Every year the American Institute of Architects (AIA) holds a yearly competition in which licensed architects around the country have the opportunity to showcase their talents to the world. Annually, there is a different theme and three different categories to compete in. Category one is any “small project construction, object, work of environmental art or architectural design up to $150,000 in construction cost” (AIA.org). Category two is any small project with construction costs up to $1.5 million, and category three is any small project construction, object, or work of environmental art or architectural design under 5,000 square feet in which the architect has significant role in construction, installation, and fabrication. The theme this year was “Together we…”. The AIA intentionally left this theme open-ended to promote a wide-range of interpretation.
Category 1 has three winners, all of which are projects that are exemplary of the theme. A notable recipient is titled Klein A45. Klein A45 was designed by BIG-Bkarke Ingels Group and owned by Live Klein. This prototype was constructed in New York, New York and entails a square base with a twisted roof at 45 degrees that goes up 13 feet. The 180 square feet of internal square space is finished with Douglas fir floor natural cork walls, a Morsoe wood-burning fireplace, a petite kitchen, hand-crafted furniture, a custom fitted bed, and a cedar-wood bathroom. Not only does this tiny home bring the nature inside, but A45 was constructed with 100% recyclable materials.
Klein A45 Photo credit: www.AIA.org
In contrast to category one, category two has six Small Project Award recipients. With a $1.5 million maximum budget in construction costs, each winner went above and beyond to showcase their abilities. Prayer Space, designed by debartolo architects and owned by the Redemption Church in Gilbert, Arizona, represents how architecture can turn simple wood parts into a place that is greater than our physical reality. The Redemption Church challenged debartolo architects to create a space that was made solely for prayer and communication with God. The principle material, Douglas fir 2x4’s, lines the floors, walls, ceilings, and benches. The common goal behind this strategy being “One ordinary material, with thousands of imperfections, [is] made into something extraordinary when unified” (AIA.org). This is directly analogous to the church, meaning that although people are expressions of God on an individual basis, when unified, the whole is more beautiful than the pieces.
Prayer Space Photo Credit: www.AIA.org
Looking at the final category, projects designed under 5000 square feet, there are three last recipients. A peculiar yet sublime project is Long Peak Toilets designed by Colorado Building Workshop and owned by the National Park Service. This unique model is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Park. The goal behind this project was to minimize the human footprint in the backcountry of Colorado and determine a more humane solution to collecting waste. This small space was created with a series of prefabricated structural gabion walls. Thin steel plate moment frames and stones collected on-site encapsulate the interior walls to create a camouflaged look within the surrounding landscape.
Long Peak Toilets Photo credit: www.AIA.org