The Montgomery Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced the winners of the 2016 Design Awards at its annual awards gala earlier this month, with GMC taking home awards for both the Van Antwerp Historic Renovation and University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) New Student Residence Hall.
The historic Van Antwerp Building Renovation received an Honor Award, the highest level of recognition the Chapter bestows to firms for projects displaying exemplary design exceeding the criteria set forth by the jury, in the commercial projects category.
The more than a century-old high-rise sits on a tight urban site in downtown Mobile, Ala., and is owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama. The Van Antwerp building is recognized as the first large-scale reinforced concrete structure and terracotta-clad building in Mobile and one of the first skyscrapers in the Southeast and the first along the Gulf Coast. Renovation of the historic building entailed restoring the 11-story skyscraper to its original glory, while modernizing the interior spaces for new tenants and code requirements.
The jurors— Frank Harmon, FAIA, Frank Harmon PA in Raleigh, N.C.; Steve Jernigan, FAIA, Bay Design Associates Architects, PL, in Pensacola, Fla.; and Seab Tuck, FAIA, Tuck-Hinton Architects in Nashville, Tenn.— said the following about the project:
“The jury highly commends this sensitive and painstaking restoration of an 11-story, 107-year-old concrete and terracotta office building in Mobile. The original building had been stripped down to within an inch of its life; the architects carefully healed the damage and restored the inside and outside of this architectural gem to its former beauty. The designers went out of their way to locate and duplicate the original cornice. They inserted blue lighting to give the cornice and building a very contemporary look while remaining historically appropriate. We wish to congratulate the Architect and the Owner for this remarkable restoration. You bring credit to the profession and to the city.”
GMC was also recognized with an Award of Merit in the institutional projects category for the UAB New Student Residence Hall in Birmingham, Ala. The University initiated construction of the 222,000-square-foot residence hall to accommodate the increased demand for on-campus housing following its fifth consecutive year of record-high enrollment. The $37.5 million project required design and execution of the large dorm project on a confined urban site in the middle of campus. The project team worked with the City of Birmingham and the University to close off a block of 9th Avenue and reclaim it as a student green space, creating more seamless connectivity to campus and future developments and safer pedestrian crossings.
Regarding this project, the jury said the following:
“The architect respected the neighboring academic buildings by placing the new building to create an urban outdoor room on the campus; thus, the design addresses a larger context beyond the initial scope. The jury applauds the architect for expanding on the owner’s original intent, thus making a positive contribution to the university campus.”