A variety of styles and structures garnered this year's awards of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
In contrast with recent years, the jury displayed a healthy, if arbitrary, eclecticism in reviewing 154 projects submitted by the ever-hopeful members of the local chapter.
A total of 13 projects were honored, ranging from modest, inventive residential and commercial remodelings to major, assertive retail and educational complexes.
Six of the coveted awards went to designs by just three firms: William Adams Associates, John Aleksich Associates and Frank O. Gehry & Associates, with each winning two.
"The categories, and the winning designs, I think reflect the realities of architecture in Los Angeles today," commented jury member Kurt Forster, an architectural historian and director of the Getty Center for Art History and the Humanities.
Also serving on the jury was Fumihiko Maki, a much-honored architect best known for a series of singular designs in Japan, and Arthur May, of the New York-based firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Among the firm's many designs is the Post Modern concoction of an office tower rising downtown on Wilshire Boulevard just east of the Harbor Freeway. The projects garnering Honor Awards for the Adams firm were, in the new single-family residential category, the Croyden House in Topanga Canyon, and, in the interiors category, the Pytka Film studio in Venice.
The jury called the Croyden House "a very livable house with an inventive plan . . . The sequence of pavilion-like units, each scaled separately, enriches the occupant's sense of passage and experience." The film studio was described as "spatially rich and imaginatively detailed."
In awarding honors in the small commercial/industrial category to the Arlington II Office Building designed by the Aleksich firm, the jury said that "inexpensive materials, simple but thoughtful detailing and an effective use of colors combine to lend the building identity, even a stage-like presence." It concluded that the effect was "memorable."
The firm's design of the entrance and mall shops at the Los Angeles Zoo took a Merit Award in the cultural, religious, entertainment category. "A pleasant and unimposing way to receive people, appropriate in gesture and inviting in every part . . . elegantly organized and ornamented with crisp lettering," declared the jury.
Taking the Honor Award in the category was the Frances Goldwyn Library in Hollywood, designed by the Gehry office. "A marvelously sculptural composition with a dynamic rapport among its parts and a strong use of light inside and out," stated the jury. It added that the building "demonstrates that a certain grandeur and inventive power can be realized even on a modest budget."
Gehry's computer and engineering research facility at UC Irvine also won an Honor Award, in the education category. "Different materials and colors both accentuate separate parts and tie starkly volumetric units into a composition," said the jury. "A splendid stage of eminently architectural character and powerful public imagery."
Other winners in the small commercial/industrial category included an Honor Award for a testing facility in Sylmar designed by Richard Rose and Ronald Rose, and a Merit Award for Sawtelle Place in West Los Angeles, designed by Urmston, Stiehl Associates.
"A building of refreshing simplicity and clarity of purpose . . . lean in its elements and lovingly detailed, it manages to make a simple, volumetric statement while allowing its utilitarian components to assume a poetic presence," said the jury of the Rose & Rose design. Sawtelle Place was cited for, among other things, its "simple, strong plan" and its "cheerful facades."
In the large commercial category, winning a Merit Award, was Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego, designed by the Jerde Partnership. "This project, with its razzle-dazzle and unvarnished mix of architectural forms, is as willful as it is lively and successful," commented the jury. "It raises basic cornball stuff momentarily to an effective level of ephemeral design."
An Honor Award in the residential remodel category went to the Bernstein residence in Sherman Oaks, designed by Rebecca Binder. "A beautiful transformation of a humdrum house into a strongly composed, lovingly detailed residence," declared the jury.
Winning Merit awards in the new multi-family residential category was Yorkshire Terrace in the Pico-Union neighborhood, designed by John Mutlow; in the commercial remodel category, the Cafe Pizzeria Angeli, designed by the firm of Morphosis; and in the unbuilt category, a house designed by Panos Koulermos Architects.
The jury said of the Mutlow design that it "possesses a sense of amenity and scale," adding that the "privacy and public presence are handsomely balanced and the interior court with its use of colors and elementary shapes results in a delightful housing project."
The jury described the Morphosis design as "a perhaps perversely idiosyncratic project which possesses many refinements without losing spatial clarity," and the Koulermos design "a sophisticated definition of interior spaces and neatly balanced exterior volumes."
The winning firms, their clients and their contractors were honored Saturday night at a dinner at the Mulholland Tennis Club organized by the local chapter.