AIA Orange County Honors Exceptional Higher Education Design

The annual architectural design awards by the American Institute of Architects Orange County (AIAOC) is an evening we look forward to every year. The jury is tough and it’s interesting to see which projects catch their eye, and which projects ultimately receive an award. We never know, and that’s part of the fun.

Orange Coast College ArchitectureThis year, the architects, engineers, interior designers, planners, and landscape architects from LPA took home two of the five Merit Awards. The first, for the architectural design of Orange Coast College’s Interdisciplinary Classroom Building (ICB) and the second, for integrated sustainable design executed for California State University Northridge (CSUN), for their Student Recreation Center.

“These awards are a perfect example of what we put into practice every day, and that is the notion that there is a synergy between sustainability and design excellence,” comments LPA President Dan Heinfeld. “A focus on sustainability is really a focus on better design, where instead of chasing fashion the design process values problem solving. By solving the problems that are important to our clients (i.e. reduced energy use material reductions, efficiency, better indoor air quality and other sustainable issues), our design solutions become balanced, smart and most importantly beautiful.”

And why were these projects worthy of recognition? According to LPA Project Engineer John Wilson, they demonstrate the incredible design that can be achieved when architects and engineers work closely together. This technique allowed design teams to produce buildings that are not only impressive architecturally, but structurally as well.

Sustainable Design at CSU Northridge”The biggest difference between CSUN and other projects, was the level of coordination that was required. All disciplines had to work closely at every step of the design process in order to achieve a system that worked within the complexity of the structural system,” explains Wilson. “Inverted tripods and 100-foot-span trusses made for a structure unlike any seen before. Fishing plumbing, electrical and mechanical through the network of trusses, sloping columns and beams while maintaining the architectural vision of the building made for a unique challenge every step of the way.”

Upon receiving the award for CSUN, architect Franco Brown dedicated the win to structural engineer Kenny Lee, who recently passed. This made a very special evening, an even more memorable experience. For, Lee’s spirit lives on through the incredible building he helped design. “He never said no to us,” remembers architect Chad Edgley. “Despite any challenge, he always found a way to get a solution. And they were brilliant solutions at that.”

For more about the AIAOC, check out Lisa Liddane’s recent interview of chapter president Michael Patrick Porter in COAST Magazine.

For more about the ICB at Orange Coast College, visit this week’s OCC Building Design News Bite.

And for more about the recent commencement of construction of the CSUN Student Recreation Center, visit New $53 Million Student Recreation Center Now Under Construction.