accomplished by turning the structure 90 degrees on its foundation, 'it's not just a structural movement, ' that juror said. ' The stairs are there, and they're beautiful.' The removed corners also provide an unusual aperture fo rlight to enter the interior."
- Equilibrium, by The Archi/Build Group, Inc. "The table, 24 inches high, gets its balance from principles of the Taolu form of Tai Chi; it leverages the force of gravity through its center, coupling that with a rolling 'free' connection to the earth in order to remain erect."
MORE SMALL PROJECTS AWARDS ON APARTMENT THERAPY: