Playing Favorites: AIA San Francisco's 2009 Design Award Winners


The American Institute of Architect’s San Francisco chapter doled out its 2009 Design Awards last week, providing us with unparalleled eye candy in the process. Common elements include wide expanses of glass, modestly sized homes and offices, sustainable conversions of industrial buildings, and clean, simple lines. So what if we were hoping for secret staircases, ceiling aquariums, retractable roofs, and four-story slip ‘n slides? These pros are too classy for all that. We show off our favorites after the jump.

Congregation Beth Shalom Synagogue

Completed in May 2008 for an estimated cost just shy of $12 million, this project by Stanley Saitowitz / Natoma Architects couples two strong forms into a cohesive whole. The masonry sanctuary is conceived of as a vessel floating in water, with the support structure ending in a radiant cube. A central courtyard both joins and separates the social and administrative spaces from the sanctuary, which is accessed by rising up through the building in a spiral.

NEST House

Naylor & Chu netted an Honor Award for this unbuilt design, which imagines a future without FEMA trailers. This sustainably constructed emergency structure can be transported inside a single shipping container, rendering it a viable option for medium-to-long term disaster-relief housing. The wooden-slatted facade can be quickly adjusted to provide shade in hot climates or privacy in densely populated areas.

Final(ly) House

This green home, designed by Rothschild Schwartz takes a cue from prarie-style sod houses to blend seamlessly into its surroundings. Situated on the Wolfback Ridge near Sausalito, California, the architects solved an unsual problem: the occupants, who are nearing 90, wished to have access to the house from all sides. Thus, the house is ingeniously placed to bridge a sloping site, where it fits like a puzzle piece into the hilly terrain.