Local architecture gets a nod at design awards
By Chris O'Neal 12/19/2013
PHOTO CREDIT Michael Cabezas
Several native local architects were given high honors at this year’s Design Awards Program hosted by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Once every two years, the Ventura County chapter of the AIA votes on submitted designs and gives awards based on several categories, including residential, nonresidential and unbuilt work.
This year’s winners in the nonresidential category include a merit award for Moorpark College’s exotic animal training and management facility designed by Ehrlich Architects and a merit award for the Oxnard College Library by Paul Murdoch Architects, while Honor awards went to the City of Oxnard’s Advanced Water Purification Facility, designed by Mainstreet Architects, and the Santa Monica beach restrooms, by RNT Architects.
Dave Intner, AIA Ventura County chapter president, says that for a design to be considered, it must go beyond aesthetics.
“It’s not just a beauty contest,” said Intner. “It’s all about how well — and architecture at its core is problem solving — all the design criteria meet the function and if there are innovative solutions or strategies that set a precedent for other designers to look to.”
In the “unbuilt” category, the Ventura Botanical Gardens by Mainstreet Architects took high honors for its inclusivity of the surrounding landscape; and a master plan to cap the 101 freeway called The Beach + Town project by RNT Architects, which would connect downtown to the beach, also was highly regarded.
“It’s an amazing integration of the existing trail,” said Intner of the botanical gardens, “and how they derived the building form from the way that trail meandered into the entry canyon area, and the building grew up from how that trail extends to where the building is literally part of the landscape.”
Commenting on The Beach + Town project, juror Betsey Dougherty said that she enjoyed the imagining of returning Ventura back to its original state — as a beachfront community.
“This out-of-the-box thinking is a method to re-establish the beauty of this oceanfront city, and will have a significant impact on its socioeconomic future,” said Dougherty. “This master plan proposal is an example of the power and influence that good design can have on the future of our cities.”