A DESIGN COMPETITION SUCH AS BUILDER'S Choice is best seen as a snapshot of the building industry, a moment in time when clear themes emerge and trends bubble up to the surface. With this year's Builder's Choice awards there are no doubts: Affordable rules!
Time and time again, as the judges sifted through the merits of hundreds of great designs, affordable projects beat out market-rate entries for inventive architecture and site-sensitive design, especially in urban areas. A dozen affordable projects were winners in this 24th annual Builder's Choice competition. Even the Project of the Year, a seniors community center and apartment complex in San Jose, Calif., proudly touted its affordable status.
“It's time to throw out all that Tuscan farmhouse stuff,” is how one judge summed up the general feeling. What made the most sense—and the most news—were projects that took into account a variety of factors: social concerns, density requirements, and urban realities such as crime.
But there are lessons to be learned that go beyond strictly urban concerns. The best projects, whether they're in gritty West Oakland, Calif., or picture-perfect Harbor Springs, Mich., all have something in common: great design, great construction, and, above all, a great sense of community.
Project of the Year and Grand: Northside Community Center + Mabuhay Court, San Jose, Calif.
Grand and Merit: Markethouse Lofts, San Jose, Calif.
Grand: Rollins Square, Boston
Grand and Merit: Kokoro Assisted Living Center, San Francisco
Grand: Rivera Barn, Napa, Calif.
Grand: Alexan Lofts, Houston
Grand: The Titan, San Diego
Merit: Goodson House, Raleigh, N.C.
Merit: Private Residence, Atlanta
Merit: Ross Woods, Belmont, Calif.
Merit: Summit Roosevelt, Washington
Merit: The Metro, Denver
Special Focus: Private Residence, Summerland, Calif.
Special Focus: Berkshires Guest Cottage, Richmond, Mass.
Special Focus: Private Residence, Connecticut Shore
Special Focus: Dennis Residence, Columbus, Ohio
Special Focus: Lenzen Square Apartments, San Jose, Calif.
Special Focus: Connecticut Studio, Western Connecticut