After a lapse of a decade, the Ventura County chapter of the American Institute of Architects has renewed its awards for design, citing a mix of projects from a car dealership to a housing project for farm workers.
"The range of the entire groupings of entries tended to reflect not only the current state of the economy, but the kind of future we are headed toward," said James H. Azbell, local AIA president. "I particularly enjoyed the fact that one of the winners was a car dealership because, as Southern Californians, we are married to our vehicles."
Twelve architectural firms entered the competition with a total of 30 projects. The competition was open to architects who practice in Ventura County or to those who have done projects in the county. Judges were from outside the county.
Azbell said the competition, which is to be held every two years, ceased 10 years ago because of the work involved in staging it.
The winners are Rasmussen & Associates, Ventura, honor award for Thompson Plaza Retail Center, Ventura, and merit award for Gold Coast Acura, Ventura; Scott Ellinwood & Associates, Ventura, honor award for Templeman Educational Center in Port Hueneme; M & V Architects, Texas, merit award for private residence in Ojai; John V. Mutlow, Los Angeles, merit award for Cabrillo Village farm workers housing, Saticoy, and Zelma Wilson, Ojai, merit award for Oak Grove Secondary School in Ojai.
Thompson Plaza Retail Center is a 15,600-square-foot building with commercial and auto service facilities, designed on a sloping corner lot. Because the site faces a busy street, the architect designed the building so the slope allowed the auto service functions to be partly inserted under the retail space, screening it from surrounding properties.
The Templeman Educational Center, which houses the administrative offices of the Hueneme School District, also received a national citation jointly from the AIA and the American Assn. of School Administrators. Not only was the building designed to maximize natural light, but the steeply pitched roof was added to discourage skateboarders and bicycle riders, who have plagued some of the district's other facilities, according to an AIA statement.
The building, built by the city of Port Hueneme for the school district, is across from Port Hueneme's City Hall, which has similar architecture.
Gold Coast Acura, in the Ventura Auto Center, is a 16,500-square-foot building on a 2.3-acre site.
"We came up with a one-of-a-kind design for the building and it worked pretty well," said David Sargent, vice president of Rasmussen & Associates.
Sargent said the firm wanted to achieve the same feeling in the service bays that it had in the showroom. "We tried to make them all look good," he said.
Cabrillo Village is low-income farm worker housing surrounded by lemon groves. It originally was a farm worker camp, with deteriorated board-and-batten cabins built in the 1930s.
Mutlow designed the new village with flat roofs, solid walls and earth colors reminiscent of Mexican adobes.
Oak Grove Secondary School is a private school built by the Krishnamurti Foundation. It is "woven around beautiful oak trees," Wilson said.
The campus, set on 150 acres, includes five other buildings. Wilson said she attempted to consider the movement of people, particularly the safe circulation of children from parents' cars.
The building has a large open skylight atrium, and various vistas of the property can be viewed from the corridors.
Wilson said the design awards are a way "to see how well the architect resolved the problem as presented to them by the client on the particular piece of property. . . . I tried to use materials most appropriate to making it look like it belonged there."
The AIA chapter has about 75 members, mostly from the western end of the county, Azbell said.