Best of the West
by Michael J. Crosbie
If you're looking for some of the best in design that North American architecture has to offer, heed Horace Greeley's advice to "Go West!"
The winners of the Western International Design Awards, 17 in all, display a breadth of approaches, many with acute sensitivity to the regional flavor and people of their locale. The awards were announced at the American Institute of Architects' Western International Summit a few weeks ago in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Taking top honors was the American Heritage Center and Art Museum at the University of Wyoming at Laramie, designed by Antoine Predock. Anyone familiar with Predock's work will recognize his trademark bold forms immediately, particularly the building's central space housed in a gigantic tipi.
Actually, Predock's intent here is to echo the land forms of nearby Medicine Bow Peak and Pilot's Knob; the building's axis, in fact, aligns with the two summits. However, one can't help but make the association with Native American tent structures.
The jury (which included two of Canada's most distinguished architects, Arthur Erickson and Douglas Cardinal, architecture critic Alan Temko, and western region architects Allison Williams and Bruce Blackmer) noted that Predock's building "truly captures the spirit of the American West."
Among the five honor awards, of particular note is a house at Toro Canyon in Montecito, California, designed by Barton Myers Associates, which contrasts the mechanistic quality of simple steel construction with the lush landscape around it.
Predock's bold forms echo the land forms of two nearby summits.
Photo: Timothy Hursley
A house designed by Barton Myers Associates contrasts the mechanistic quality of steel construction with a lush landscape.
Photo: Grant Mudford
Click on thumbnail images
to view full-size pictures.