On December 7, 2023, AIA Waco held its Design Awards Celebration at Art Center Waco. Jurors Steven T. Ellinger, FAIA; Eva Read-Warden, AIA; and Wendy Dunnam Tita, FAIA, honored four projects designed by local architects for their achievements in architectural design.

Honor Award for Highest Level of Achievement in Architectural Design
Cottonland Castle, Waco
David Nisbet, AIA | Nisbet Architecture

“The ‘Castle’ was started by stone contractor John Tennant in 1890 and sold in 1906 to Ripley Hanrick but remained unfinished until 1913 when businessman Alfred Abeel along with plans by architect Roy Lane finally completed the residence. The design was inspired after a small German castle along the Rhine River and utilizes load-bearing battered limestone walls along with sandstone detailing. The exterior of the house was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1977.

The scope of the project was to clean, repair and restore the exterior to maintain the original character. The only additon was a small conservatory towards the rear of the property.

Great care was taken to keep the original crafted detailing intact while reorganizing interior spaces to meet modern needs. The detailing of wood flooring patterns, wood paneling, wood windows and plaster ceiling mouldings where all maintained or replicated to match the original where missing or destroyed from previous ownership. The kitchen was relocated from the servant’s basement area to the main living level and new amenities such as air-conditioning, electrical and plumbing systems were carefully designed to be concealed with minimal impact to the existing architecture.”

Honor Award for Highest Level of Achievement in Architectural Design
The Dental Gallery, Waco
Kristin Rose, AIA | RBDR Architects

“With a large, visibly exposed corner site, the owner wanted the design of the building itself to be the most impactful billboard for his business. He conceived of the project as ‘gallery.’ Here, the design team saw an opportunity to not only place the building on display, but also, to use strategic window placements, coupled with a ‘forest’ of columns, to create exterior subject-matter as well.

The architect developed a geometrically abstract roofline and similarly abstract column arrangement in an effort to produce a building that approaches a landscape-like aspect. While still appearing somewhat random, all elements are still subject to sets of rules that seek to maintain visual clarity and, ultimately, buildability within a very tight budget.

The architect has taken this biophilic approach and applied it both on the interior and the exterior of the building, where multiple building elements, including signage, hardware, flooring patterns, lighting, wall, and ceiling finishes are all intentionally designed as part of a cohesive space.

A dentist’s surgical office is rarely thought of as a calming place. The architecture of the Dental Gallery came from the owner and architect’s uncompromising desire to create a peaceful, yet evocative environment.”

Merit Award for Distinguished Achievement in Architectural Design
Farmers & Merchants Bank, Lakewood, CA
Desiree Gallagher, AIA | NoBo Architecture; Bernard Ines, AIA | WHA Architects

“This project was a tenant improvement for a local bank. The building was purchased by the client Farmers & Merchant Bank in Lakewood, CA for a new Lakewood Branch. This was a signature bank branch for them because it would eventually serve as their office headquarters building. The building elevator lobby was also one of the entrances to the bank branch. This bank serviced a lot of the local small business, and their branches exude excellence, elegance, and stability regardless of financial climate.

The materials selected aligned with other bank branches, marble floors, stone cladding and warm wood tones. The unique feature is the floating undulating wood ceiling. It serves as a visual representation of the up and downs of the financial markets and as a way finding architectural feature to guide patrons through the space. Specialty lighting provides additional warmth and interest. The upscale selected materials provide an upgraded banking experience and serve as a reminder of a stable, strong banking choice.”

Merit Award for Distinguished Achievement in Architectural Design
Bridge Street Plaza, Waco
Michael Papernov, AIA | RBDR Architects

“As of a few years ago, Bridge Street no longer existed as a physical construct. First devastated by fire in 1871 and then rebuilt, leveled by the Great Tornado in 1953 and still partially reclaimed; Bridge Street was ultimately erased as part of the City’s urban renewal project in 1968. For decades it had existed as an empty green space with a poorly paved access drive backing up to a feed and seed store. Yet, Bridge Street has an important role in the history of Waco, and its diverse minority communities; as a gathering place where freed slaves, and immigrants of all kinds, were able to pursue their livelihoods and build community.

In recent years, East Waco has faced economic struggles and many failed development proposals, but has since experienced a new groundswell of development interest. With the purchase and development of each set of adjacent lots, one for a multifamily development and the other for a pair of hotels, the City recognized an opportunity to revive Bridge Street. Working with seventy feet of right of way terminating in an empty field bisected by a broad electrical easement, the re-birth of bridge street began to take shape.”

Congratulations to all the winners!

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