Awards ball to honor Delaware design and architecture April 18

April 12, 2017

Winston Churchill said, "We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us." If that is true, then the buildings entered into the eighth biennial Design Awards competition will shape Delawareans into very interesting people.

AIA Delaware, a chapter of the American Institute of Architects, will hold its Design Awards Ball Tuesday, April 18, to honor significant achievements of its members in planning, design and execution of architectural projects. Architects from around the state submit images of drawings, sketches, models and buildings to an independent, out-of-state jury composed of architects and business people closely related to the design industry. The jury evaluates projects ranging from small residential renovations to large-scale corporate and government buildings. Their struggle is to identify projects that have that elusive X-factor - something unique that demands attention and broadens people's view of the world.

The competition is fierce, and the evaluation process long and arduous. This year the jury will meet to review more than 30 projects submitted by large and small firms as well as sole practitioners. As they review the materials submitted, the jury discusses and debates the merits of each project. Does it achieve its objective? How does it go beyond what the client asked for? What is unique and insightful about the architectural solution? Why should this building be recognized with an award?

After long hours of debate, the jury bestows awards in three categories: Citations - identifying projects of exceptional merit, Merit Awards - recognizing projects demonstrating a level of design that exemplifies superior accomplishment, and Honor Awards - the highest awards, which acknowledge projects with a distinctive character for an outstanding achievement. Raising the bar is what this design awards competition is all about. One goal of AIA is to identify excellence in the work of its members to serve as examples of what can be achieved when a dedicated team of people - owners, architects, engineers and contractors - set their minds to accomplishing something great.

What Churchill revealed in his statement about architecture was that the quality and character of buildings is crucial to people's self-image and to a country's national identity. Buildings affect mood, productivity and outlook. They can be a source of pride for one's community, company or campus. What architects achieve through their built environment tells others the intimate details of their ambition to advance the culture. The greatness of the work submitted to the design awards competition, whether awarded or not, is that it gives architects an opportunity to remind people of the power of architecture to make great places that help shape the country into a nation of extraordinary people.

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