2021 Small Project Awards
Recognizing the best in small project design
Small Project Design, an AIA Knowledge Community, presents the 2021 Small Project Awards, to recognize small project practitioners for the high quality of their work and to promote excellence in small project design.
These eleven projects represent the value and design excellence that architects bring to projects regardless of size and scope:
Casa de Baño (Bathhouse)
This 700-square-foot bathhouse in the mountains west of Mexico City accompanies a detached residence and studio that form an off-the-grid retreat in a 450-acre nature preserve. Emerging from the heavily forested site, the bathhouse and its integrated rainwater harvesting system demonstrate the retreat’s commitment to regenerative design in a place where water has become an increasingly scarce commodity.
Ringed by exclusive, high-end restaurants and an affluent coastal town, Celebration Park in Naples, Florida, stands as a new building type bolstering a neighborhood that has suffered from economic blight. Taking its cues from traditional outdoor markets, Celebration Park is a food truck park that features permanent services, including a bar and shade structure. Both new and familiar, food trucks are arranged much like vendors' tents, beckoning diners to engage with the open-air structure on the water's edge.
Community First! Village Micro House #710
This micro house joins 129 similar homes in Community First! Village, a 27-acre community near Austin developed to provide permanent housing and support for Central Texas’ chronically homeless. The house was designed for phase one of the community and was born from a design competition hosted by AIA Austin seeking to create a home that takes advantage of the site, harnesses passive heating and cooling, and is built from energy-efficient and cost-effective materials.
Fraesfield Trailhead at the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve
At 30,500 acres, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona, is the country's largest urban land preserve. Drawing nearly one million visitors annually, the preserve's trailheads help protect the preserve while amplifying its advocacy efforts and minimizing the impact on the sensitive desert ecosystem. The new Fraesfeild Trailhead sits atop a subtle and vegetated plateau, offering some of the most sweeping views of the preserve and nearby Tonto National Forest.
Gillson Park Beach House
Gillson Park in Wilmette, Illinois, occupies 60 acres of prime land along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, providing the community access to park and beach amenities on a single site. This project replaces an aging and failing beach house, and the new meandering form operates as a mediator between the park’s two unique landscapes. The new transparent building was informed by a transparent process, which inited beachgoers to engage with a thoughtfully crafted community engagement plan.
Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center
The nucleus for Black student life on the University of Oregon’s campus in Eugene, the Lylle Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural center houses organizations and initiatives that directly benefit Black students. It welcomes all campus and community members to participate in cultural events while learning more about the history of student activism and labor that led to its creation.
Located in a field of blossoming peach trees in rural China, Peach Hut is the first in a series of small pavilions designed to facilitate arts and culture education. A piece of sculptural architecture inspired by the site’s trees, which all lean to one side, Peach Hut was envisioned as a series of arcs forming a unique shape that stretches to meet the sky.
Running counter to immodest new homes and significant additions to existing dwellings that have altered many of central Austin’s neighborhoods, the single-story Pemberton Residence revels in its dynamic interior world. Nestled between the gables of its neighboring houses, the residence, built for empty nesters more interested in trading unoccupied bedrooms for proximity to Austin’s bustling nightlife, draws inspiration from Joseph Eichler’s noted Northern California homes. Much less expensive to build than the typical construction surrounding it, the home is an enigmatic presence containing a delightful interior just waiting to be discovered.
Portage Bay Float Home
While the Seattle area has enjoyed a long history of floating homes and houseboats, a type of living romanticized in movies and television, the reality of building on the water is much less glamorous. For this 650-square-foot home on the north end of the city's Lake Union, the owners embraced the challenge as it meshed with their aquatic hobbies of sailing, boat building, and scuba diving.
Rising on Washington’s National Mall in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Society’s Cage is a timely and essential interpretive public installation that urges society to reckon with the perils of institutional racism and white supremacy. The initial build, a grassroots initiative guided by a team led by Black designers, coincided with the 2020 March on Washington and was installed from August 28 to September 12, 2020.
To match the values of its practice, which place regenerative bioclimatic design and social equity at the forefront, this architecture studio replaces an undistinguished and inefficient dentist office in Phoenix. For the project, the team held itself to the same standards as its clients, reusing existing materials and shaping an office that is net-zero energy and water while encouraging walking and cycling, a significant challenge in the car-dominated desert city.