We know these past several years have been among the most difficult for architects who specialize in residential work. Sometimes it feels as if no one is building anything at all. But the 824 entries we received in 14 categories for the 12th annual residential architect Design Awards are evidence to the contrary. Buildings are going up, and handsome ones at that. Indeed, the quality of work is undiminished despite the additional challenges each project faces in these tough times.
What is diminished is the number of fresh faces we see among our list of winning firms this year. With just a few exceptions, the 2011 A-Team is made up of seasoned veterans—firms with 15 years or more experience. This underscores the truth about what we’ve been hearing on the street: The architects who’ve persevered in the housing bust are those with a thick portfolio of accomplishments and years of happy clients able to rehire them or recommend them to friends and associates.
Certainly younger firms entered the competition, but chances are the jobs they snagged were slimmer pickin’s than in years past. If Tom Kundig or Peter Bohlin have room in their schedules to design your house, wouldn’t you hire one of them?
And people did. Of our 40 winning projects, four were designed by Kundig or Bohlin. Kundig also nabbed our highest honor; his Art Stable in Seattle was named Project of the Year. Additionally, our jury members bestowed 10 Grand awards and 29 Merit awards. And they felt one project warranted the addition of an adaptive reuse category, bringing our category total to 15. Our distinguished jury included (pictured from left to right): John Vinci, FAIA, Vinci | Hamp Architects; John Carney, FAIA, Carney Logan Burke Architects; Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Marlon Blackwell Architect; Allan Shulman, FAIA, Shulman + Associates; Steven Ehrlich, FAIA, Ehrlich Architects; and Audrey Matlock, AIA, Audrey Matlock Architect.
We congratulate this year’s all-star winners, but we also hope to see more fresh faces return with renewed vigor and exciting projects next year. That will mean all fortunes are rising again in residential architecture.