Since 1982, The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) has celebrated outstanding architecture through the AIACC Design Awards program. Once again, The AIACC proudly recognizes excellence in architecture and design, announcing the recipients of this year’s Design Awards competition and celebrates the value of design.

This year, nearly 300 submittals were reviewed by the esteemed Design Awards jury, which comprised Edmund Ong, FAIA, of Edmund W. Ong Architecture & Planning; John Ronan, AIA, of John Ronan Architects; Julie Snow, FAIA, of Julie Snow Architects; David Thurm, Hon. AIA, of the Art Institute of Chicago; and Clive Wilkinson, AIA, of Clive Wilkinson Architects.

Two Honor Awards for Architecture were given:

One Honor Award for Interior Architecture was given:

One Honor Award for Small Projects was given:

Nine Merit Awards for Architecture were given:

One Merit Award for Interior Architecture was given:

One Merit Award for Small Projects was given:

The AIACC congratulates all the Design Award winners on their impressive accomplishments.

2012 Honor Awards for Architecture

Flynn Mews (Dublin, Ireland)

Architect/Firm: Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects

Description: Situated in the heart of Dublin, Ireland on the site of an existing 1847 Georgian Manor, the firm was asked to design a single family mews that incorporates a historically significant coach house façade. The local planning council requested that the existing façade be restored with only limited alterations and that views from the primary manor be maintained. The council’s parameters were used as the driving force behind the design.

Jury comments: “This home is a fabulous, intriguing example of the integration of new and old elements. Well-proportioned and naturally lit, it uses changing materials and color to draw the visitor into the house.”

Golden Gate Valley Branch Library (San Francisco, CA)

Architect/Firm: Tom Eliot Fisch / Paulett Taggart Architects, JV

Description: This project includes the preservation and renovation of an historic, San Francisco Branch Public Library designed by Ernest Coxhead as well as the construction of a small addition. The $4.2 million project was completed in October 2011 and provides accessibility, seismic, and life safety upgrades; improvements to the mechanical and electrical systems; façade restoration; and a complete interior renovation.

Jury comments: “This is a smart project that has been executed beautifully. It achieves its purpose of seismic upgrading while also creating a wonderful mix of old and modern elements. The enlarged tree grates and the book return are particularly well-designed details.”

2012 Honor Award for Interior Architecture

HyundaiCard Airport Lounge (Incheon International Airport, South Korea)

Architect/Firm: Gensler

Description: This is an exclusive environment that offers unique travel assistance for VIP members. As a counterpoint to the surrounding visual noise and frenzied airport activity, planning for the space was defined by the unexpected convergence of lounge, retail and museum programs. The proposed part is deceptively simple, with functions arranged in a freestanding “black box.”

Jury comments: “The design of this project is considerate on many levels, and it successfully attempts something quite experimental, reinventing the high-end travel club. It correlates the virtual world with the physical in a sophisticated way, incorporating tactical personalization reminiscent of the iPad.”

2012 Honor Award for Small Projects

Oakland Museum of California Event Space (Oakland, CA)

Architect/Firm: Jensen Architects

Description: A wall painting with chairs—this project was developed as an adaptable tool kit serving new public programming and special events at the local museum. Sited in the museum’s terraced-concrete entry plaza, the project creates an outdoor living room for the community with simple metal garden chairs hung from hooks like chairs in a Shaker house.

Jury comments: “This is a wonderful social space that achieves a great deal with minimal resources. It uses essential furniture in a completely creative way, the chair pattern changing each time the chairs are hung. The use of chalkboard paint contributes a great interactive quality as well.”

2012 Merit Awards for Architecture

Marin Country Day School (Marin, CA)

Architect/Firm: EHDD

Description: This award-winning K-8 school is an independent, coed school with 540 students. It has the distinction of being the first zero net energy school building in North America. The school is nestled into nature on an idyllic campus located north of San Francisco.

Jury comments: “The school is well sited and integrated with its context. The use of materials shows real control and clarity, with steel used consistently in the structure and wood used consistently wherever the human body comes into contact. Lighting is used beautifully, and the connection of indoor and outdoor spaces is particularly noteworthy. The school creates a space for young children without pandering to them or becoming too childish.”

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts (Richmond, CA)

Architect/Firm: Mark Cavagnero Associates

Description: This community performing arts center is a nationally-recognized training and production center, dedicated to the underserved youth of the community which it serves. Located in a neighborhood known as the “Iron Triangle,” distinguished primarily for its chronic poverty and violence, the Center is a significant resource for the community and at the heart of a revitalization effort downtown. Reusing a historically-significant building, a former 1920s dance hall, the facility has been transformed into a new urban center for music and dance.

Jury comments: “The design of this project is clean and direct, its spaces arranged in a way that respects, maintains and preserves the building envelope. The exterior does an excellent job of expressing what is inside, communicating a feeling of accessibility to the city, particularly in the way that it allows dance to take place on the street level.”

San Joaquin Valley Residence (San Joaquin, CA)

Architect/Firm: Aidlin Darling Design

Description: The design of this private residence presented many challenges, not the least of which involved creating a comfortable place to live amongst the vast agriculture of the Central Valley. It needed to provide protection from intense summer heat while affording easy access to outdoor living. Inspired by the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico, simple forms cast in strong daylight and shadow capture a spirit of place. Heavy opaque walls and overhanging rooflines provide much needed protection from direct sun while giving acoustic and visual privacy from surrounding working orchards.

Jury comments: “This house is a calm, serene space, remarkably detailed. The wood columns contribute beautifully to its elegant feel.”

Community Foundation Santa Cruz County (Aptos, CA)

Architect/Firm: Mark Cavagnero Associates

Description: This Local Community Foundation has helped local donors invest wisely in their community since 1982. The Foundation desired a permanent home in order to control their administrative costs and securely anchor the non-profit as a community resource. With generosity from local donors and philanthropists, the Foundation has developed a new home in the Central Coast area of California. The new 10,000 square-foot office building is located on a 30,000 square-foot site in a predominantly commercial district in the center of town. The new building can house their 10 current employees with room to grow to their projected 24 employees and volunteers.

Jury comments: “The massing on this project is very strong, and it has a great materiality, using inexpensive materials to excellent effect. Also remarkable is how well-suited it seems to its location and street.”

The Q (San Diego, CA)

Architect/Firm: Jonathan Segal FAIA Architect

Description: The Q is a seven-story mixed-use residential, office, and commercial development in the Little Italy district of downtown San Diego. The building integrates all of these uses within a small 50×200 foot infill lot while also saving the oldest home in Little Italy.

Jury comments: “This is a very intriguing project with strong massing. It is an excellent example of maximizing a space in an innovative way.”

Tahiti Affordable Housing (Santa Monica, CA)

Architect/Firm: Daly Genik

Description: High density, low-rise workforce housing in Los Angeles is pulled by two dissimilar models. The first is the ubiquitous type of Southern California low-cost rental housing, the dingbat apartment, which is characterized by surface parking facing the street, exterior circulation and a single, thematic ornament.

Jury comments: “This building successfully creates both social and private spaces. It has an energetic, animated feel and makes great use of modest materials. The façade and walkways add texture, and the railing is another particularly beautiful detail.”

Surfhouse (Hermosa Beach, CA)

Architect/Firm: XTEN Architecture

Description: This residence appears as an abstract block of ebonized cedar a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Hermosa Beach. The site is very small. While typical lots in the area measure 120’ x 40’, the allowable building area for the residence measures just 33’ x 24’. The project budget was equally restrictive, with the project being constructed for approximately $310 per square foot.

Jury comments: “This project gets a great deal out of its small footprint. It makes beautiful use of windows, and its circulation plan is creative, bringing indoor and outdoor spaces together and cleverly placing the living room on the top floor to take advantage of an ocean view.”

Gagosian Gallery Addition (Beverly Hills, CA)

Architect/Firm: Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Description: This adaptive reuse of retail space is situated in the commercial center of Beverly Hills and expands on the existing gallery’s exhibition space and offices designed by Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP in 1995. New second level offices and a private skylit viewing gallery comprising 7,400 square feet address the growing gallery’s administrative and exhibit needs.

Jury comments: “This project skillfully converts an existing shell into a beautiful space. Although it is two buildings, it elegantly reads as one piece. The boat truss is an especially thoughtful detail.”

Charles David Keeling Apartments, UC San Diego (San Diego, CA)

Architect/Firm: KieranTimberlake

Description: This student residence overlooking the coastal cliffs of La Jolla houses 510 students. Named for the scientist whose research first alerted the world to the possibility of the human impact on global atmospheric carbon, it employs a suite of tactics to address Southern California’s pressing environmental challenges of storm water management, water scarcity, and carbon emissions. The apartments are instrumental in the revitalization of the college by bringing students closer to their core academic buildings.

Jury comments: “This project reflects careful attention to context. Among its most intriguing elements are the green roof, courtyard and façades; the exterior corridors also do a wonderful job of incorporating social spaces.”

2012 Merit Award for Interior Architecture

Bar Agricole (San Francisco, CA)

Architect/Firm: Aidlin Darling Design

Description: Located on a gritty street in San Francisco’s industrial South of Market district, this modern urban tavern is a hybrid of cocktail bar and restaurant where the drink menu is just as intriguing and meticulously conceived as the food. Inspired by the farmhouse rums of the French Caribbean, the establishment is both down‐to-¬earth and sophisticated in its approach to food, drink, and the dining experience.

Jury comments: “It is difficult to create a new space that feels comfortable when those who use the space are already familiar with its old design. This project merges old and new successfully, bringing in beautiful lighting with an airy quality. There is a lot of design packed into each square inch.”

2012 Merit Award for Small Projects

Coffee Bar Montgomery (San Francisco, CA)

Architect/Firm: jones | haydu

Description: This client serves as a retail outlet for a Bay Area institution and a leader in fine coffee on the West Coast. Their mission is to provide a workshop to explore, experiment, and embrace the trends of the coffee industry. Used for storage previously, the existing space in the heart of the Financial District was small (under 500 square feet) with no distinctive architectural features, save tall ceilings and a full height glass storefront. The number of materials was kept to a minimum so as not to overwhelm the small space. The staggered, high-efficiency light fixtures create a glowing wood shell—read through the building’s colonnade—that serves as a beacon to pedestrians.

Jury comments: “This intimate space is an outstanding example of using very few materials and doing it very well. The way the concrete reaches up to touch the wood is elegant and clean. The integration of the lighting simplifies the experience to make the ordering of coffee the focal point.”

Skip to content