August Wilson House. Photo courtesy of Ed Massery Photography.

In a year that saw bottlenecks in supply chains making building materials scarce, it’s surprising it was a busy time for local architects, with lots of strong work in Pittsburgh and elsewhere.

The Pittsburgh chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) honors the best work every year by local architects — featuring juried design competitions, Social Impact Awards for projects that improve the community and a People’s Choice Award winner. The Design Pittsburgh 2022 event was held Thursday night at Nova Place on the North Side.

Sustainability was a major theme, and many of the awards were given to adaptive reuses of old buildings, including the historic August Wilson House in the Hill District and The Industrialist boutique hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh. Architecture firm GBBN took home the most awards with four wins.

“Architecture is the most public of the arts, but we are so used to our buildings that we often don’t really see them,” says Michelle Fanzo, executive director of AIA Pittsburgh. “Design Pittsburgh is a yearly opportunity to really look around and appreciate the remarkable diversity, functionality and beauty of the current design work our local architects are doing, and to celebrate the importance of good, meaningful design.”

Second Harvest Thrift Store. Photo by Joe Wahy, Maya Tuttle/Design & Photography and Robert Tuñón.
Second Harvest Thrift Store. Photo by Joe Wahy, Maya Tuttle/Design & Photography and Robert Tuñón.

Social Impact in Design Awards

Second Harvest Community Thrift Store, Sharpsburg. Rothschild Doyno Collaborative. Jury comments: “We really appreciate the precedent this project sets — that there can be so much life given back to a type of functional building we see all over the country. We also appreciated the resonance of showing pride in reuse as an ethos of the thrift store, but also an ethos of the building. This is an example of how design provides dignity and community.”

August Wilson House, Hill District. Pfaffmann + Associates. Jury comments: “This project hit all the marks for social impact — not an easy task. It preserves a cultural legacy while also being a catalyst for leading change. It is the best example of ‘living history’ while serving as a community gathering place and creative space for now and the future.”

Liberian Self-sustaining Orphan Village, Liberia. Protean Design Collaborative. Jury comments: “This is architecture that brings together function, social purpose and deep environmental considerations — and it does all three well.”

Motor Room Food Hub. Rendering courtesy of Alex Jaskowiak.

Unbuilt Projects: Certificate of Merit

The Motor Room Food Hub at Mill 19 in Hazelwood. AE7. Jury comments: “This is an inspiring project and we particularly liked it as an example for future development and reuse within industrial structures. The designer clearly makes a connection to the history of the space.”

Small projects: Honor Award

Liberian Self-sustaining Orphan Village, Liberia. Protean Design Collaborative.

Carnegie Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians (LAMP). Photo by Ed Massery Photography.

Medium Projects: Certificate of Merit

Carnegie Library Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians (LAMP). GBBN. Jury comments: “The project has clear exterior interventions, beautiful restoration and a thoughtful street relationship. We love the corrals in the windows, the selective use of color and the symmetry that comes from the exterior.”

Contemporary Craft. Photo by Ed Massery Photography.

Contemporary Craft, Lawrenceville. GBBN. Jury comments: “This is a great example of thoroughly reviving a blighted building with a few well-placed architectural moves and thoughtful interior choices. We particularly like the use of texture and tasteful palette that allows the art to shine.”

Kingfly Spirits. Photo by Ed Massery Photography.

Kingfly Spirits, Strip District. Margittai Architects. “This is a sensitive and attractive adaptive reuse that tells a comprehensive story. The exterior is beautiful and clear — it is a perfect example of less is more.”

Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research & Evaluation. Photo by Brad Feinknopf.

Medium Project: Honor Award

Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research & Evaluation, Penn State Behrend, Erie. GBBN. Jury comments: “The new addition and choice of materials succeed in revitalizing the immediate area while maintaining an appropriate and respectful relationship with the existing Federal Style structure.”

The Industrialist. Photo by Alexander Denmarsh/Denmarsh Studios.

Large projects: Honor Award

The Industrialist, Downtown Pittsburgh. Desmone. Jury comments: “This is a gorgeous preservation and restoration with highly skilled craftsmanship.”

Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center, Fairlawn, Ohio. IKM Architecture. Jury comments: “The designers took a simple box and addressed each aspect of it in detail, like where bricks, patterns and window depths vary based on building orientation.”

Kent State University, Design Innovation Hub, Kent, Ohio. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Jury comments: “This renovated design is tastefully restrained and refined, especially considering its size.”

Hillview Elementary School. Photo courtesy of DRAW Collective.

People’s Choice Award

Hillview Elementary School Additions and Alterations, Grove City. DRAW Collective.

The Young Architects Studio Competition Award of Excellence

Brendan Bogolin and Brad Feitl, SmithGroup. Jury comments: “The project was particularly sensitive to the context by creating a tree-top boardwalk that meanders through the air while making important connections through Frick Park.”

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.