Deborah Epstein AIA
principal, Epstein Joslin Architects
Steve Martyak Assoc. AIA
Sashya Thind Fernandes
founder and principal, iD8 Design Studio
The jury reviewed 95 submissions to this design awards program, compared with 76 entries viewed in 2012, and 56 entries in 2010. This increase may represent a slow but steady growth in the US economy over the last five years.
Project types varied widely and included residential, corporate, hospitality, academic, faith-based, cultural, healthcare, labs, and biotech, among others. At the day’s outset we divided submissions into these categories, both to clarify the overall body of work and to develop a common language for evaluating design excellence across typologies. As the strongest work emerged the need to categorize fell away.
For this jury, design excellence was found less in big ideas and more in exquisite details, though we did gravitate toward projects that expressed well-defined concepts. When architects successfully brought the outside in, created an interior to perfectly complement the exterior, or provided effortless navigation through space, we noticed. We evaluated the merits of the architect’s process as well as final results. Innovation turned our heads, though we questioned whether it is even possible for work that’s unavailable to the public to push boundaries or enhance the profession.
Interior architecture and design projects are often intimate, whether hospital bed, sanctuary, or urban boudoir. We questioned how to assess an architect’s work when key aesthetic decisions may have been driven by the client. We also explored the relationship between interior architecture and interior design, and found clear distinctions between spaces that had been sculpted and those simply decorated.
To future submitters to this program, we suggest taking great care with your portfolio. Use the best images you can muster, and be sure that they are telling a story about the interior of a building, not the exterior. While we appreciate the value of demonstrating a correlation, showing interior work that is less compelling than the structure itself can weaken your presentation. Also, if your narrative stresses innovation, be sure the images back up your bold assertion.
While design excellence is not determined by a project’s budget, schedule, or scope, we acknowledged these influencing factors and made an effort to award work across multiple scales. Eleven projects emerged among the whole. We recognized work that contained elements of innovation, surprise, practicality, and livability. The best projects expressed excellence–and beauty—from concept through finishes.
Serving as jurors in a design awards program such as this is always an educational experience. For that, we wish to express our appreciation to the Boston Society of Architects and to all of the design professionals who submitted work to this program. We hope our comments above and on the specific projects we have chosen to honor are useful for all of those who submitted work and other design professionals who may be interested in this program.