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High Meadow at Fallingwater by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Photo by Nic Lehoux Photography.

The Minneapolis jury of architects has spoken and AIA Pittsburgh has bestowed awards to local architects for exceptional architectural work in Pittsburgh and beyond.

The annual Design Awards celebrate excellence in architecture and design and honor those who create it. A jury from outside Pittsburgh is convened and the submissions in a variety of categories from sustainable design to historic preservation are judged anonymously.

This year 12 awards were given out by the jury, chaired by Bill Baxley of LEO A DALY. Several of the awards were given to projects that provided a solution or update to an existing building—the bright and colorful transformation of a “bunker-like” community library or the addition of a hospital tower that would improve patient and family experience.

New construction was also highlighted—The Tower at PNC Plaza by Gensler received two awards—one for architecture and one for sustainable design.

Here are the AIA Pittsburgh Design Awards winners for 2016:

aia pittsburgh design awards navadapt
NavADAPT LAB for ACTION-Housing, Inc. by Urban Design Build Studio. Photo by Urban Design Build Studio.

Design + Innovation Award of Excellence: NavADAPT LAB for ACTION-Housing, Inc. by Urban Design Build Studio.

HIGHLIGHTS: The ADAPTIVE Kitchen is a prototype kitchen being developed for an underserved minority—disabled veterans—specifically to serve those with lower limb loss, visual impairment and limited mobility.

JURY COMMENTS: The research and work that have gone into the development of the human-centered NavADAPT LAB are impressive. This kind of project could have limitless possibilities in advancing architecture in the realms of technology, prototyping, and social impact design.

aia pittsburgh design awards knoxville
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Knoxville Branch by GBBN Architects. Photos by Massery Photography, Inc.

Architecture Honor Award: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Knoxville Branch for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh by GBBN Architects at 400 Brownsville Road in Pittsburgh.

HIGHLIGHTS: The 1962 Brutalist-style Carnegie Library in Knoxville is updated to be a bright and inviting destination for the Knoxville community. The deeply recessed entrances were moved forward to provide views to the street and daylight to the interior.

JURY COMMENTS: With minimal moves and thoughtful details, the bunker-like building has been transformed into a welcoming living room for the community that engages the street. The care with which the architects have transformed the building will have an outsized impact on everyone who visits the library.

aia pittsburgh design awards gensler
The Tower at PNC Plaza by Gensler. Photos by Connie Zhou Photography.

Architecture Honor Award: The Tower at PNC Plaza for PNC by Gensler at 300 Fifth Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.

HIGHLIGHTS: Although the building rises vertically, the ground level is connected to PNC Plaza and offers a direct route to Market Square. Inside, two-level workplace “neighborhoods” create micro-communities to connect people at a familiar scale.

JURY COMMENTS: The vertical deployment of color through transparency becomes a defining element of this work. This project is deeply responsive to content, material, and its cultural, historical and physical environment. This is a successful building on many levels.

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High Meadow at Fallingwater by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Photo by Nic Lehoux Photography.

Architecture Certificate of Merit: High Meadow at Fallingwater for Western Pennsylvania Conservancy by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson in Mill Run, PA.

HIGHLIGHTS: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson also designed The Barn at Fallingwater in 2006 which won an AIA Pittsburgh Design Award. “We are deeply honored to again contribute to the rich tradition of architecture in this area,” says architect Bill James. “This was a great project to create something regional and to utilize and leverage materials from the site.”

JURY COMMENTS: This is a well-crafted project that elegantly sets itself along the edge of the landscape. The reuse of the spruce material from the site was thoughtfully considered as a thread linking the project’s components.

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Forbes Hospital Elevator Tower and Emergency Department Addition by IKM Incorporated. Photo by Massery Photography, Inc.

Architecture Certificate of Merit: Forbes Hospital Elevator Tower and Emergency Department Addition for Allegheny Health Network, Forbes Hospital by IKM Inc. at 2570 Haymaker Road in Monroeville.

HIGHLIGHTS: After a traumatic event brought critically wounded patients and community members into the hospital, patient transport was identified as a primary concern since there were no elevators for patients that could provide a direct connection between departments.

JURY COMMENTS: The elevator tower and addition deftly connect and transform the hospital complex in a manner which is both beautiful and highly functional. The color, materiality and transparency of the new anodized aluminum panels complement and elevate the existing brick buildings, bringing the existing hospital forward with new relevance.

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Floriated Interpretation by Urban Design Build Studio. Photos by Urban Design Build Studio.

Architecture Certificate of Merit: Floriated Interpretation for Floriated Interpretation Nursery by Urban Design Build Studio at 4737 Second Avenue in Hazelwood.

HIGHLIGHTS: Floriated Interpretation Nursery needed a solution to help them store dry goods in the spring, shade sun-sensitive plants in the summer, and protect plants from freezing over the winter.

JURY COMMENTS: It’s a project with a low budget that creatively gives a new face to a community retail space. The engagement of the community in the development of the project gives it a character not often seen in architecture projects.

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Buddy’s Brews on Carson by Margittai Architects. Photo by Kristina Helen Schmidt of KHS and Co.
Buddy’s Brews on Carson by Margittai Architects. Photo by Kristina Helen Schmidt of KHS and Co.

Historic Preservation Award of Excellence: Buddy’s Brews on Carson for Jacob Nickman by Margittai Architects at 2112 East Carson Street on the South Side.

HIGHLIGHTS: Hidden gems, including transom windows and evidence of a balconette, were discovered during the removal of existing signage. “Transforming this beloved building was a mystery we had to uncover to figure out the original design,” says architect Peter Margittai who adds that old soot deposits present on the brick were used as clues.

JURY COMMENTS: Historic projects can be very complicated. This project makes the complexity look simple and reinvigorates the façade with beautiful storefronts.

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Centre Avenue Corridor Redevelopment & Design Plan by evolve environment :: architecture

Regional + Urban Design Certificate of Merit: Centre Avenue Corridor Redevelopment & Design Plan for Hill Community Development Corporation by evolve environment :: architecture in the Hill District.

HIGHLIGHTS: Centre Avenue is reimagined as a place of exchange—where residents come to meet, visitors are welcomed, institutions share resources, and businesses showcase their offerings.

JURY COMMENTS: By focusing on several small interventions along an urban path, the team has envisioned a realistic timeline for growth and transformation. The jurors were struck by the use of time as an integrated design tool. The community engagement process was simply and powerfully communicated in this submission.

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The Discovery of Bay 4 by Rothschild Doyno Collaborative. Photos by Rothschild Doyno Collaborative; Fort Willow Developers; Clear Story.

Regional + Urban Design Certificate of Merit: The Discovery of Bay 4 for Fort Willow Developers by Rothschild Doyno Collaborative at Willow and 42nd Streets in Lawrenceville.

HIGHLIGHTS: During demolition this iconic monument to the steel industry was revealed, providing a new civic space and dynamic pedestrian connection to the Allegheny River for public use. “This is like the Eiffel Tower on its side,” says architect Dan Rothschild. “It’s an iconic monument to Pittsburgh and why we are all here.”

JURY COMMENTS: This is a wonderful narrative and discovery of a purpose built structure and its transformation. Utilizing an internal armature as a “bridge” to the river—an urban stitch enabling public connection through a future development— it became a powerful icon of the past as a vision to the future.

Sustainable Design Award of Excellence: The Tower at PNC Plaza for PNC by Gensler.

HIGHLIGHTS: Shifting the building facade off the city grid maximizes daylight while a solar-powered chimney draws in fresh air and exhausts hot air, creating natural ventilation without energy use 42% of business days within a year.

JURY COMMENTS: This project emphasizes a message of sustainability, not only through the selection of materials and methods, but also by creating a civic work that will meet the evolving needs of client and community. The project beautifully integrated individual sustainable strategies within larger sustainable building goals.

People’s Choice Award
Each year the public also votes for one project and awards the Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc. People’s Choice Award. This year it was awarded to Wildman Chalmers Design, LLC for the BNY Mellon Innovation Center at 500 Grant Street in Downtown.

aia pittsburgh design awards people
People’s Choice Award winner BNY Mellon Innovation Center by Wildman Chalmers Design, LLC. Photo by Massery Photography, Inc.
People’s Choice Award winner BNY Mellon Innovation Center by Wildman Chalmers Design, LLC. Photo by Massery Photography, Inc.

And two more awards bestowed for projects outside of Pittsburgh:

aia pittsburgh design awards pwwg
21c Museum Hotel Lexington by Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel. Photo by Mike Schwartz Photography.

Historic Preservation Award of Excellence: 21c Museum Hotel Lexington for 21c Lexington, LLC by Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel at 167 W. Main St. in Lexington, KY.

HIGHLIGHTS: The 21c Museum Hotel Lexington restores and reemerges four adjacent commercial buildings at the historic center of downtown Lexington into an 88-room hotel with 7,000 square feet of gallery space, a signature restaurant, and event and meeting spaces. “What can we do to get one of these in Pittsburgh?” asked someone at the gala.

JURY COMMENTS: This is an extremely complex project! The design team truly valued the past as an inspiration to invent the future. While a wonderful addition to the 21c portfolio, the real winner is the city of Lexington and its future patrons.

aia pittsburgh design awards 37
Building 37 by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Photo by Jeffrey Totaro Architectural and Interiors Photography.

Interior Architecture Honor Award: Building 37 for Under Armour by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson at 1020 Hull Street in Baltimore, MD.

HIGHLIGHTS: Building 37 takes an abandoned big box store and upcycles it into a vibrant workplace.

JURY COMMENTS: Using a simple material palette, lighting variations and bright colors, the architects did an incredible job of transforming the original structure into an energizing, state-of-the-art work environment.

Maya Haptas

Maya Haptas has an M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University and is a freelance writer covering various topics from architecture and urban design to wellness and skateboarding. She is currently the assistant editor of Bigfoot Skateboarding Magazine.