Announced last week, the Small Projects Awards given by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) celebrate compact and low-budget architecture and installations completed in the USA over the past year. Among the 11 recipients of this year's awards, two were alumni of the College of Environmental Design: Warren Techentin (BA Arch ‘90) of Warren Techentin Architecture and Max Levy (BA Arch ‘71) of Max Levy Architect.
“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,” said the AIA. Now in its 14th year, the program encompasses three categories: architectural designs or objects completed for under $150,000; projects measuring up to 5,000 square feet; or small buildings and installations that cost up to $1,500,000.
La Cage aux Folles, Los Angeles, by Warren Techentin Architecture
Installed in the courtyard gallery of Materials & Applications, this project is an experimental bent steel tube structure that explores the craft of pipe bending, joining form, computational procedures, and fabrication processes into a complex structure that assumes various postures and porosities through looping and layering.
La Cage aux Folles actively engages the neighbourhood by opening the courtyard to the sidewalk as a pocket park, albeit a small one. In this way, Techentin wanted the project to lay within the traditions of both landscape architecture and urbanism. Its engagement with the street provided a space for both unscripted use and curated performances.
La Cage aux Folles has become a social condenser for the neighbourhood and host to many activities during its run, including a three-person dance performance and a video animation of hummingbirds mid-flight—in slow motion—projected through multiple scrims.
Prospect House, Dripping Springs, Texas, by Max Levy Architect
Prospect House is a wedding and event space standing in a 20-acre field of rolling native prairie. It can accommodate celebrations in numerous configurations indoors, outdoors, and on a huge screened-in porch. Above the main hall is a large wind vane. Its mast extends down into the room and supports a 12-foot diameter ring that can be decorated.
The ring turns with the breezes, connecting festivities inside with the world outside. This is modernism reflecting an old-fashioned approach: boards, white paint, and corrugated sheet metal, generously open to almost any function, reframing people’s awareness of simple things.