Honoring Architecture That Puts People First

Times Design Critic

A wide variety of projects--from a farm workers village to beach-front homes to a cancer clinic that "proves hospitals don't have to be . . . cold" have been honored for their design by the California Council of the American Institute of Architects.

The annual awards program is one of the more competitive in the profession, this year attracting 272 entries, which were judged by a panel of out-of-state jurors. Twenty-one projects by California architects were honored at a recent conference in Monterey.

Among the Los Angeles-area winners was an inventively organized studio and home on a small, awkwardly shaped site in Hermosa Beach, designed by Dean Nota, and an energy-efficient, modernist double house on an ocean-front bluff in Malibu by Kanner Associates.

Also honored was the expansion of the Cabrillo Village farm workers housing complex in Saticoy, near Ventura, the work of the Los Angeles firm of John Mutlow.

The expansion--39 new housing units, a cooperative food market, a preschool facility and a chapel--hints in its simple two-story adobe shapes and earth colors of a traditional Southwestern architecture.

The building is an "unusually restrained and sensitive use of materials and forms," the jury declared.

The design also received a People in Architecture Award, a relatively new category that "recognizes projects that provide an outstanding response to user needs."

Cited in particular in the people award was the grouping of the buildings by Mutlow to form a courtyard serving the residents' need of privacy and a sense of community.

Also winning both an honor and people award was the design of the Escondido City Hall, by the firm of Pacific Associates Planners Architects of San Diego.

As the first phase of a civic center plan, the traditionally styled, expressively detailed building and its adjoining outdoor spaces and gardens were praised for lending the city a sense of place. "It defines Escondido today . . . and does it very well," the jury said.

As is traditional, the jury was composed of out-of-state judges. They were Hugh Hardy, of the New York-based firm of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates; George Hoover of Hoover Berg Desmond of Denver, and Paul Sachner of Architectural Record magazine. Any project in the state, or any project anywhere designed by a California architect, was eligible.

The Marsh house in Hermosa Beach by Nota was praised for making maximum use of a very difficult site--a small, triangular parcel squeezed by streets and other structures.

The angled house--composed of concrete and glass block, steel columns and beams--"has a free-wheeling spirit, especially inside," the jury said.

Of the Kanner project in Malibu, the jury indicated it was impressed by the effort to design what amounted to a two-family house for an area where a single-family-house mentality pervades.

"The architecture that was selected--the white, crisp, clean forms with the white pipe railings--seems just right," jurors said.

Other Honor Winners

Other honor award winners were a duplex condominium on a 22-by-58-foot lot fronting an alley on Nob Hill in San Francisco, designed by Hood Miller Associates; the Linda Vista Library, which lends a distinctive architectural focus to the modest San Diego community, by Rob Wellington Quigley, and the Johnson Turnbull Winery in Oakville, a simple addition echoing existing farm structures, by William Turnbull Associates.

Winning two honor awards was the San Francisco office of the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), which specializes in institutional and corporate projects.

One award was for the design of the Pacific Bell Administrative complex, a 2-million-square-foot development on a 100-acre site in San Ramon, 40 miles east of San Francisco; the other was for the City Hall of Columbus, Ind.

Also receiving an honor award was the design of the Grand Floridian Beach resort in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Fla., by the Newport Beach office of Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo.

The design is an engaging Victorian fantasy that hints of the Del Coronado Hotel in San Diego, but is very much oriented to the 21st Century. "This is probably a fun place to be in," the jury concluded.

Firm Won Two Merits

The SOM office also won two of 10 merit awards--one for the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Conference Center in Irvine, another for the slick, 47-story First Interstate Center in downtown San Francisco, which, the jury noted, stylistically bridges the gap between modernism and regionalism.

The Santa Monica-based firm of Moore Ruble Yudell won a merit award for a house on Point Dune. "This appears to be a house that is specifically involved and generated by its site," jurors said. "It understands its peninsula location and makes a very powerful statement."

Other local merit winners were Frank O. Gehry & Associates of Santa Monica for the conversion of a turn-of-the-century loft structure in Boston into a retail and office building, and the firms of Morphosis and Gruen Associates for the Salick Cancer Clinic in West Los Angeles.

The clinic, an outpatient facility that is sited mostly underground, adjoining Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, also won a people award.

"The whole purpose of the project is laudable, namely to make this a less formidable place for human beings who are going through great trauma," the jury said. "This proves that hospitals don't have to be antiseptic and cold."

Housing Authority Project

Another winner of merit and people awards was the rehabilitation by the firm of Marquis Associates of the Rosa Parks Senior apartments, an 11-story housing authority project in San Francisco.

Because of its deteriorated condition, the project had been slated for demolition. In the rehabilitation, apartments were refurbished, corridors reshaped and community facilities added to generate tenant pride and a sense of place.

Other merit award winners were the main post office in Julian, by Keniston & Mosher Partners; an employee housing complex in Sea Ranch, by William Turnbull Associates; offices for the University of California Press in Berkeley, by ELS/Elbasani & Logan, and a retail center in Tucson, by Leason Pomeroy Associates.

Winning the Twenty-Five Year Award, a new category that honors distinguished California architecture of enduring significance, was the St. Francis Square Cooperative Apartments in San Francisco. It was designed by the now-dissolved firm of Marquis & Stoller.

The office of Bull Volkman Stockwell of San Francisco received the 1989 Firm Award, which goes to a California firm "that has produced consistently distinguished architecture for a period of 10 years or more."

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