Celebrating the accomplishments of Connecticut architects and architectural projects

 

 

Each year the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA/CT) confers awards on the most deserving projects by Connecticut-based architects completed during the calendar year.

 

Not all of the built projects are in the Nutmeg State, and not all of those that are in state were designed by Connecticut architects. The awards program encompasses both commercial and residential projects. Awards were also given in the categories of “Preservation” and “Architecture: The Encompassing Art.”

 

Some projects employ a very traditional architectural vocabulary, while others (see Pickard Chilton’s otherworldly — though unbuilt — Iskandar Investment Headquarters in Nusajaya, Malaysia) look unlike any structures most of us have ever seen (or, perhaps, ever will).

 

Jurors for the 2011 awards program were: Simon Jacobsen, Associate AIA, managing design partner of Jacobsen Architecture; Gail Woodhouse of Imai Keller Moore Architects, Boston; and Emmanuel Petit, associate professor at the Yale School of Architecture.

 

 

Built Projects

 

ConocoPhillips West Campus, Houston Tex.

Architect: Pickard Chilton, New Haven

Jury comment: The building is in the tradition of the neo-avant guard. It is an articulated version of Corbusier. The articulation of the volumes that compose the building is convincing. Its relationship to light and to the outside opens up the building; it uses formal repetition where appropriate and a variety of forms. A pristine, clean set of shapes, sunlight, and shadows are at play. There is a sense of layering between glass and the other materials. The building is large but has a sense of openness, and its actual open space is refreshing. A lot of thought went into the building. There is clarity in the distribution of program.

 

Wintonbury Early Childhood Magnet School, Bloomfield

Architect: Tai Soo Kim Partners Architects, Hartford

Jury comment: The organizing concept is the very strong use of form that provides protective space inside and in the individual classroom. The detailing is suitably simple, as the forms are complex, a relationship appropriate in the building. The parterre is very clear and not boring: the fragmented forms provide clarity and diversity. There is strength in the repetition of the building forms. Multiplied, they take on a whole new value. The plan has an embracing feel to it, reminding one of a covered wagon. The playful shapes of the windows are refreshing, appropriate to out of the box education.

 

Hillside Research Campus, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.

Architect: Centerbrook Architects and Planners, Centerbrook

Jury comment: The strength of this scheme is that it is seemingly loose. The scheme is of volumes that produce good public space and a diverse skyline. There is strength in the concept of forms — forms extracted from Federal architecture; the breaking of the scale of the program is appealing. The arrangement of buildings coming down the hill just as a town would is clever; they are of the hill, not on the hill. The color works well; immense expertise was used in this project.

 

Tokyo American Club, Tokyo

Architect: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, New Haven

Jury comment: The project is an assemblage of multiple and complex pieces that are related by the horizontal ceiling. The Wrightian entrance provides for a welcoming arrival as does the atrium of the building, which is richly programmed. There is a clear love of the scoring of different details in the interior. There is something wonderful in the working of material. There are strong Wright references, yet the outside is simple. The way light enters the building is lovely. The open plan, exterior to interior, works nicely. There is a clear definition of space and use, lots of unique surprises. The building changes gears within itself, yet still maintains order. By a less skilled architect this would not succeed.

 

Single-Family Residential Projects

 

House in Ridgefield, Ridgefield

Architect: Beinfield Architecture, PC, Norwalk

Jury comment: This project is based on simple space and volumetric strategies. It provides a simple but effective stage for collections, a stage setting for the content of the building. The traditional heavy post and beam construction makes sense of the chaos of the collection. The New England barn is ideal for a collection such as this, providing form, but observers can see that something else is going on here. There are two important elements on the outside, the first is the translucent glass link, a very effective rhythm maker and the second is the “sideness” of the scheme, wherein the front is relatively impenetrable, but there is open glazing on the backside, making for a very different experience. The architect was certainly skillful in persuading a Broadway actor to live in a barn.

 

Country Estate, New Canaan

Architect: Roger Ferris + Partners, Westport

Jury comment: There is a very sensitive relationship between the Philip Johnson building and the new addition. The addition is a totally different building; its materiality does not repeat that of the old but makes reference to it. How the building meets the ground is the mark of a confident architect. The project is wonderfully conceptualized: minimalist, but thought through to the smallest detail. It reinterprets Johnson’s idea of proceeding from building to building in an estate; the proximity of the three buildings illustrates the perfect match of the architect’s understanding of Johnson’s house and landscape. This is a success story of what an architect didn’t do. The new work is entirely complementary.  

 

Westchester Waterfront, Rye, N.Y.

Architect: Amanda Martocchio Architecture + Design, LLC, New Canaan

Jury comment: The jury liked the mastery of exterior details; in every corner, the building is pristine. The subtle use of two textures, the small scale details, and massing of the building are very strong. The central glazed wall between the two wings of the building is very successful. The jury liked the simplicity of the house best of all, its simple forms that relate well to each other. Its volumes and play with asymmetry work well, as does the eccentric roof on the tall pavilion that successfully shades the bedroom. It is a tidy, well thought-out project.

 

Water House, Connecticut coastline

Architect: Newick Architects, New Haven

Jury comment: Transformational, this is one of those rare projects that can set a precedent on how to deal with coastal houses built in the 1940s and ‘50s. Painting the building white opened up so many possibilities. This was a thinking person’s project; the jury wished that it had a bigger award to give to the architect. It most successful aspect is the modesty of the new building, in keeping with the modesty of the older building. This approach is taken both in the front and back of the house. The interiors are rigorous, pristine, and a quiet follow-through to the exterior.  

 

Edge House, Warren

Architect: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Jury comment: The jury liked the project scheme and the fact that the initial concept made its way through to execution. The strength of the curved wall and its rectangular punctuation marks made for an evocative scheme, with the long curved wall as unifying element. The crescent form of the building and its cantilevered ends were absolutely site specific. The sense of movement inside and out was very strong. The programmatic dialogue formed a complex dialectic, in which individual spaces take on their characteristic. The building was done with inexpensive materials, but was consistently well done.

 

New Canaan Town House, New Canaan

Architect: Joeb Moore + Partners Architects, Greenwich

 

Jury comment: This project has exquisite detail; the architect knows how to use materials. Volumetrically it is a hybrid, using hybridity to produce views from the inside of the house, back to the outside, establishing a relationship between inside and out and making the inside interesting. On this very narrow, small lot, the architect found a way to form protection on the sides of the house. On the inside, there is a certain crispness to detailing. The house almost has a human quality to it—with the outside “aggressive” and the inside open and generous. The interior is skillfully detailed: the joining of materials is done well.

 

Preservation

 

Neutra Glen Residence, Stamford

Architect: Joeb Moore + Partners Architects, Greenwich

Jury comment: This project is not a restoration but a renovation that enters into a dialogue with the Neutra house. It respects Neutra’s detailing but inserts minimalist detailing where appropriate, in the kitchen and bath. It is lovely to see work performed by an architect who revered details as Neutra did. For a landmark project like this, the owner and architect have to have a common vision; the new work done exemplified that relationship and takes Neutra into the 21st century.  

 

Unbuilt

 

Urban Greenhouse, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Architect: Newman Architects, New Haven

Jury comment: The jury liked its ephemeral nature. It provided the strength of its concept for its location on an urban waterfront. The project demonstrates how a building can be stripped away, separating land from water. The jury applauded the building for its gesture and spirit.  

 

Iskandar Investment Headquarters, Nusajaya, Malaysia

Architect: Pickard Chilton, New Haven

Jury comment: The project has the schematic rigor and forceful image that an unbuilt project can still have. The roof terrace and screen give formal definition to the building. Its success is based on how it needed to float above ground, so that you would be able to see under and thru it. These are elements that enhance the layering effect. From the point of view of constructability, other than the skin, this is pretty simple with a very contemporary look. The project is not overly articulated, all is within a wrapper.

 

Architecture: The Encompassing Art

 

Lever 1, Warren

Architect: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Jury comment: The lever handle, now under patented manufacture, is sleek and appropriate. Its future use will enhance other projects. It also exemplifies the success of marrying design and technology.  

 

Bronze Pool Fence

Architect: Laura Kaehler Architects LLC, Greenwich

 

Jury comment: The minimal elegance of the fence works with its heavy counterpart, the house, and the softness of the landscape. There is something whimsical about the use of bronze for the fence material. The reference to dune fencing is playful and gives a sense of movement, despite the solidity of the material.  

 

Desk, New Haven

Architect: Newick Architects, New Haven

 

Jury comment: The jury was struck by the elegance of the design, the ability of the desk to function well, and its constructability. This is an unforgiving material that is well joined to itself. It reveals the whole tectonic reality of a piece of furniture.