American Institute of Architects Honors Ford and Abbasy-Asbagh with Awards of Excellence

Ed Ford, Vincent and Eleanor Shea Professor in the University of Virginia School of Architecture, and Ghazal Abbasy-Asbagh, lecturer in architecture, have won awards from the Washington, D.C. Chapter of American Institute of Architects UNBUILT Architecture Program.

An annual competition conducted by the institute since 2009, the UNBUILT Awards program recognizes excellence in both theoretical projects and unbuilt commissioned projects.

The program is open to registered architects, landscape architects, planners, interior designers, associate architects and students in the Washington metropolitan area.

Ford won an award of excellence for “Park and Recreation Structures Revised” and an award of merit for “Trinity + One.”

“Park and Recreation Structures Revised” proposes to recapture the essence of the national, state and local parks in contemporary architecture.

The project, as Ford states in his description, “grows out of the conditions in which contemporary park structures are situated – the need for sustainability, the changing nature of the material resources and our increased sensitivity toward cultural landscapes.”

“In the design studios I’ve taught over the last two years, we dealt with some of the issues facing the National Parks,” Ford said. “While it’s important to keep your own design work autonomous in relation to the design work the students are doing, it’s also important that one informs the other.”

Abbasy-Asbagh also won an award of excellence for her project “Refolding Muqarnas: A Case Study.”

“What I appreciate most about this award is that it acknowledges the significance of an unbuilt project – be it an unbuilt commissioned work, or a purely theoretical project – as an intellectual platform for future projects,” she said.

“My project is a case study of an old type of ornamental construct, which I have adapted structurally, materially and programmatically. The project has generated a research interest for me that considers the role of ornament as a cultural landscape that crosses geographic and temporal boundaries.”

The title of Ford’s “Trinity + One” project refers to the tiny three-story row houses that developed in the working-class areas of Philadelphia through the 19th century. These became known as “Father, Son and Holy Ghost houses,” which was shortened to their current name “Trinity.”

Ford’s winning proposal is for a series of similar tower houses that are, as he describes, “less permanent in their impact on the land than their predecessors” and “more transient in time and space.”

“Concepts: The 2013 Washington UNBUILT Awards,” the exhibition showcasing all the award winners, runs through July 13 at the SIGAL Gallery of the District Architecture Center in Washington. An event celebrating this year’s award winners will take place at the gallery on June 5 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. 

The SIGAL Gallery is one of three main venues in D.C. dedicated to the celebration of architecture and the built environment.

“This year’s award winners, which include individuals and architecture firms alike, display a wide range of talent and innovation,” said Mary Fitch, executive director of D.C.’s American Institute of Architects chapter. “The exhibition showcases a full spectrum of exceptional talent, and should appeal to architecture enthusiasts across the board.”

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