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b y M i c h a e l M a l o n e , AIA
Architects rarely have the opportunity to view the best work of their peers from around the state, so the TSA Design Awards’ jury review offers a unique vantage point. The event is much like a window from which to see the diversity of scope, scale, and issues our fellow professionals are working with. Sitting in while the jury meets is exciting. It also can be a humbling experience and, at moments, distressing when projects you believe have merit are summarily rejected. This year’s jury was markedly different from previous juries. More often than not, a strong leader develops among the three jurors and that individual begins to drive the process, bringing his or her own prejudices to bear on the others. Not this year. While differing greatly in their design approaches and concerns, this jury was notable for their interest in agreeing on which projects should be awarded. With everyone so polite and set on consensus, some of us observing the review kept hoping for some wrestling, but it did not happen. There is a definable regionalism to our collective work, and the jurors noted that fact on several occasions. They all commented on what appeared to them to be particular concerns in the work of Texas architects. For example, they remarked on the frank expression of rain gutters and downspouts and how roof water was channeled, stored, and handled. Also, the seemingly ubiquitous “Texas limestone” in all its various guises caught their attention. After seeing many projects designed with these elements the jurors tended to focus on those projects that freshly reasserted or interpreted the use of these elements clearly as a part of the program response, rather than as an aesthetic vocabulary. Jurors also were drawn to projects with an easily recognized organization. Gestures to energy conservation and green building were discussed, but dismissed if the solutions did not result in a harmonious and appealing composition for the buildings. They liked elegant solutions and were clear about it when selecting winners. The writer is director of The Michael Malone Studio at WKMC Architects and a member of the TSA Design Awards Committee.
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Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...