Architecture & Design and Focus

AIA Grand Rapids celebrates design in a big way

Integrated, Cornerstone and Progressive are multiple award winners.

November 1, 2013
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AIA Grand Rapids celebrates design in a big way
The Fulton Street Farmers Market earned Lott3Metz Architecture an honorable mention in the building category. Photo by Michael Buck

The Grand Rapids chapter of the American Institute of Architects recently celebrated the best designs and designers of 2013 with nine awards at its annual reception.

Integrated Architecture captured the prestigious 2013 Firm Achievement Award, given annually to the company that provides leadership in the local field and makes contributions to the local profession.

“As Integrated approaches our 25-year anniversary, there are a number of things to celebrate. This award is one of them, as it recognizes the efforts of our entire staff to consistently design thoughtful projects for our clients and the community,” said Scott Vyn, director of design, when he accepted the award on the team’s behalf.

The award jury, which consisted of members of AIA Minneapolis, called Integrated’s portfolio diverse and beautiful and said its strong commitment to design, community and sustainability was clearly evident in its work.

It’s not the first time Integrated has been honored in that fashion. AIA Michigan named it Michigan Firm of the Year in 2006, and AIA GR chose Integrated to receive the Firm Achievement Award in 2004. Architect Magazine has included Integrated for the past two years on its national list of the top 50 firms for sustainable design.

AIA GR also gave Integrated an Honor Award Honorable Mention for its renovation of the Baker Book House store near East Paris and 28thStreet SE. The final product was characterized as “a library meeting a bookstore” because the retail aspect was “successfully toned and not over done” and the material was “smart and thoughtful inside and out.”

Matt Slagle was named the chapter’s 2013 Young Architect. Slagle has been a design architect at TowerPinkster since 2006. Before then, he worked at Progressive AE and H+L Architecture as a project architect. Slagle earned his master’s degree at the University of Colorado in Denver.

“I strive to create places that inspire human beings to achieve their goals, interact with their peers and celebrate our environment,” he said. “I have found the design process to be as much about consensus building as it is to generate architecture.”

AIA GR gave Grand Rapids Planning Director Suzanne Schulz its David D. Smith Humanitarian Award. Smith was an architect for the city’s public school system and a local leader in the green environmental movement. “He created beautiful buildings for everyone, especially for the children,” said Schulz of Smith.

Schulz has been directing planning and design at the city since 2005, following a four-year stint as assistant planning director. She headed the Green Grand Rapids project that focused on the city’s parks, greenspace, tree inventory, stormwater runoff and Grand River. She received the 2012 Daniel Burnham Award from the Michigan chapter of the American Planning Association for that effort. She currently is involved in the Michigan Street Corridor study, another initiative she started. Schulz and her husband, Scott, own Two Beards Deli and Cherry Deli & Catering.

Cornerstone Architects was honored twice by AIA GR, including the only Honor Award this year for a building project: its design of the Hagerty Insurance Agency structure in Traverse City. The judges called it a “very successful urban building that adds to the context of the city. It has an appropriate scale and a disciplined but imaginative composition.”

John Dancer, a partner with Tom Nemitz in Cornerstone Architects, designed the Hagerty with Michael Wychers. “It is the latest of several buildings and renovations we have done for Hagerty over the past 10 years, and represents the latest of their campus expansion in Traverse City. We are fortunate to have a client that shares our passion for architecture,” said Nemitz.

Cornerstone also received the Osgood & Osgood Award, which honors a project that was designed but not built — in this case, a music venue the owner doesn’t want identified at this point. The jury said, “This is still a project we’d like to see built.”

Progressive AE also won a pair of awards, capturing two honorable mentions. One was in the building category for its design of The Rapid Operations Center on Wealthy Street SW, which the jury called “a wonderful intervention on an existing structure,” saying the design showed a “great use of natural daylight throughout.”

Progressive also won an interior architecture honorable mention for its work on the four regional hubs of the MLIve Media Group. The judges felt the design provided “an interesting program and a fascinating conceptual issue with a good amount of risk taking.”

Lott3Metz Architecture was recognized with an honorable mention in the building category for its design of the new Fulton Street Farmers Market. 

“Certainly a standout when compared to other farmers market infrastructure this jury has seen. The street-front presence is inviting, at a nice scale, and strongly defines the site as a public space” were the judges’ key comments about the design.

“It is a pretty big deal for us,” said Ted Lott, a partner with Greg Metz in the firm.

The awards reception was held in the recently renovated 4 East Fulton Building at the corner of Fulton Street and Division Avenue. Locus Development owns the structure, which was formerly known as the Junior Achievement Building, and TowerPinkster designed the renovation.

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