2012 AIA Small Project Award Recipients

The AIA Small Project Practitioners (SPP) Knowledge Community presents the eighth annual Small Project Awards Program to recognize small project practitioners for the high quality of their work and to promote excellence in small project design. This Award Program strives to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects bring to projects, no matter the limits of size and scope. Read the letter from the Chair.

Awards of Excellence


SPECS  Optical Facade

SPECS Optical Facade

Architect: Alchemy Architects
Location: Minneapolis

The irony of an optical shop that one can’t see on one of the busiest commercial streets in Minneapolis was not lost on the business owners. Landscape beautification installed by the city obscured their storefront, and sign code limitations prevented the shop from using signage that would be visible behind the trees and bushes. The architects investigated both code options and technology to create architecture inseparable from the idea of sign.

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The Mobile Dwelling Cube

The Mobile Dwelling Cube

Architect: SPACEFLAVOR
Location: Oakland

Commissioned by a Feng Shui practitioner for his industrial loft, this compact mobile dwelling cube allows the client to balance his personal and professional life in one space.

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OS House

OS House

Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Location: Racine, Wis.

Located in an old rustbelt city neighborhood, this LEED Platinum-certified home occupies an infill lot at the edge of Lake Michigan. A series of outdoor rooms are carved out of the compact building form, creating an open entry court, upper level patios, and a shaded terrace, all confined within the boundaries of the rectangular volume itself.

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Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church

Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox
Christian Church

Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architect
Location: Springdale, Ark.

The church is the result of a transformation of an existing metal shop building into a sanctuary and fellowship hall. The original structure is enveloped by a new skin, obscuring and refining the original gabled form. Although a small structure, its bold form makes it visible and recognizable from the nearby interstate.

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The Ghost Houses

The Ghost Houses

Architect: curb
Location: Knoxville

The Ghost Houses project was not supposed to be possible - five units of housing and a studio in three structures on a one quarter acre infill lot with an historic zoning overlay. Yet, by using the history of the site as a wedge we were able to overcome ossified regulations to create a progressive project consistent with our interest in dense, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods and architecture that is simultaneously responsive to both its locus and global environmental concerns.

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Becherer House

Becherer House

Architect: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA
Location: Charlottesville, Va.

Rolling pastures, bordered with dark, stained fences interspersed in woodlands define the Albemarle County, Virginia countryside where this project is located. The new house is sited at the edge of woodland on the crest of a hill, providing vantage view points of the pastures and distant treetops. The house is conceived of three gable-roofed pavilions that provide a threshold between the woodlands and the pastures, taking advantage of two very different scenic panoramas.

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L Residence

L Residence

Architect: Min | Day
Location: Omaha

This filmmaker's apartment reinterprets the use of poché to support Baroque theatricality and proposes a cinematic architecture of sequence and frame. The use of “virtual poché” in the Baroque to hide service spaces is updated through a cinematic emphasis on thinness and surface instead of solidity and mass.

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Awards of Merit


Cape Russell Retreat

Cape Russell Retreat

Architect: Sanders Pace Architecture
Location: Sharps Chapel, Tenn.

The owners commissioned the architect to design and coordinate construction of an off-the-grid lakeside pavilion with integrated water reclamation and photovoltaic technology for weekend use.

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Stacked Cabin

Stacked Cabin

Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Location: Muscoda, Wis.

This modest cabin for a young family sits at the end of an old logging road, its compact volume built into a densely wooded slope at the edge of a clearing.

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Yao Residence

Yao Residence

Architect: Perimeter Architects
Location: Chicago

The Yao Residence is an existing wood frame single family residence. Architects were hired to redefine the house in its entirety. This house is 30 feet from a CTA brown, red, and purple line train platform. With over 4 million passengers using this stop each year, a focus on sound, view, and natural light was required.

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Shade Platform

Shade Platform

Architect: SmithGroupJJR
Location: Phoenix

The project started as a re-roofing project. The existing roof of the historic Maricopa County Security Center Building had deteriorated under an ill-considered addition of turf after being made into an accessible space with a 1958 penthouse addition.

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