Pusadee's Garden. Photo by Ed Massery.

From an artful expansion of a beloved family Thai restaurant in Lawrenceville to a reinvention of a 1907 horse stable into a distillery in the Strip, Pittsburgh architects responded to a challenging year with standout work. Eleven local winners of the AIA Pennsylvania Architectural Excellence Awards were recently recognized for their creativity and skill.

“Once again we are pleased to honor some of the outstanding work our members have done to design homes, schools, places of worship, and work,” says Stephen Swarney, executive director of AIA Pennsylvania.

“These winners showcase some of the best work that is happening in the profession today. Our outstanding jurors gave us a glimpse of the present and into the future that includes built spaces that are healthy, safe, sustainable and welcoming places that people want to be.”

The 2021 Special Awards Nomination committee included Pittsburgh architects Parva Markiw, project architect at DesignGroup, and Rob Pfaffmann, president of Pfaffmann + Associates.

Here are the locally-based winners this year:

Pusadee’s Garden. Photo by Ed Massery.
Pusadee’s Garden. Photo by Ed Massery.

mossArchitects, based in Garfield, won an Honor Award in the Architectural Excellence Design Awards category for the redesign and expansion of Pusadee’s Garden (one of our 21 best new restaurants of 2021) in Lawrenceville.

The jury noted: “The design challenge for the new Pusadee’s Garden restaurant was to create a garden oasis within the dense urban fabric of the city, while utilizing two existing 100-year-old row houses. The design enclosed the space between the existing historic buildings with two new connecting additions and an expansive hidden garden courtyard became the figurative and literal heart and focal point of the entire restaurant.”

Kingfly Spirits in the Strip District. Photo by Ed Massery.

Margittai Architects, based in the South Side, received a Merit Award in the Architectural Excellence Design Awards category for the design of Kingfly Spirits in the Strip District.

The jury noted: “Built in 1907, the 10,000-square-foot structure was built as a horse stable and served several functions over the years, including a taxi depot and consignment store. For this underutilized building, which had little infrastructure, the owner challenged us to design a micro-distillery with a welcoming interior that serves both as an amenity to be enjoyed by Strip District neighbors, as well as a destination spot for visitors.”

Erica Cochran Hameen. Photo courtesy of AIA Pennsylvania.

• Erica Cochran Hameen, Ph.D., received an Impact Designer Award in the category of Architectural Excellence Special Awards. Hameen is the inaugural department director of diversity, equity and inclusion, the track chair of the doctor of professional practice program and assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Beatrice Spolidoro. Photo courtesy of AIA Pennsylvania.

• Beatrice Spolidoro won an Emerging Professional Award.

From the jury: “Bea Spolidoro is an Italian architect in Pittsburgh, PA. She has worked at Rothschild Doyno Collaborative for seven years, and she is now a principal at Fisher ARCHitecture … Her service to society is manifested through her teaching and presenting on architecture-related topics, showing how design impacts our everyday lives. Bea is also passionate about designing sustainable, healthy environments. For her, good design should improve both the physical and mental health of people.”

Photo courtesy of AIA Pennsylvania.

• The Carpenters’ Pittsburgh Training Center won the Raymond J. Sinagra Allied Trades Award. The jury noted: “The apprenticeship program at the Carpenters’ Training Center offers a four-year tuition-free program in six different skilled crafts: commercial carpentry, floor covering, pile driver, heavy highway construction, millwright, and mill cabinet. Apprentices are trained in a combination of classroom/workshop and on-the-job training. While completing the classroom/workshop training at the Training Center, apprentices are learning valuable skill sets that put them on the cutting edge of the construction industry while also earning college credits towards an associate degree in carpentry.”

Carly Sacco of CMU. Photo courtesy of AIA Pennsylvania.

• Carly Sacco of Carnegie Mellon University won an Architectural Excellence Student Award.

• In addition, 23 firms were given EPiC Firm Recognition for supporting emerging architectural professionals, including Pittsburgh’s DesignGroup, evolveEA, HDR, IKM Architecture and Rothschild Doyno Collaborative.

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.