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2005 Golden Trowel Awards Texas Masonry Council’s competition recognizes design and craftsman
By Lawrence Connolly, AIA
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Golden Trowel Awards and one honorable mention. A rchitect HOK of Houston and masonry contractor Lucia’s Christus St. Elizabeth Chapel in Beaumont won a Golden Trowel Award in the stone category for its deceptively simple but sophisticated use of the material. This new three-story outpatient center that includes a chapel is joined to a five-story medical professional building. The appeal to the judges of the charming worship space was its thick stone walls and its irregularly sized colored glass window reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s iconic Ronchamp Chapel. The windows, although placed in an irregular pattern, are sized to correspond to the exact coursing of the cut limestone. The 500 Throckmorton Tower in Fort Worth by Corgan Associates of Dallas and C&D Commercial Masonry was an Honorable Mention in the stone category and a sentimental favorite of the judges because it ironically involved a recently impaired landmark that had become an embarrassing eyesore in a city distinguished by its international architectural status. The tower represented an opportunity for the old Bank One Building to re-invent itself after losing 60 percent of its exterior glazing from a tornado in 2000. Lying empty after years of neglect and slated for demolition, a developer converted, with the help of city and private financing, the former downtown office building into a 316-unit townhouse tower above an office and retail base. The judges praised the makeover project’s exquisite use of polychromatic polished and matte finish stone and marble in the lobby as well as the five-story exterior base’s refined detailing of its contrasting shades and textures of limestone. Aker-Zvonkovic photography
The Texas Masonry Council’s Golden Trowel Awards is one of the three awards programs for Texas architects, the other two being TSA and the Texas Association of School Administrators/ Texas Association of School Boards. While the TMC’s is based exclusively on projects with predominately masonry materials, TASA/TASB’s is based on the school building type and TSA, being the most inclusive, accepts entries of all kinds of materials and all building types. Each of the three awards’ programs was conceived to celebrate their respective membership’s laudatory design and to inspire them to improve their quality of design. According to the TMC, “the Golden Trowel Awards recognize architects who demonstrate excellence in design, as only excellent design gives skilled masons the challenge to excel in their field as well.” In addition to the architect, the Golden Trowel Awards also honors the project’s masonry contractor and masonry materials’ suppliers and by doing so, acknowledging the essential need for the three team members to carefully coordinate their respective roles in each project. Among the members of the 2005 jury were three Austin architects—Stan Haas, FAIA, of TeamHaas; Mike Tibbetts, AIA, of Charles Travis Architects; and me. Completing the panel were James Traylor of Quality Brickworks in Houston and Tim Reily of Reily Masonry in Waco. There are six categories in the Golden Trowel Awards—brick, stone, CMU, publicly funded K-12, residential, and hardscape, landscape and restoration. The category winner from each of the TMC’s four participating chapters (Central Texas, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio) is eligible for a state-level Golden Trowel Award. Twenty-four projects were nominated in 2005, with one project awarded in each category and one receiving an honorable mention in each category. While there was not a repeat winner among the architectural firms, masonry contractor Dee Brown of Dallas dominated the awards program by receiving three
Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont by HOK was honored for its deceptively simple but sophisticated use of stone.
The new Management Building at the University of Texas at Dallas by Omniplan of Dallas and masonry contractor Dee Brown won a Golden Trowel Award in the CMU category. The architects used a cost-saving strategy that allowed the building program to be increased by 25 percent. The UTD building features a cylindrical atrium and a dining area with an unexpected circular skylight to illuminate the land-locked space. Haas described the project “as an example of clean, crisp modernism that has become the architectural firm’s signature.”
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