The eight projects presented below made an impression on this year’s jury. While diverse in their typologies, budgets, and character, these projects exhibit one common attribute: the work is expertly executed. The thoughtful placement and selection of sources for the Detroit Athletic Club’s exterior set a new standard for future fa?ade lighting applications. The lighting solutions for the Hotel Puerta America, the Carlton Hotel lobby, and Morimoto NYC successfully celebrate a rich and diverse material palette. The installation White Noise | White Light dares to think beyond convention as it marries art, technology, light, sound, and site to create a unique interactive experience. FLEXsystems (a self-storage facility) and the Briarcliff residence (a basement renovation) challenge assumptions about the importance of design no matter the project type. Finally, Higgins Hall’s central wing unites architecture and lighting in a manner that cohesively smooths the transition between existing and new. representing a thought process in which an understanding of light is integral to the architectural design concept.

Indeed, the success of each winning project is in the way its lighting scheme integrates within the architectural whole. If the lighting elements were removed, the architecture would be fundamentally incomplete. In celebrating these examples, A|L hopes to reinforce the significant rolº lighting plays in an architectural discourse.

Outstanding Achievement Awards

Detroit Athletic Club
SmithGroup, Detroit
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Photography by Justin Maconochie, Ferndale, MI

Hotel Puerta America
Isometrix Lighting + Design, London
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Photography by Rafael Vargas, Barcelona

Commendable Achievement Awards

White Noise/White Light
MY Studio, Boston
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Photography by J. Meejin Yoon

Derek Porter Studio, Kansas City, Missouri
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Photography by Mike Sinclair, Kansas City, MO

Higgins Hall Central Wing
Arc Light Design, New York
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Photography by David Sundberg/Esto

Carlton Hotel Lobby
Focus Lighting, New York
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Photography by J.R. Krauza/Focus Lighting

Morimoto NYC
Isometrix Lighting + Design, London
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Photography by Gerardo Olvera/Isometrix

Briarcliff Residence
Derek Porter Studio, Kansas City, Missouri
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Photography by Michael Spillers, Kansas City, MO


While it is important to commend outstanding projects, the discussion that leads to those selections also deserves mention, for without this debate, one of the more distinctive aspects of the design process—dialogue—would be missing. Every year, a number of projects, though ultimately dismissed, capture the attention of the jury. They may not receive a citation, but th­se projects provide an important contribution to the discussion and the overall review process.

This year, six projects found themselves at the center of extended debate. The reasons were many, including design and technical qualities within the projects themselves, and broader issues pertaining to the awards process, such as categories and the quality of entry materials, particularly photography. Simultaneously engaging and perplexing, these projects raised as many questions as they answered.

One such submission dividing the group was the Copenhagen Opera House. A few were impressed with the diverse array of lighting solutions in a project of this scale. However, others questioned if all the elements acted cohesively to form a united lighting scheme. The 'Ashes and Snow' exhibit at the Nomadic Museum (Santa Monica, California, installation) also split the jury. While some thought it was successful precisely because of its integration with the architecture, other members debated whether work that was so reliant on another part of the design could actually be evaluated on its own.

In a first, there were no winning projects submitted in the Architectural Lighting Virtuous Achievement (ALVA) categories (Best Lighting Design on a Budget, Best Use of Color, and Best Incorporation of Daylighting). The jury found several entries that illustrated aspects of the ALVA honors, but without the proper supporting materials (submissions for ALVA require additional documentation), the jury and the editorial staff did not feel a full and fair evaluation could be made. Nevertheless, the discussion around these projects was compelling.

In the case of Hanover Bridge, the jury appreciated the design sensitivity to a historic structure, but questioned the selection of an incandescent system for an exterior application. Its greatest success was the $26,000 installation cost.

On the subject of color, the jury was very specific in its criteria: color should havc a purpose or tell a story and that story should be clear. Two projects—ImageNet Dallas, a production facility, and the Rayko Photo Center—contributed interesting points to this discussion, although from opposite perspectives. At ImageNet Dallas, the use of the color blue had meaning, tying into the corporate branding of the company, and delineating between public and private areas. The RayKo Photo Center intrigued the jury because of its absence of color.

The Williams College theater and dance facility exhibited an interesting 'modulation of daylighting as a transition strategy' from exterior to interior, but the jurors' reservations in evaluating the project were two-fold: not enough information specific to this ALVA category, and concern that their opinion was being swayed by beautiful project photography.

Discussion around these six projects helped the jury clarify its thoughts about the projects to which it did award citations. While this is perhaps little consolation to the entrants of the non-selected projects, all should be assured that without this important contribution to the design review dialogue, the awards process would not be as rich.