North American Wood
The Richmond Oval's roof form celebrates the heron, a bird common on the adjacent Fraser River, through a series of "feathered" roof spans that extend from the edge of the building. The roofline also resembles the City of Richmond's stylized heron symbol.
The facility has a number of sustainable features, including a system to capture heat energy from ice creation for use elsewhere in the building.
Near the Arkansas River in the Rocky Mountains stands the Chapel of the Sky, one of nine separate buildings that the owner, architect Ron Mason, has designed and help build on his property, located at an elevation of 8,800 feet (2,700 meters) near Granite, Colorado.
The chapel stands alone at the end of a hiking trail, a small rectangular box perched on legs. "You can see it up there on the hill and it's definitely a destination," says Mason, a 35-year veteran of Anderson Mason Dale Architects who previously worked in the office of I.M. Pei. "It pulls you there."
The structure's spruce walls have no additional finish material, inside or out. Upon entering the chapel, the visitor's focus is drawn to the sky through a large window above an elevated platform. Windows of different sizes punctuate the walls, framing specific views of the landscape.
Mason says he chose to use spruce because it's readily available and easy to work with, which was important to him given the isolation of the site.
Why a chapel? "I am certainly not a religious person," the architect explains. "It was just mostly the desire to have a place that I could hike to with a truly awesome experience when you got there."
"And being an architect, you're always drawn to want to build stuff for yourself," Mason continues. "Throughout my life I've dealt with clients who require consensus-building, especially for public building projects. That's difficult. It often leaves you feeling like, if you'd had it your way, it could have gone a whole lot better. The opportunity to do these small buildings is special."
Woods in Woodside
The Creekside House in Woodside, California, designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, stands in a meadow encircled by a forest of old-growth redwoods, great western oaks, Douglas fir, and bay laurels.
The form of the 12,000-square-foot (1,100-square-meter) house, which was designed for a couple with two children, consists of a series of weathered cedar-clad boxes where kitchen and sleeping spaces are located. The roof — a thin, flat plane of Douglas fir — provides a gentle contrast to the cedar. Living and dining areas are clad in floor-to-ceiling glass and rich woods, providing picturesque views into the sylvan surroundings.
The Prefab Cottage for Two Families in Muskoka, Ontario, designed by Kohn Shnier Architects, is a long, thin structure situated on a wooded ridge. The year-round retreat consists of seven separate prefabricated units stacked on top of one another. The architects placed living areas upstairs and the bedrooms below, and provided all three floors access to grade.
Wood is prevalent throughout. A long cedar bridge leads from the parking area to the upper floor. The kitchen, living, dining, and bedroom interiors are clad in ash. And custom furniture was constructed from jatobá, a hardwood native to the Caribbean and South America.
Prefabricated component structures were used to in order reduce impact on the site and minimize onsite construction time.
Royal Concert Hall
The signature form in Koerner Hall, located in the Royal Conservatory of Music's TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning in Toronto, is what the architects call a "floating veil" — a series of hanging twisted oak strips that form a vertical backdrop to the stage. The veil also helps disperse sound from under an acoustic canopy.
Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects designed the 1,135-seat concert hall based on the classic shoebox shape of some of the world's finest concert halls, with two balcony tiers above the main orchestra level, and a third technical balcony. Juxtaposed against the rectilinear form of the hall is a sequence of oak balconies and curving walls. Collectively, these wood finishes give the space a strikingly modern yet visually warm feel while also contributing to the hall's excellent acoustics.
House on the Sound
Architect Joeb Moore interprets traditional suburban home materials and forms in fresh ways, such as in his firm's Spiral House in Old Greenwich, located on the Connecticut shoreline of Long Island Sound. The western-redcedar cladding recalls traditional New England shingle-style board-and-batten techniques, but the house seems unequivocally modern in the strict linearity of its lattice panels.
Both to meet strict zoning regulations, given the area's susceptibility to flooding, and to enhance the house's view of the Sound, the private wing of the structure stands raised on steel columns. That linear portion of the house links to the contrasting namesake spiral form.
Interpreting the Forest
The layout and style of the Tillamook Forest Center, an interpretive center in the Coast Range in Tillamook, Oregon, is based on a logging structure called a "skid" — a long, partially covered platform used historically for moving and sawing timber.
"I use that term 'skid' fairly loosely," explains Robert Hull, partner at The Miller Hull Partnership, which deigned the project. "I saw a photo of an old forest sawmill. They had built this platform with a shelter over the top that sheltered their main saws. They would skid this lumber out the other end."
That skid form is echoed at the Tillamook center in the linear sequence from the arrival point to the timber-frame interpretive building and onto the 250-foot-long (76-meter) bridge over the Wilson River, connecting to campgrounds and trails on the other side.
The building features ample Douglas fir, and the lobby and interpretive areas are clad in cedar. A variety of wood materials came from timber-industry donations, including reclaimed cedar trim and pine cabinetry. The facility is heated with wood pellets in high-efficiency boilers. Although the client chose not to pursue LEED certification, the building was designed to LEED Silver standards, according to the architects.
One additional project received a merit award: Louver House in Wainscott, New York, by Leroy Street Studio. Also known as Modern Barn, the project previously received an AIA Housing Award in 2008.
Six projects received citation awards:
Kroon Hall, Yale University School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, New Haven, Connecticut, by Hopkins Architects with Centerbrook Architects and Planners (previously featured in ArchitectureWeek No. 457)
Kingsway Pedestrian Bridge, Burnaby, British Columbia, by Busby Perkins + Will
Camouflage House, Green Lake, Wisconsin, by Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Hill House, Lower Kingsburg, Nova Scotia, by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects
Integral House, Toronto, by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center, Grand Teton National Park, Moose, Wyoming, by Carney Architects
Two projects received special awards, presented by the Canadian Wood Council:
Combs Point Residence, Ovid, New York, by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Art Gallery of Ontario's Transformation AGO, Toronto, by Gehry International Inc.
Wood has long been a part of the local vernacular in many places in the world, and as these award recipients demonstrate, it continues to be applied to dramatic effect, perhaps with added significance in regions where forests and wood products are of particular importance to the local culture and economy.
The 16 recipients of the 2009 Wood Design Awards were announced on January 6, 2010.
The jury for the 2009 Wood Design Awards included Silvio Baldassarra, NORR Ltd. Architects and Engineers; Keith Boswell, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM); and Wendy Evans Joseph, Wendy Evans Joseph Architecture.
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Brian Libby is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer who has also published in Metropolis, Architectural Record, the Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Times. More by Brian Libby