Trends: An AIA Institute Honor Award Recipient Discusses the Design Approach of a Winning Project.
About Rania Alomar, AIA: In 2006 Ms. Alomar founded RA-DA, a full-service design and
architecture practice characterized by an interest in complex programs and a variety of client
The firm’s architectural solutions have garnered it some of the most prestigious awards in the
field and have been published in numerous newspapers and magazines, including the New
York Times, Los Angeles Times, Interior Design Magazine, LA Architects, and others.
What attracted you to the project, and what were its constraints or challenges?
The biggest constraint was the strange shape of the building; however, the client was open to whatever we had to offer.
We went through an in-depth programming phase at the beginning. After analyzing the company, we figured out what we thought were the most important things. The idea of precision, of clarity in the detailing, needed to come through in the space. We also thought it was important to highlight the concept of this company’s virtual presence.
The design embraced two approaches: one, the need for privacy in a high-tech company, and the other, the employees’ desire for an open layout to promote communication. How did you address both of these at the same time?
The way the company works directed the layout, including the acoustics of the space. Some departments are very quiet, some are noisy, and some are constantly on the phone.
We used the structure of the building to pull certain departments apart, but we still wanted to make them feel connected. We provided central meeting spaces that were quiet, private zones and carved out nooks where people could have private conversations.
The sales group, the loudest group, is spread in a linear fashion against one of the window walls; on the other side of sales is accounting, which is the quietest group. So, by grouping the right departments together, there is a balance in the acoustics.
At what point did you consider submitting the project for an Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture?
We had just finished the project. We received an e-mail about the awards program, and we decided to submit it. As we had just completed the photography, it was an easy step. We were happy with the project, the client was happy with the project, and we thought we had nothing to lose.
How do you think receiving the award affects your practice?
This year we’ve reached a point where we are moving on to the next level of practice. We were a local practice for five years, and now we are shifting into a more established practice.
The direct effect of the award is that all of our current clients are saying, “see, we knew this already.” They are proud of us, and they feel they made the right choice by choosing us. This is especially important for us because most of our business is from repeat clients.
What would you say to someone who is considering submitting a project for an AIA award?
I think everyone should just do it. Work your hardest, do your best work, and then put it out there. If you think your project warrants thought in this profession, then you have to put it out there. It’s almost an obligation if you are doing good work.
We really did not expect to win; this is a small project. For any submission, it just takes the right jury and the right time. You have nothing to lose.
The Institute Honor Awards for
Deadline: August 24, 2013
Recipient of a 2013 AIA
Learn more about 2013
Rania Alomar, AIA
RA-DA has a deep