Don't look now, but the showy castles that dominated housing competitions in the not-so-distant past just aren't turning heads like they used to. Descriptors such as infill, sustainable, affordable, walkable, energy-efficient, casual, site sensitive, and even the “D” word (yep, density) were more apt to get a nod from the judges in this year's Gold Nugget Awards, an annual salute to the best architecture and community planning in 14 Western states and international markets.
For evidence, look no farther than the 2007 Home of the Year, a detached dwelling boasting a most economical footprint in an urban neighborhood that packs nearly nine units to the acre. Or the Master Planned Community of the Year, a 120-acre Hope VI project that transformed a stretch of dilapidated, post–World War II subsidized units into a vibrant, eco-friendly, energy-efficient village providing housing for more than 4,000 mixed-income residents.
Rest assured, there is still a place (and a reverential appreciation) in this PCBC-sponsored competition for big budget architecture, amazing vistas, floor plans for fine living, and impeccable craftsmanship. But changes are afoot in the world of über-luxury. By all accounts, tastes are skewing toward a more casual brand of elegance, contemporary forms with clean lines, and the notion that upscale can happen within the confines of shared walls.