2023 Small Project Awards
Recognizing the best in small project design
AIA and it's Small Project Design (SPD) Knowledge Community present the annual Small Project Awards to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects provide regardless of the limits of size and scope.
These projects represent the big impact that small projects can have on their users and broader communities.
Costa Rica Treehouse
Built for environmentalist clients who surf, this carbon-positive house is inspired by the jungle that surrounds it on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. The home is made entirely of locally harvested teak, and it engages with the jungle on each of its three levels. It was envisioned as an open-air surfer’s hut that allows ocean breezes and ample daylight to permeate its spaces.
Henry Island Guesthouse
On a secluded site in Washington’s San Juan Islands, the Henry Island Guesthouse is a new addition to a main residence the team previously designed. The sensitively scaled dwelling reflects the vocabulary of the main home while also forging its own identity and allows a new set of owners to welcome family and friends for extended periods.
This sleek intervention in Miami’s recently revitalized design district has transformed an alleyway into an iconic public place. It was born from a local AIA-funded research grant that allowed the design team to publish a book on alleyway research, which the district’s developers discovered online. With its ancient ruins-like series of parabolic concrete arches, Jade Alley has evolved from a leftover urban space beset by dumpsters into an intriguing destination for the community.
Liberation Coffee House
From its prominent urban corner in Hollywood, Liberation Coffee House is the public face of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s new Anita May Rosenstein Campus. Much more than a coffee house, it is a profitable social enterprise that diverts 100% of its revenue into the center’s life-saving programs. It is also run by graduates of the center’s culinary arts program, which helps prepare LGBTQ+ youth and seniors for employment opportunities.
Kingsbury Commons at Pease Park
The 84-acre Pease Park, recognized as Austin’s first park, serves as a green retreat for residents as well as a buffer between downtown and the sprawling neighborhoods along the banks of Shoal Creek. This project is a critical component of the city’s plan for revitalizing the park’s southernmost tip and has transformed an underused historic building into a thriving event space that reinforces the park’s role in gathering people and connecting them to place.
Mini Mart City Park
Mini Mart City Park, a community-focused cultural center and park in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, has radically transformed a derelict gas station into a vibrant hub for creativity and the arts. The project is a collaboration between the design team and artist group SuttonBeresCuller, which purchased the brownfield site, that explores the potential of architecture and art to mend an urban concern. With more than 700 similar gas stations in the region and more than 200,000 across the country, Mini Mart City Park is a model for remediation that results in compelling and much-needed community spaces.
Pima Dynamite Trailhead
Straddling the line between Scottsdale, Arizona, and the desert, the Pima Dynamite Trailhead is a new public gateway into the expansive McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Responding to the unique conditions presented by its site, the project serves as a responsible interface for hikers, bikers, and equestrians as they prepare to explore the sprawling and biologically diverse Sonoran Desert.
In Austin, a couple’s quest for a flexible studio space to accommodate a blend of work, hobbies, and guests has resulted in The Perch, a freestanding 660-square-foot structure that hovers along the existing bungalow roofline and just below the city’s setback tent. With its striking exterior form, the project is a surprising and delightful addition to the community.
West Campus Residence
After leaving a cherished modernist residence they called home for more than a decade, the architects and owners of this project purchased a student rental that sat on an unusual 80-foot-wide lot. The design for the home, which accommodates a growing family that includes a set of twins, is guided by a desire for a compact and efficient space that is tuned to its natural surroundings.