Celebrate Compact and Low-Budget Design With the the AIA Small Project Awards

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By Kate Reggev
Discover award-winning homes across the country and submit entries for the annual AIA Small Project Awards.

Each year, the American Institute of Architects (AIA)—a professional organization for architects in the United States—hosts the Small Projects Awards, which recognizes high-quality, small-scale projects that range in program and type, but are all completed under a specific budget based on three distinct categories. The program, the AIA says, "strives to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects bring to projects, no matter the limits of size and scope."

Celebrate Compact and Low-Budget Design With the the AIA Small Project Awards - Photo 1 of 7 - The Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins in Leadville, Colorado, was one of the 11 projects that received a Small Project Award in 2017. They were designed by students at the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado and the Colorado Building Workshop.

The Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins in Leadville, Colorado, was one of the 11 projects that received a Small Project Award in 2017. They were designed by students at the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado and the Colorado Building Workshop.

Each year, entries are submitted by early-November (this year, entries are still being accepted now until November 13) and are evaluated by a distinguished jury, after which awards are announced. A theme is selected that helps assess each entry and how it engages with the idea, concepts, and elements related to the theme. This year’s theme is Renewal, and is intentionally left open for interpretation.

Celebrate Compact and Low-Budget Design With the the AIA Small Project Awards - Photo 2 of 7 - Another 2017 winner was the De Maria Pavilion in Bridgehampton, New York, by Gluckman Tang Architects. The concrete art pavilion is located along an art walk on a grand estate.

Another 2017 winner was the De Maria Pavilion in Bridgehampton, New York, by Gluckman Tang Architects. The concrete art pavilion is located along an art walk on a grand estate.


Celebrate Compact and Low-Budget Design With the the AIA Small Project Awards - Photo 3 of 7 - The Lightbox in Point Roberts, Washington, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson won a 2017 award for its compact size, simple materials, and innovative layout.

The Lightbox in Point Roberts, Washington, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson won a 2017 award for its compact size, simple materials, and innovative layout.

With the previous year’s theme, Reflection, winners ranged from open-air, bent-steel pavilions and prefabricated cabins to a gabled supportive transitional housing facility for new mothers and a compact glass-and-wood home in Washington state. 

Celebrate Compact and Low-Budget Design With the the AIA Small Project Awards - Photo 4 of 7 - The Little House in Seabeck, Washington, by MW Works captures the essence of a cabin in the woods, despite its more generous size. It also won an award in 2017.

The Little House in Seabeck, Washington, by MW Works captures the essence of a cabin in the woods, despite its more generous size. It also won an award in 2017.

Other projects of the 2017 awards included a home and studio for a photographer with a glass cage, a pavilion with panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains, a private, faceted observatory inspired by its gray granite surroundings, a barn in North Carolina with an angled roof, and public restrooms with poured-in-place concrete and weathered steel. 

Celebrate Compact and Low-Budget Design With the the AIA Small Project Awards - Photo 5 of 7 - The Funny Girl Farm Produce Barn in Durham, North Carolina, by Szostak Design won a 2017 award for its inventive use of simple materials for an agrarian structure.

The Funny Girl Farm Produce Barn in Durham, North Carolina, by Szostak Design won a 2017 award for its inventive use of simple materials for an agrarian structure.

 "A small project can make a big impact, and a single design element can set the tone for large projects," says the host of the awards. To cover a spectrum of project sizes and budgets, the awards are divided into three categories: projects with a construction cost of under $150,000; projects with a construction cost of under $1.5 million; and projects under 5,000 square feet. 

Celebrate Compact and Low-Budget Design With the the AIA Small Project Awards - Photo 6 of 7 - The Gemma Observatory in New Hampshire by Anmahian Winton Architects was designed with several environmental considerations in mind, winning it a 2017 award.

The Gemma Observatory in New Hampshire by Anmahian Winton Architects was designed with several environmental considerations in mind, winning it a 2017 award.

The awards are hosted by one of the AIA’s many Knowledge Communities, the Small Project Practitioners, which serves as a nexus for small firms and designers of small projects. The community generates, collects, and distributes knowledge in the form of articles, awards, research grants, resources, and discussions with tips. They've hosted the Small Project Awards for 14 years now. 

Celebrate Compact and Low-Budget Design With the the AIA Small Project Awards - Photo 7 of 7 - La Cage aux Folles in Los Angeles by Warren Techentin Architecture won a 2017 award for its exploration of a complex structure made out of bent-steel tubes.

La Cage aux Folles in Los Angeles by Warren Techentin Architecture won a 2017 award for its exploration of a complex structure made out of bent-steel tubes.

If you have a fitting project you'd like to have considered, submit it here by November 13!

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