Following its announcement that its Gold Medal would be going to Steven Holl for his luminous buildings this year, the American Institute for Architects has just announced the recipient of its Twenty-five Year Award: the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica.
The award (which Frank Gehry can put next to his Pritzker, National Medal of Arts, and 1999 AIA Gold Medal) recognizes buildings whose relevance and impact on architecture endure for more than 25 years. Gehry and his wife moved into an existing salmon-pink Dutch colonial in 1977, long before the Guggenheim Bilbao was erected, but only a year before Gehry transformed the little bungalow into the glimmering Bilbao's polar opposite. Much to the chagrin of his neighbors, he wrapped his home on three sides with the rawest of materials — jagged panels of corrugated metal, plywood, and chain link fencing — transforming it into a symbol of desconstructivist architecture. Its raffish exterior of seeming construction site scraps altered the perception of industrial building materials, making them not only suitable but desirable by the upper class.
The AIA also revealed the 2012 winners in its other seven categories, which recognize excellence Interior Architecture, Public Architecture, and Regional and Urban Design among others. The Interior award went to Andre Kikoski's the Wright, a restaurant housed in New York's Guggenheim whose familiar white, stacked ceiling references the work of the architect it’s named after (after all, construction within a Wright building is an intimidating task). Patrick Tighe was also honored in this category for the Los Angeles "Memory Temple," an installation that doubled as an experiment with sound; the parabolic cavern, flooded with natural light, was hallowed out of white, renewable polyurethane foam that resonated with the classical music played within.
The AIA’s highest honor for an architectural firm went to Minnesota-based Vincent James Associates Architects for its thorough research and adaptation to its clients’ needs. The firm constructed the Charles Hostler Student Center, for example — a stone and glass complex in Beirut, with solar panels, and equipped it with passive cooling elements like an orientation away from the sun to temper the hot, arid climate. VJAA’s aesthetic, no matter where their work is located, can be characterized as truly Midwestern: polite, friendly, and unassuming.
Visionary structures from around the world were bestowed the Institute Honor Awards, including Bjarke Ingels Group's Copenhagen 8 House, a mixed commercial and residential building named for its unusual figure 8 shape and particularly noted for its enormous sloping green roofs. Ennead Architects have been honored for New York’s Standard Hotel, an 18-story hinged wall of glass and concrete that straddles the High Line Park. Ennead is the brains behind the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows that give the hotel a unique transparency that affords stunning views of the city for guests on the inside, as well as voyeuristic views for passersby below (a sight which should garner an award of its own).
The AIA Awards ceremony takes place in May in Washington, D.C.