According to Raleigh, NC-based architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, the Seattle chapter of the American Institute of Architect’s 2007 Honor Awards program, which took place in November, is “the best state or local design awards I have juried. They should all be done this way.”
Harmon, principal of the award-winning firm Frank Harmon Architect, is a frequent juror for AIA awards programs across the nation. This was his first awards jury in Seattle, however, and the format was quite different from the others. A typical awards program lasts one day, he explained, and the judges only see photos of the entries, often meeting in the city where the jurors live, not in the city or state of the awards projects.
“The real uniqueness of the Seattle jury was that it took place in Seattle over a three day period,” Harmon said. “The first day we reviewed 140 or so entries and at the end of the day had two dozen projects on a short list.” This was no easy task, he noted, “because most of the entries were at a very high level of accomplishment. This is one of the best chapters in the country.”
The second day, Harmon and fellow jurists Jeanne Gang and Joshua Prince-Ramos visited the short-listed projects in the Seattle area. “No other jury that I know of does this except the national AIA Honor Awards,” said Harmon, who served on the National AIA jury in 2004. “It is a invaluable way to choose honorees because there is nothing like seeing the project to judge its quality.”
The third day the jury deliberated, chose the winners, and prepared their presentation.
On the night of the design awards ceremony, over 700 people first gathered for evening socializing and viewing a slide show of all the programs entries, not just the winners. When participants gathered in the hall afterwards for the presentations, they found the stage set with a couch and chairs rather than a podium. The jurors were then invited to have a seat on stage.
The awards were presented in Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. The presentation involved a discussion format moderated by the University of Washington’s dean of Architecture, Daniel Friedman. For more information on the AIA Seattle 2007 Honor Awards for Washington Architecture visit http://www.aiaseattle.org.
Frank Harmon is also a frequent speaker at architectural events and conferences, including the 2007 American Institute of Architects’ National Convention held in San Antonio, Texas, in May, Dwell magazine’s design conference held in San Francisco in September, and Residential Architect magazine’s annual conference to be held in Charleston in December.
For more information on Frank Harmon, visit http://www.frankharmon.com.