Congratulations to our 2017 Studio Award winners! TA Editor Aaron Seward travelled to Chicago and oversaw the jury, which convened at the offices of Studio Gang on August 4. Jeanne Gang, FAIA, founding principal at Studio Gang, Margaret McCurry, FAIA, principal at Tigerman McCurry, and Thomas Kelley, founding principal at Norman Kelley, deliberated over 70 projects and chose five winners. The winners are listed below, along with descriptions provided by their design teams, in no particular order. A feature about the Studio Award winners will appear in the November/December issue of Texas Architect.

Houston-Galveston Area Protection System, Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers

The Houston-Galveston Area Protection System (H-GAPS) is a potential surge protection system where the Mid-Bay Barrier Islands and Mid-Bay Gate are envisioned as a cost-effective system that will protect both the vital industrial infrastructure of the Houston Ship Channel and the communities that line the western shore of Galveston Bay. Given the substantial investment that any storm protection system represents, the elements of that system must perform multiple functions at all times. During storm events, the primary function as a protective barrier is clear, but what happens the rest of the time? The Islands will be programmed as active recreational amenities for the Houston and Galveston Bay communities. From marinas for sailboats and sport craft, to sandy bayfront campsites, to an expansive network of bike, hike, horse, and running trails, the Islands will offer new ground and amenities for the enjoyment of the Bay by visitors and residents alike. In the way that great infrastructure projects like the Golden Gate Bridge and Chicago’s Navy Pier have contributed to the cultural quality of a region and become celebrated icons of their cities, H-GAPS provides protection while embracing the opportunity to do more for the region.

Karl Marx Allee 3.0 Interrelational Communities, Connie Chang and Alex Yen-Jung Wu, The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

As architects, how can we both spatially and socially integrate new communities into an existing urban fabric? Berlin is a dynamic city whose urban fabric is the manifestation of its discordant past. The neighborhoods adjacent to Karl Marx Allee are large-scale embodiments of the modernist urban design concept of “Towers in a Park.” Within this context, however, the “park” is left undeveloped. The combination of typological “towers” and lack of ownership of the “park” generates a dissonance that is felt throughout the neighborhood. Our urban intervention introduces an alternative system of densification specific to this neighborhood of East Berlin. The system is antithetical to the ideology of the existing Modernist blocks and shies away from singular architectural and urban forms. By utilizing diverse, smaller-scale components, this methodology creates cohesive communities that layer within the existing context and reclaim underutilized open space. The design is organized by a tessellation in which the unit is comprised of enclosed mass, inhabitable surfaces, and voids. This proposed system of housing seeks to promote new methods of urban living. By rejecting the singular apartment building, the aggregation of units and shared spaces instigate a more cohesive urban community. Visual porosity across levels and interstitial conditions generate opportunities for spontaneous community interaction.

Filtered Frame Dock, Matt Fajkus Architecture

In addition to its role as nautical landing apparatus, the dock is a calibrated instrument for light and ventilation. The structure provides varied experiences across the ecotone — above the water, along the water, in the water, and immersed in a rehabilitated designed landscape. A stainless steel roof composed of two triangulated planes is optimized for articulating views to and from the site as well as modulating sunlight exposure to establish a comfortable and functional year-round space in sun and shade. The roof’s solar orientation influenced the overall structural frame to shift within the maximum 14′ x 30′ buildable area. Durable materials like the steel structure are accentuated and refined deliberately for sensory experiences beyond their inherent duty of making a strong and reliable structural system. The structural frame is clad with a parametric perforated steel screen. Thousands of unique, laser-cut perforations are shaped and distributed along the surfaces based on desired sight lines, direct solar exposure, and shade, and relate to the rise and run of the stairs and roof slope, all while providing structural reinforcement for the overall frame. Intentionally crafted as an integrated component of the overall site conditions, the dock transitions to and from the designed landscape and lake, as well as from existing to new vegetation along the ravine.

Palm Street Aircraft Observation Park, Legge Lewis Legge

Located at the end of the runway, this aircraft observation park is designed to be a dynamic and engaging spatial experience — serving as both gateway and destination. As gateway, the park serves as the northeastern entrance to the airport used by travelers coming by public transit. As destination, the park allows visitors a fresh and inviting perspective from which to watch planes land at the San Diego Airport. We began by exploring how the park itself can elevate people off the ground. A gradual slope across the width of the site creates a gentle rise, allowing people a view over the security fencing and to the airfield beyond. The rise culminates in a ridgeline running the length of the park. A lawn cantilevered over the roadway on the airport side extends past the ridgeline to create an area where people can lounge and picnic on the grass. Straight, sloped walkways, pointing to the sky, provide an accessible path through the park. The site was designed to meet SITES certification; its plantings bring a piece of the native coastal Chaparral landscape vegetation to this urban site.

Face the Mist, DO.GROUP Design

Face the Mist is a documentary project and temporary installation intended to foster an understanding of issues facing Austin’s underserved populations. In partnership with the C.D. Doyle Clinic — located less than three blocks west of the creek — patients will be given an opportunity to anonymously or publicly speak to the issues directly affecting their health and well-being. Throughout the year, a series of interviews and portraits will be compiled in both online and print formats. The resulting collection will be featured during Austin’s annual “Creek Show,” encouraging awareness, empathy, and respect for the mission of the clinic and those it serves. Portraits collected during the year will be projected onto an ephemeral cloud of foggy mist beneath the 7th Street bridge. Rolled steel armatures connected by a long section of unistrut pipe will rest on the creek bed, incorporating counterweights for stability, but requiring no drilling or ecological disruption. A subsurface pump and filter will channel creek water through flexible tubing running up the armatures and across the unistrut pipe. A commercial grade misting system will create the billowing fog from nozzles within the pipe. Two battery powered projectors, mounted from the armature above, will supply the imagery that will appear within the mist. Face the Mist was not selected for inclusion in Creek Show 2017.

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The Karl Marx Allee 3.0 – Interrelational Communities project was a partner project and it would be great if the other designer could also be recognized, Alex Yen-Jung Wu.
Thank you for the Studio Award! It is an honor to be chosen along with these great architects.

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