AS USUAL, THERE WAS NO SHORTAGE OF spectacular designs at the 41st annual Gold Nugget Awards competition, which honors the best of Western architecture. In category after category, from production housing to specialty housing to special-use projects, the talent level soared. Not surprisingly, there were endless Tuscan-inspired production homes with lavish levels of detail and countless early-California looks with the requisite courtyards, corbels, and other Spanish touches.

But what really got the judges' juices flowing weren't the picture-perfect designs on picture-perfect plots. It was the plans that solved a problem, whether that predicament was a compact lot, a neighborhood with strict design guidelines, or an infill site with modern-day issues. And they took special interest in the categories that included mixed-use projects and, new this year to the Gold Nuggets, those entries that qualified for the Master Planned Project of the Year.

The winners were chosen in April by a panel of nine judges that included builders, architects, developers, and one BUILDER editor, that gathered in Anaheim, Calif., for three days of judging. They divided into three groups and looked at more than 640 entries in 48 categories before reconvening to vote for the winners.

Gold Nuggets Winners
Bi-Coastal Beauty Shutters, Brea, Calif.
Napa Retreat Rivera Barn, Napa, Calif.
Opportunities and Constraints Pacific Shores, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Landmark Status East End Lofts, Sacramento, Calif.
Oceanfront Splendor Oceana -- Plan 2, Newport Beach, Calif.
Layers of Success Beacon Point at Liberty Station -- Point Loma Plan 1, San Diego
Dignified Design Mabuhay Court/North-Side Community Center, San Jose, Calif.
Residential Grand Award Winners