2008 Fairfax County Exceptional Design Award Winners


The design jury for the twenty-fourth annual Fairfax County Exceptional Design Awards Program recently selected ten entries to receive awards for exceptional architectural and site design.  The design awards program is sponsored by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and administered by the County Department of Planning and Zoning in cooperation with the County Architectural Review Board and the Northern Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  The purpose of the awards program is to recognize achievement in the total design of a building and site and to create an awareness of outstanding planning and design projects among design professionals and the general public.  The awards will be presented in the fall.  This year's awards recipients are:

Honor Award: The Potomac School - Upper School

     Category: Institutional

     Architect: cox graae + spack Architects, Washington, D.C.

     Owner/Developer:  The Potomac School

     Year Built: 2007

Design Awards 1 Design Awards 2 Design Awards 3

Design Jury Comments:

Of all the award winners, this was the largest and may have faced the most complex group of problems.
The Potomac School in McLean, Virginia is a K - 12 independent school on an 87 acre campus.  Its Lower and Middle Schools seemed unrelated to the existing Upper School, located across an open playing field from the rest of the campus.  The design challenge was to create a significantly larger Upper School campus, adding two new buildings to the existing Upper School, and, through landscaping, linking the Upper School to the Lower School campus. It was also important to provide a new architectural identity for the Upper School.
The design solution, simply stated, creates a broad terraced quadrangle bordered on two sides by the new buildings and connected across the lawn by an elevated glass-enclosed bridge.  The bridge connects and incorporates the existing and new buildings into a cohesive multi-level complex. One of the remarkable focal points of this solution is the space where the bridge joins the new buildings and existing buildings together - creating a multi-use gathering place named the Crossroads.

Outstanding design solutions, like this, almost always reduce the most complex problems to simple and clear solutions that are beautiful and comfortable to use. The jury felt this design accomplished this with great skill.

 

Merit Award: McLean Poolhouse

    Category: Residential, Single-family Detached

    Architect: Randall Mars Architects, McLean, VA

    Owner/Developer:  Name withheld

    Year Built: 2007

Design Awards 4 Design Awards5 Design Awards 6

     Design Jury Comments:

A unanimous award winner the Jury agreed.
The primary challenge was to design a swimming pool and pool house for the back yard of a suburban residence on a tight lot without using all of the available yard. The secondary challenge was to make these elements and the new landscaping the visual focal point of the back yard.
The solution was a jewel of a design that seamlessly integrated the pool, pool house and landscaping into a special retreat. To answer the problem of conserving space, the design placed the pool house and pool within inches of each other, and invited the pool to become part of the pool house when the glass garage door is raised. Successful small building designs depend on very thoughtful details – as this design demonstrates so well. Every element of this design contributes to the beautiful solution, from the simple gable structure to the understated floor plan, from the deliberate use of few materials to the stainless steel scupper mounted high on the wall of the pool house, by which water spills into the pool.   

Merit Award: 11415 Isaac Newton Square

    Category: Commercial, Office (interior)

    Architect: SHW Group, Reston, VA

    Owner/Developer: SHW Group

    Year Built: 2006

Design Awards 7 Design Awards 8 Design Awards 9

     Design Jury Comments:

This project transformed existing commercial space into offices for an architectural firm committed to incorporating the principles of sustainable architecture.  These principles included recovering materials from landfill, using recycled materials in doors, frames, lighting, plumbing fixtures, exterior glass systems and ductwork, and selecting new materials that were made from recycled materials, in this case interior wall panels and toilet partitions. Natural linoleum flooring was used, as was wood from certified forests.

As the Awards Jury recognized, however, selecting environmental friendly materials is not enough, in itself, to make a good design.
This creative and successful transformation of existing space started with re-landscaping a “front yard?? to bring more daylight into the offices. Inside, natural light was introduced into the existing space through the extensive use of skylights; new partitions were kept low to share the light; and the structure was exposed to increase the internal height.

In the end, a dark and awkward space was transformed into a lively, bright and open place to work, enhanced - rather than dictated -  by the principles of sustainable architecture.

Merit Award: Fairfax Center Fire & Rescue Station 40

    Category: Institutional

    Architect: Hughes Group Architects, Sterling, VA

    Owner/Developer: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

    Year Built: 2006

Design Awards 10 Design Awards 11 Design Awards 12

     Design Jury Comments:

This Fairfax County Fire Station, the Jury agreed, touched all the bases for good design while incorporating the principles of sustainable architecture.
This station is the largest and most comprehensive emergency service facility in Fairfax County, housing a fire company as well as supporting the County’s central Hazardous Materials Unit. In addition, the station provides quarters for 45 personnel and includes 5 drive-thru bays, 900 sf training room and 2000 sf of equipment storage.

With such a complex design program, strong design skills were required to create a clear and efficient design solution;  that the thoughtful organization of the outstanding interior design was so ably and attractively reflected on the exterior confirmed the jury’s opinion that this deserved a merit award. Good architecture always begins with understanding light.  The use of natural light in this project was masterful.  Effectively introducing natural light into architecture is a basic principle of sustainable architecture, and creating an inviting place to work is a matter of no small skill.

Merit Award: Park Village - Fort Belvoir Family Housing

    Category: Historical

    Architect: The RKtects Studios, Inc. Reston, VA

    Owner/Developer: Clark Realty Capital, L.L.C.

    Year Built: 2006

Design Awards 13 Design Awards 14 Design Awards 15

     Design Jury Comments:

This was a unanimous award winner, the Jury agreed.  Park Village is one of the four housing villages located within the Fort Belvoir Historic District, and contains two existing historic homes which were constructed as temporary housing immediately after WWI.  The architects were presented with the challenge of restoring the two historic houses to their original post-WWI appearance while making them the focal point of a neighborhood of 22 new houses on a new loop street based upon the original street plan of Park Village. The designers avoided the trap of copying the historic houses and blurring the difference between historic and new construction. Instead, a modified craftsman bungalow style, popular in the 1930’s, was used to make a subtle but clear distinction between the historic and new. Adding to the success of this project was the preservation of historic landscape features by carefully working with the existing topography and saving significant trees. Once again, we see another project that derives it strength through conservation and preservation. 

Honorable Mention Award: Lakeview Renovation

     Category: Residential, Single-family Detached

     Architect: David Jameson Architect, Inc., Alexandria, VA  

     Owner/Developer:   Gabe and Ann Nassar

     Year Built: 2006

Design Awards 16 Design Awards 17 Design Awards 18

     Design Jury Comments:

This remodeling project - transforming a small former camp house into a 4500 sf contemporary home - was significantly influenced by the requirement that the existing house be continuously occupied during construction. While the floor plans logically gave all the major living spaces outstanding views of the lake, this sculptural solution provided some unexpected aesthetic surprises. While avoiding a monotonous lake side glass wall, the designer was able to counterbalance the vertical glass tower of the master bedroom wing with the horizontal glass of the great room wing, making the spaces inside more interesting as well as improving the appearance of the house from the lake.  This project skillfully combines saving an older house, transforming it into a home filled with light and surprises, and maximizing its magnificent views

Honorable Mention Award: A Slice of Light  

     Category: Residential, Single-family Detached

     Architect: Susan Woodward Notkins Architects, PC, McLean, VA

     Owner/Developer: Mr. & Mrs. Hendricks

     Year Built: 2003

Design Awards 19 Design Awards 20 Design Awards 21

     Design Jury Comments:

In an era of carelessly tearing down older, modestly-sized homes to replace them with McMansions that can rend the fabric of friendly neighborhoods, the Jury was especially pleased to commend this excellent example of client and architect working with less to create more – in this case, more light, openness and beauty – by deciding to keep the smallish brick rambler floor plan mostly intact. Through the skillful use of natural light and sensitive detailing, the architect was able to demonstrate that a simple but functional 1970’s floor plan can become a home that feels cheerful, bright and of the 21st century, full of delight and surprises on the interior, with subtle but very effective design changes on the exterior.  Though this project does not boast of it’s sustainable qualities, it meets the first and most important test of green architecture, which is – basically -  does it do the most with what it has?

Honorable Mention Award: Midtown North

     Category: Residential, Multi-family

     Architect: CMSS Architects, PC

     Owner/Developer: Kettler

     Year Built: 2007

Design Awards 22 Design Awards 23 Design Awards 24

     Design Jury Comments:

In the Reston Town Center, which has achieved a vibrant urban feel in a relatively short time, this multi-story condominium brought a level of design sophistication to problem-solving rarely seen in projects of this type.  Among the challenges facing the designer was a requirement that this condominium tower share its site with a five-story parking garage, and be built over an underground parking structure. Adding to the difficulty of the design problem were different height restrictions on the site.  The jury felt that the architects far exceeded their obligation merely to create an elegant and luxurious condominium by designing this project to wrap around the 5 story parking garage, concealing it from sight.   The sophisticated design of the building’s exterior was handled with as much concern for the views from the street as for the comfort of the condo owners, representing a win-win solution for the public and the community as well as for the residents.


Honorable Mention Award: SF DEsign Group / Chantilly, VA Office

     Category: Commercial, Office (interior)

     Architect: SF Design Group, Chantilly, VA

     Owner/Developer: Saharnaz Farivar and Esmail Dilmaghani

     Year Built: 2007

Design Awards 25 Design Awards 26 Design Awards 27

     Design Jury Comments:

The designers of this small interiors project understood a universal principle of design, which is that the smaller the design challenge the more important each detail becomes. Working with a very small, typical industrial office shell, the architects were asked to incorporate 5 office workspaces, 2 conference rooms and a reception/waiting space into only 1200 sf.  The jury agreed that not only was the functional problem resolved efficiently with no wasted space, but that, more importantly, it was done with elegance and beauty seldom seen in interior spaces of this type.

 

Honorable Mention Award: Oakton Library, Oakton, Virginia

     Category: Institutional

     Architect: PSA-Dewberry, Inc. Fairfax, VA

     Owner/Developer: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

     Year Built: 2007

Design Awards 28 Design Awards 29 Design Awards 30

     Design Jury Comments:

The strengths of this award-winning Library, the jury felt, were its open and flexible plan and the dramatic use of daylighting throughout the interior.
Working with a difficult site located between a neighborhood of traditionally-styled  homes and a starkly modern church, the architects were challenged to design a Library that would aesthetically bridge these conflicting styles of architecture. By using materials common to both neighbors and a scale friendly to each, the Library serves as a homogenous landmark in the community. Most praiseworthy is the fact that this is one of the first county libraries to be LEED certified, which will result in a savings to the operating cost of between $6500 and $10000 per year to the tax payers.

Design Awards 31  Design Awards 32 Design Awards 33

Names were removed from project nominations and judged by a Review Committee comprised of representatives of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (Marlene Walli Shade and Aaeon Gasper), the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association (Jeni Hornback), the Potomac Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (Ching-Fang Chen), the Engineers and Surveyors Institute ( Denis Gulakowski), the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce (J. Paul Lewis), the Fairfax County History Commission (Lynne Garvey Hodge), and the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board (Robert Wilson Mobley).
 


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