California Architects Honor Own : Experiments Hailed As State Council Lauds Achievements

Times Design Critic

A miscellany of building types and styles garnered this year's state design awards from the California Council of the American Institute of Architects.

The six projects winning honor awards included a singular, studied video viewing room in a La Jolla museum, a spirited "art installation" for a bakery outlet in a San Diego shopping mall, and a complex, massive university gymnasium in Berkeley.

Also cited for top honors was an expressive, sprawling water reclamation plant in the San Fernando Valley, a scintillating and exuberantly engineered single-family residence in Beverly Glen and an inventive, aphoristic addition to a Venice house.

"The range of these design awards show an incredible richness," declared Paul Kennon, president of CRS Sirrine in Houston, who chaired the three-member jury for the council. Other members were Peter Papademetriou, a proferssor of architecture at Rice University, Houston, and Tod Williams, a New York architect,

Willing to Experiment

Kennon added that if anything distinguished the selection culled from about 280 submissions, it was the willingness of the designers to experiment. He and the other jurors explained that they looked to California as a place where architects can dream; a place where they can take risks.

"You can sum up the design awards by saying: Californians dare," Kennon said. He made his remarks during a panel discussion following the announcement of the awards at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, where the council was holding its annual design conference. This year's theme was "Urbanism."

With an emphasis on architecture as objects, the awards conflicted in part with the conference, which was exploring architecture as a tool in an increasingly urbanizing California.

The conflict was expressed in various questions to the panel concerning the context of the winning projects rather than their styling, and reflected a growing schism in architecture today between those more involved with personal aesthetic issues and those more concerned with broader social and user issues.

Lyrical and Mystical

In its award to Rob Wellington Quigley for the video room in the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, the jury declared that the project was both lyrical and mystical, "scraping away at the walls of the existing structure and postulating the old against the new in a very clear way. . . ."

"The mundane into sheer poetry," was how the jury described Grondona Architects design for Claudia's bakery in Horton Plaza in San Diego.

The gymnasium winning honors was designed by ELS/ Elbasani & Architects for UC Berkeley. Cited by the jury was the building's "delightful" detailing and invention, and its recognition of the surrounding pedestrian life.

The Donald C. Tillman water reclamation plant designed by the firm of Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall was praised for expressing and celebrating its use.

House Spans Gully

"This architect has a beautiful sense of siting, a beautiful sense of creating vistas," commented the jury in awarding honors to Barton Phelps for his design of the Arroyo House. The house, structured as a bridge, spans a gulley in Beverly Glen.

In praising the design of the Bergren residence in Venice by the firm of Morphosis, the jury declared that "its success lies in the retention of the simple ideas through an elaborate process of decomposition and reformation."

Among other projects winning honors, was the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's concrete-block Storer house in Hollywood by Eric Lloyd Wright, the architect's grandson, and Martin Eli Weil. The house is now owned by movie producer Joel Silver.

"This restoration should be an example for institutions and individuals within California to take on the responsibility that they have to preserve their history and to build upon it," stated the jury.

Also winning a restoration award was the firm of Gillis/Judson/Wade for All Saints Church in Hayward. The jury noted the architect's creative use of modern materials so as not to offend ther building's historic presence.

Other Winners

Winning the council's firm of the year award was William Turnbull Associates of San Francisco. Among the many local, state and national award-winning projects the firm has been associated with since its founding in 1962 was the Sea Ranch condominiums.

The winner of the first Nathaniel A. Owings Award for significant contribution to the environment was Margaret Owings, the wife of the late architect for whom the award is named. With her husband, she had been quite active in conservation efforts in the Big Sur area.

Winning council merit awards for design were, in Venice, the 72 Market Street restaurant, by Morphosis, and the Pytka Temporary Studio, by William Adams; in Minneapolis, the International Market Square, by Kaplan/McLaughlin/Diaz of San Francisco, and in San Francisco, the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's local office there, and a house by James Shay for himself.

Other merit winners were, in Los Angeles, the Petal House, by Eric Owen Moss of Culver City, and, in Jolla, a commercial and residential complex by Martinez/ Wong & Associates, with consultanting architects Wheeler/Wimer and Robert A. M. Stern.

Projects completed, including renovatins and restorations, within the last five years, were eligible for the annual competition.

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