AIA Announces Architecture Honor Awards for 2018

The highly innovative Spring Street Salt Shed, in Manhattan, by Dattner Architects in association with WXY architecture + urban design, was also honored. This New York City industrial facility was transformed into urban art; “a visual oxymoron to sanitation” said the judges who applauded the project for raising the bar on civic infrastructure design.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced its Honor Award winners for 2018, which include projects from around the world designed by architectural firms both large and small. From a girls’ school in Afghanistan to a municipal salt shed, this year’s widely diverse group of winning projects will be honored at the AIA Conference on Architecture in New York City in June of this year. The Honor Awards, now in their 69th year, were selected by a jury consisting of architects and academics who judged projects based on “outstanding excellence and innovation”.

The Audain Art Museum in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada by Patkau Architects was one of the 17 award winners. An eco-friendly design, the elegant architectural structure hovers above a floodplain topography where there is heavy snowfall, thus embracing the elements and the setting. According to the judges, the project “wraps users around nature, blurring the boundaries between man-made and natural”

Another award-winning museum was The Broad in Los Angeles, designed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler.  The contemporary art museum is home to more than 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, one of the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide. The 120,000-square-foot building features two floors of gallery space.

The Chicago Riverwalk, by Ross Barney Architects & Sasaki Associates, also took top honors. A once neglected downtown riverfront area, it is now a reinvented urban space with a wide range of amenities that reflect the city’s layered and diverse history.

Another award-winner was the Gohar Khatoon Girls’ School, in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, designed by Robert Hull, FAIA, and the University of Washington, Department of Architecture. A modern take on masonry construction, the school’s beautiful yet restrained aesthetic creates an urban oasis and promotes community engagement as well as reflecting a new era for girls and women in the country.

Other architectural design winners were: the Mercer Island Fire Station 92, in Washington by Miller Hull; the new United States Courthouse by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Los Angeles; the Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L. Anderson Design Center, a state-of-the-art architecture, landscape architecture and interior design school, by in Fayetteville, Arkansas, designed by Marlon Blackwell Architects; and the Washington Fruit & Produce Company Headquarters, in Yakima, Washington, by Graham Baba Architects.


Construction Trends for 2018

More offsite construction and increased use of modular components are two trends anticipated in 2018.

After a robust 2017, commercial construction companies are anticipating an even stronger 2018. Trends for this year, include a continuing rise in offsite construction as well as increasing reliance on technology. Another emerging phenomenon is the increased focus on resilient design following the most destructive hurricane season on record and devastating fires and mudslides in California.

Other trends that will likely shape construction this year revolve around federal and state policies, the ongoing labor shortage and anticipated mega projects such as Amazon’s much-ballyhooed HQ2. Construction Dive identified what the editors see as the top eight trends for the coming year, and here they are:

Resilient Design

The focus on strengthening structures is driven by the disastrous weather events of the past year. Hurricanes, heat waves, cold waves, flooding, tornadoes and wildfires took their toll, with a nationwide financial hit estimated at $400 billion.

Rather than constructing duplicate replacement structures, more property owners will likely demand resilient site and structure features, heeding the advice and support of organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council. New projects are likely to mimic resilient construction that is already underway, such as re-evaluating building codes and redefining flood zones in Florida and Texas and fire-resistant construction in California.

Labor Shortages

The construction industry will continue to grapple with a tight supply of skilled craft workers as younger individuals shun construction as a career option, baby boomers retire and the federal government reverses the tide of immigrant labor from Mexico, Central America and the Carribbean. With industry groups continuing to lobby lawmakers for funding for trade education programs to help create a construction industry labor pipeline, these efforts could pay off and help ease the problem.

Meanwhile, the industry is turning to alternative construction methods to compensate for the shortage of skilled labor. Offsite construction and prefabrication, for example, are helping mitigate some labor issues, often reducing labor demands by as much as 50%.  Increased use of modular construction in 2018, could also reduce the need for additional workers.

Offsite Construction

A growing number of U.S. contractors are partnering with prefab companies to incorporate offsite construction into their operations. Suppliers, too, are building up offsite capacity and developing products to help streamline operations. With companies like Google, Autodesk, Marriott and Starbucks embracing offsite construction, so are investors who hope offsite will improve construction industry productivity and returns.

As offsite components increase project speed, they are leading to greater collaboration between general contractors and offsite fabricators. With large companies like Turner Construction and Gilbane adding project manager roles for offsite, this delivery method is projected to gain momentum.

Transportation Investments

Cities are making big investments in transportation, integrating it into other public infrastructure upgrades. Nashville, TN, for example, proposes to spend $5.2 billion on an infrastructure and transit plan. Minneapolis’s $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail and Boston’s $2.2 billion overhaul of the area’s Green Line light rail are two other notable investments in transportation systems. In addition to traditional rail and bus systems and tunnels, high-speed maglev trains and hyperloop systems are also trending.

Technology and Automation Advances

Automation and related technologies such as 3-D printing are changing construction practices dramatically. Consider Europe’s first 3-D printed building in Denmark, a 3-D printed concrete bridge in the Netherlands, and the 3-D print concrete turbine towers planned in California.

According to Construction Dive, construction technology was the “Trend of the Year” in 2017. It’s not going away; in fact it looks to be ramping with factory-based construction automation and standardizing design and construction, creating a continuum of services.

New Policy Regulations

New policies at the federal and state level will continue to shape the industry. New York City now requires construction workers to undergo at least 40 hours of safety training. Los Angeles instituted a new seismic retrofit ordinance that will impact an estimated 1,200 older concrete buildings. As always, policies and politics will impact the construction business.

Large Companies with Large Construction Projects

While last year saw the addition of new, high-tech campus facilities at Google and Apple, a second new North American Amazon headquarters complex will likely fuel increased momentum for similar expansions in 2018.

Microsoft is slated to begin a multi-billion-dollar redevelopment of its existing Redmond, WA, campus later this year; Marriott and General Electric are also expected to break ground on new headquarters developments.

As more firms continue to expand their facilities, many are also likely to add infrastructure needed to support their operations. Data center construction is an especially fast-growing sector, as companies amass unprecedented amounts of information. By the first half of 2017, data center investments had already doubled those made in 2016, coming in at $18.2 billion.

Augmented & Virtual Reality — Wearables and Drones

With mixed-reality headsets, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, and wearable devices, such as Triax’s  Internet of Things-enabled sensors, high-tech wearables and both augmented and virtual reality will continue to make inroads, transforming job sites. Two of the greatest benefits these technologies offer are safety and efficiency — areas where the construction industry has struggled in the past.

Beyond the innovations and investment in con-tech, it’s also possible that technology will help attract younger workers who are captivated by the technology in-roads impacting construction, such as the increasing use of drones on survey sites. One thing is certain: the industry buzz can’t hurt.


The Most Anticipated Building Projects of 2018

The Leeza SOHO by Zaha Hadid in Beijing is one of the most anticipated architectural projects scheduled for completion this year. Photo: Zaha Hadid Architects

Scanning the globe for signature architectural feats that will be completed in 2018, CNN reported that the new year promises just as much “eye-catching” architecture as last year.  Some of the most anticipated projects include a multi-colored Lego House in Denmark, a South African art museum inside a former grain silo, a glass courthouse in Paris, a pencil-thin skyscraper in New York, Beijing’s China Zun Tower and the soaring Lakhta Center in St. Petersburg. Some of the biggest names in architectural design are also involved, including Thomas Heatherwick and Kengo Kuma.

While the Lakhta Center is on course to become Europe’s tallest new building, Asia is again expected to drive global skyscraper construction with buildings such as Beijing’s 1,732-foot China Zun Tower that will be the year’s tallest building if it finishes on schedule.

In 2017, China built more than half of all the skyscrapers measuring 200 meters (656 feet) or taller, a trend that looks likely to continue this year, according to the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). Notable among the country’s planned high-rises is the late Zaha Hadid’s Leeza SOHO, a twisting glass tower — also in Beijing — that Hadid’s firm claims has the world’s tallest atrium.

While glass and steel are still the predominant materials of choice for high-rise construction, timber construction has gained a foothold according to the CTBUH’s Skyscraper Center database. Framework is an 85-foot-tall, wood-framed residential structure in Portland, Oregon; this timber tower designed by Lever Architecture, will be the tallest “wooden” high-rise in the U.S. when it is completed this year.

Emerging Trends

In architecture, height isn’t everything — and many of this year’s most remarkable projects are far from record-breaking in scale, but will still have a transformative effect on their respective cities’ skylines. The long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza is scheduled to partially open in May, more than 15 years after the competition for its design was announced. In Scotland, the city of Dundee is preparing to unveil architect Kengo Kuma’s first U.K. building, a stone-paneled, secondary outpost of London’s V&A museum.

Elsewhere in the world, Istanbul will unveil its new airport, Helsinki will welcome a new public library with an undulating wooden façade, and in New York, Thomas Heatherwick’s Vessel, a 150-foot-tall sculptural mass of interlocking staircases, will decorate the Manhattan landscape.

Some trends such as the continued drive for low-energy buildings and a growing focus on renovation and preservation will continue in 2018. For more, see this CNN page:


Sto Studio Delivers Color and Design Concepts with Impact

 Third in a three-part series on Sto Studio

Sto Studio has been providing tailor-made color digital models and illustrations of design and material options for facades and interiors for over three decades now.  Working closely with clients, specific architectural and aesthetic concepts are developed based on aproject’s underlying requirements, conditions and objectives. The final result is a series of color renderings to help the client determine the most appealing aesthetic choice. The following are examples of Sto Studio’s art in architecture in a range of residential and commercial projects – including both restoration and new construction.

StoStudio View of a sample color scheme for the Camby Hotel in Phoenix.

Restoration of Doubletree Hotel in Bay City, Michigan

Built in 2004, this 550-room property was slated for a much-needed facelift. Sto Studio provided color and design scenarios based on a sequence of requests made by on-site personnel, the owner group, contractor and our Sto distribution partner. By offering a range of options, the eyes of decision-makers were opened to possibilities they had not previously considered, and they were ultimately able to determine the ideal solution.

Seventy-thousand square feet of StoColor® Lotusan® was ultimately used to ensure optimal performance and lasting beauty. The project managers evaluated several vendors and were impressed with the alternatives presented by Sto Studio, which emphasized the contrasts between various colors. The chosen color scheme was less tone-on-tone, with a more deliberate contrast between surfaces, allowing for enhanced curb appeal and an opportunity to celebrate the building’s form.

The Embassy Suites Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida was another signature Sto Studio project in the hospitality sector. Sto Studio provided a big assist with a substantial shift in the exterior color palette from a predominantly canary yellow shade to one that was more understated and elegant.  This was the fourth Embassy Suites property that Sto Studio consulted on in 2016, and more are expected as the brand continues to refine its identity.

Residential Restoration Upgrades Exterior

A single family, 6000 square foot residence in Portland, Michigan required remediation related to a failing wood-siding exterior.  With local experts available to consult with the owners, a solution was quickly identified: StoQuik® Silver. To support this decision, Sto Studio was contracted to illustrate color options incorporating the existing aesthetics. Two thousand square feet of this new Sto system was installed, ensuring the ongoing comfort of the owners, and improved performance of the exterior wall.

Aesthetic Opportunities with New Construction

Sto Canada has been pushing the (building) envelope with Sto Panel Technology and reached out to Sto Studio to illustrate options for a new development in St. Catherines, Ontario.  The project architect, Sto Panel affiliate [SkyRise], the general contractor and owner all funneled information to Sto Studio where it was distilled and cross-referenced to help generate a series of color and design renderings.  Understanding the aspirations of the development team and translating that into design deliverables proved an invaluable decision-making tool.


Beauty in the Built Environment: Sto Color

Since 1965, when Sto introduced a revolutionary color system, the company has been providing art and inspiration in architecture, working with design and building professionals to facilitate design and color decision-making.

Second in a three-part series on Sto Studio

The study of color by artists, philosophers and scientists has spanned centuries, dating back to 1672 when Sir Isaac Newton defined the components of visible light as color. Segmenting the spectrum into easily identifiable color families, he led others to develop their own versions of the color wheel and established “color theory”, which in today’s parlance means “guidance on mixing colors”.

While Sto Corp. doesn’t date back as far as Newton, it has been a pioneer in color theory, specifically as it relates to architecture. Product and color formulations are based on theories, old and new. In 1965, Sto introduced a revolutionary color system and has been building upon that first offering since then. The StoColor 800 — a collection of 800 colors formulated to match the range of human visual perception — was released in 2002, and remains a favorite resource for the architecture, engineering and construction sectors.

Humans are able to distinguish “primary colors” (e.g. yellow, red, and blue), “secondary colors” (e.g. orange, violet, and green), which are created by mixing two primary colors (yellow + blue= green), and a host of tertiary colors for use in buildings’ interiors and exteriors. It is the human perception of color that is the foundation of the StoColor System.

Sto’s color wheel is made up of 24 parent colors which are combined with white, black and grays to create a range of sophisticated colors applicable to our built environment. Extrapolating specific colors from the master palette, Sto has created subsets for varied markets: The Sto Sto Classic Color Collection,  The Sto Designer Color Collection, Sto for the Southwest, The Architectural Color Collection and so on.

The Power of Color

Color is integral to our world, not just in the natural environment but also in the man-made, architectural environment. It has played a role in human evolution. Colors influence us. They affect our psychology, they communicate, inform and influence judgement. Clearly, color in architectural spaces is more than decoration.

Form, function, design and color coexist within our architectural environment. Just as color plays a huge role in branding, colors define the nature and aesthetic of a building; colors help develop the culture and identity of a city as well. Architecture influences our lives more than we are usually aware and the use of color in architecture makes a built form even more impactful.

Utilizing color in buildings has evolved over the years. Grey, dull and restrained monochromatic facades — especially in older cities — have given way to bolder colors on building exteriors and interiors.  Whites and greys have long been favored by architects and designers, but many feel these colors are too “grave and isolating” and are incorporating more color into their designs. Dark saturated colors are trending right now, as are so-called “celebration colors”. How uninspired is beige on beige on beige, and by contrast how delightful is it to turn a corner and see a sudden burst of color?

Empirical observations and scientific studies have proven that our reactions to architectural environments are highly influenced by our sensory perception of color. Architectural psychology, color psychology, neuropsychology, visual ergonomics, psychosomatics prove that color influences us psychologically and physiologically.

The psychological effects of color are the basis of what’s called visual/color ergonomics: “a multidisciplinary science concerned with understanding human visual processes and the interactions between humans and other elements of a system”. As an example of visual ergonomics: a medical facility would benefit from a different color scheme than an industrial complex or a school.

Color is a sensory perception and, as with any sensory perception, it has effects that are symbolic, associative and emotional. In simpler, more graphic terms: yellow feels sunny, friendly, and inviting; red is provocative, arousing, perhaps aggressive. Green is balanced, calm and simple

A Celebration of Color

As a means to help the market understand the power and potential of color Sto established Sto Studio, offering custom color solutions to clients world-wide. By illustrating the potential aesthetics for a project with full-color renderings, Sto Studio enables design and building professionals to see the future and choose from a variety of design scenarios.

The team of color professionals at Sto Studio who are inspired by color and art in architecture, know the science of color mixology, but also the gestalt and psychology of color. Sto Studio designers are experts on color but also understand its value as part of new coatings and finishes, its sustainability and efficacy in meeting the goals of the design and building community, or in the restoration of protected buildings.

Whether providing industry leading delivery of quality color formulas and samples, or a professional grade rendering, Sto Studio facilitates design and color decision making. The Sto Color System offers a harmonic, finely nuanced selection of colors for facade and interior use and the most advanced, visually ergonomic media presentations for all phases of color design.

Color 101 – a Quick Primer

  • Hue identifies the color family (blue, green, red, etc.)
  • Chroma is the purity or intensity of a color (a high chroma has no added black, white or gray).
  • Value refers to how light or dark a color is (the lighter the color, the higher the value). Dark colors absorb light energy and have a lower LRV (light reflective value). Light colors reflect light and have higher LRVs.
  • LRV – Light Reflective Value: indicates how much light or energy is bouncing off a surface. A color with 87% LRV is reflecting 13% of the light energy broadcast on its surface; a dark brown with 8% LRV absorbs 92% of the light energy.
  • Achromatic: essentially, lacking chroma (grays, neutrals, black and white).
  • Saturation refers to how strong or weak a color is (a highly saturated color would be considered very strong). Regard it as “Pure vs. Pale”.
  • Tones are created by adding gray to a color, making it duller or softer-looking than the original, pure hue. Tones are sometimes easier to use in designs.
  • Shades are created by adding black to a color, making it darker than the original. The word is often incorrectly used to describe tint or tone, but technically shade only applies to hues made darker by the addition of black.
  • Tints are created by adding white to a color, making it lighter than the original. Very light tints are sometimes called pastels, but any pure hue with white added to it is technically a tint, even if the color is still quite bright.

Next week, look for Sto Studio case studies.


Architecture as Art – Sto Studio and the Built Environment

Working with Sto Studio, building owners, design professionals, engineers and contractors can review fully illustrated aesthetic options for a project long before construction begins.

First of a three-part series on Sto Studio

Creating the aesthetic character of a building is no simple task; nor is determining the engineering and science for a structure.  If you can bring these building elements together, the results are remarkable. And if you can see what it’s all going to look like before you break ground or start a restoration — not just one possible solution, but many choices — it’s magic. More importantly, it expedites informed decision-making.

Working with Sto Studio, building owners, design professionals, engineers and contractors can review proposed options, which illustrate the potential aesthetics for a project long before construction begins. Full-color renderings offer clients the opportunity to envision the future – to really understand their structure and its appearance in a variety of design scenarios. Sto Studio is, in essence, a service that facilitates design and color decisions.

Sto Studio has been providing these integrated design services for customers across the Americas, Europe and Asia for over three decades. Innovative claddings and other advanced technologies are essential for both new construction and renovations today (to ensure energy efficiency and sustain the buildings’ value),  but architectural treatments and color can be just as important.  A commercial real estate study revealed that architectural color can increase a property value from 25-40%.

This is the StoStudio rendering for the Christopher House Project in Pompano Beach, Florida.

By collaborating closely with clients, Sto Studio offers a unique, value-added service, providing tailor-made color and material concepts for facades and interiors. Architectural color concepts and solutions evolve based on a project’s underlying conditions, requirements and objectives, resulting in a series of color renderings to help determine the most appealing aesthetic option. From renderings and visualizations, to color presentations and color charts, local marketing assistance, reference tools, and technical advice, Sto Studio is an essential resource for design and building professionals.

The combination of technical expertise and design support often results in a holistic solution for any and all construction challenges. For instance, a bright red may be an ideal branding color for a building, but may not perform well due to it’s saturation level. It could create stress on the wall system and cause surface degradation. Therefore, art and science need to work hand-in-hand to ensure the ultimate realization of a building’s durability and curb appeal.

Next Week – Color 101 – a primer on color theory and an insightful, in-depth look at the StoColor System that is an integral part of Sto Studio’s design expertise.


Top 50 Architectural Firms of 2017 Announced by Architect Magazine

The Stealth Building -- a renovation of a cast-iron building in Tribeca-- by WORKac, the architectural firm ranked #1 in America for Design by Architect Magazine.

Architect Magazine has published their list of the 50 best architecture firms in the United States, and the 2017 top honors went to a combination of established heavyweights as well as young upstarts.

The rankings are based on scores from three categories: business, design and sustainability. This year there were more entrants than ever before (149 firms submitted entries) with several first-time entrants making waves, including New-York based WORKac who ranked #1 in the design category. Topping the overall list was Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), who also ranked in the top 10 for design and sustainability. SOM became the first firm to secure the overall Number One position twice.

ZGF Architects took first place in the sustainability category for the second year in a row with their ecodistrict Kashiwa-no-ha (outside Tokyo), and the Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center cited as industry-leading sustainability projects.

In the business category, the east coast firm FXFowle (New York & Washington D.C.) garnered the top award with special kudos for their Statue of Liberty Museum.

Congratulations to all the firms for their remarkable achievements worldwide.