The 2015 Design Awards jurors met in Austin on May 7–8 to review all the entries. In their final selections, the jurors unanimously felt they had pushed one another to find architectural distinction in an array of project types that no single one of them would have arrived at on their own. Brief descriptions of the jury's response to selected projects are summarized below. The winning projects will be featured in the September/October 2015 issue of Texas Architect; the firms/designers will also be honored during TxA's 76th Annual Convention and Design Expo in Dallas this November.
Cedar Creek Reservoir
This predominately horizontal structure has an amazing presence, appearing almost as a part of the landscape while deploying strong forms and materials. The heaviness of its roof frame seems to levitate, creating a counterintuitive but powerful effect. The broad array of materials, including an unusual use of stone and concrete together, serves to contextualize the structure, weaving it into its forest setting and creating the impression that the home was designed almost as a landscape element.
Chinmaya Mission Austin
Miró Rivera Architects
The Chinmaya Mission Austin puts simple architectural forms to exceptionally strong use, drawing from traditional typologies in new — and “almost shockingly powerful” — ways. The structures evoke the traditions of Hindu culture while displaying a strong relationship to the Texas vernacular, using familiar materials in unfamiliar ways.
Decatur Street House
The Decatur Street House is an adaptive reuse that nicely balances the modern and the traditional. Through a complete reorganization of the public and private programs, the focus of the shotgun structure is shifted from internal to external, transforming the building's relationship to its side yard. The interior spaces are clearly modern, but the materials and craftsmanship ensure that this modernity harmonizes with the home’s largely unchanged exterior.
Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion
The Josey Pavilion serves as a demonstration site for the Dixon Water Foundation’s effort to promote healthy watersheds. Pared back to the most essential components, the pavilion has a chameleonlike quality depending on the time of day. Pivoting doors transform the nature of the space and meet various users’ needs. Beautifully detailed wood construction and an exceptionally well-crafted gutter system speak to the architects' focus on detail and essentials.
Miró Rivera Architects
The F1 Tower creates amazing effects with simple and few elements, translating a sense of acceleration from the horizontal to the vertical dimension. It is starkly present and ephemeral at the same time, accommodating multiple programs as an observation tower, a performance area, and a signifier of speed. “For those who like objects, the F1 is a pretty incredible object.”
Gallery at Turtle Creek
The Gallery at Turtle Creek strongly responds to the need establish residential density in Dallas’ urban core. In a neighborhood that is otherwise low-density, the courtyard typology promotes a communal sensibility, while the glazed corner of the structure and externalized amenities create a sense of greater public accessibility at the street level.
The Gardner represents a gratifying adaptive reuse of an unloved building — a former post office. The architect opened up the structure in very precise ways, with minimal intervention on the exterior. Inside, light animates the room, and home-scale, carefully crafted elements are abstracted to the point that they become edgy or unusual while maintaining a sense of intimacy.
Ingenious, sophisticated, playful… The glass and steel Gourd has all the characteristics of delight and inventiveness that one wishes were at play in all architectural projects, large and small. Designed as a human-scale birdhouse, The Gourd was one of a number of small, intensely creative projects that emerged as a particular strength of the 2015 Design Award submissions.
New Hope Housing at Brays Crossing
The New Hope Housing project transforms a once-derelict motel into a platform for renewal. The attention paid to both the landscape elements and public exterior spaces is remarkable, while the dynamic use of color avoids clichés. The inclusion of a cut-metal mural by a local artist creates a sense of privacy while reflecting the exuberance of the overall design.
New Parkland Hospital
The abstraction of New Parkland Hospital’s facade counters its monumental scale, while the massing of structures gives it an almost campus-like feel. As visitors move inside, the environment feels hospitable and even elegant — a rarity in institutional buildings.
Tim Cuppett Architects
Pendleton House represents a thoughtful interpretation of the traditional farmhouse, employing familiar vernacular forms while resisting the conventions of any single tradition. The exterior skillfully contrasts brick and wood; the Shaker-like minimalism of the interior creates a modern sensibility while subtly subverting expected uses of space.
Phil Hardberger Park Urban Ecology Center
The design of the Hardberger Park Urban Ecology Center delivers an immediate correlation between its program as an environmental center, and its materiality and structure. A series of planes organize space and movement; gaps in the heavy stone wall address scale and material density. The broad array of materials used to build the structure (and seeming to almost "build the ground around it") maintains commonality with the site.
Miró Rivera Architects
A tall glass house nestled into an enclosed site, the Vertical House reads as an open lantern. The beautifully modulated structure and entry sequence differentiate it from the other glass box houses it references, engaging the site and its visitors in unexpected ways.