The Grand Rapids chapter of American Institute of Architects (AIA) held its annual Honor Awards Gala last night.
Twenty entries were submitted this year, in categories such as: individual buildings, interior architecture and small commercial design. That’s fewer entries than a year ago, but it isn’t a bad thing, according to Thom Danckaert, Grand Rapids AIA board president and lead design architect at Grand Rapids-based Progressive AE.
“I think that’s an indicator that our firms are busy,” Danckaert said. “It indicates that people aren’t taking time away from paying clients to submit for awards.”
Danckaert told MiBiz that overall, the state of the industry in West Michigan remains positive, adding that he was particularly pleased with the amount of awards going to new or updated educational facilities. He also noted that those awards show the region’s commitment to staying “relevant.”
In addition to recognizing individual projects, last night’s AIA Honor Awards also paid tribute to the late Mark Kastner, a long-time architect with Progressive AE, as well as to individuals and organizations who have worked closely with the region’s architectural and design industries.
Danckaert’s sentiments that West Michigan’s architectural and engineering firms are busy largely matches up with last month’s findings from the national AIA chapter, based in Washington, D.C.
According to the latest Architectural Billings Index (ABI), an economic indicator used to gauge potential upcoming construction activity, design activity did see a slight decline.
The ABI, released in late-September, slipped to 49.7, down from its mark of 51.5 the previous month. Any score below 50 represents a decrease in total architectural billings.
Nevertheless, economists monitoring the industry say there appears to be no reason to begin worrying.
“This is only the second month this year where demand for architectural services has declined and it is only by a fraction of a point,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Maker said in a statement. “Given the solid numbers for new design contracts and project inquiries, it doesn’t appear that this is the beginning of a broader downturn in the design and construction industry.”
The full list of this year’s Honor Award winners is below:
Building Award Winners (Project name — architecture firm)
Northview High School — TowerPinkster
Northwood University Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management — TowerPinkster
Mary Free Bed YMCA — Progressive AE
St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church — Progressive AE
Interior Architecture (Project name — architecture firm)
Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Cafeteria — Progressive AE
New Offices for Mathison | Mathison Architects — Mathison | Mathison Architects
Residential Architecture (Project name — architecture firm)
Dogwood Residence — Lucid Architecture
Osgood & Osgood Award for Unbuilt Projects (Project name — architecture firm)
ShearHouse — GMB Architecture + Engineering
Small Commercial Design (Project name — architecture firm)
Fusion Education Group at The Morton — Integrated Architecture
Lifetime Achievement Award: Mark Kastner, Progressive AE
Firm Achievement Award: GMB Architecture + Engineering
David D. Smith Humanitarian Award: Jonathan Bradford, retired president & CEO — Inner City Christian Federation
Distinguished Professional Affiliate Award
Acoustics By Design