2013 Mel Ferris Award Winner Announced

Michael Sotona, a Woodbury Architecture Student, is the California Architectural Foundation’s 2013 Mel Ferris Award Winner

SACRAMENTO, CA (August 26, 2013) — The California Architectural Foundation (CAF) and the jurors for the 2013 Mel Ferris Award are proud to announce that Michael Sotona, a Woodbury undergraduate architectural student, is this year’s Grand Prize winner. His project, Augmented Landscapes – an environmental monitoring lab and interpretive visitor center in Los Angeles, tackles the challenging issues relating to water which are currently at the frontier of sustainable design. The jury describes his work as “modest, beautiful and well resolved with a balance between not being overly heroic and recognizing its sensitivity to the site.”

‘Augmented landscapes’ is located in the contaminated and culturally critical landscape of the Santa Susana Field Lab in Los Angeles. The landscape consists of a series of wetland and bioswale systems that incorporate existing watersheds and Phytoremediation in order to filter pollutants left behind by an onsite rocket engine testing facility from the Cold War years. Green roof systems of the lab connect the building to its larger landscape, while capturing rain water to nourish its plants and cool the building. The roof also serves as a device for teaching visitors about wetland plants and ecologies as well as collecting water for the radiant heating system. Natural ventilation is provided by both a series of small openings between the building’s intersecting planes and by an open area above the existing water channel that runs through the structure. Photovoltaic arrays provide power to the lab electronic devices and learning center media hardware. While the structure relies primarily on passive heating and cooling systems, a radiant hydronic heating system is used to provide comfort during the winter season. In describing his rationale behind his project, Michael notes that ‘the collective wisdom of the monitoring lab and its functional landscape is that even the most natural of landscapes has been altered by human presence and use; therefore, to make a restoration a celebrated human artifact is the more enlightened path.’

The Mel Ferris Scholarship Program was established in 1990 to honor Melton A. Ferris, Hon. AIA, and Executive Vice President of the AIA California Council from 1953 until 1978. Through the Mel Ferris Scholarship, the California Architectural Foundation (CAF) has supported over 130 outstanding university students in California with over $220,000 in financial assistance. The program is funded by contributions from California architects, their firms, and their friends. Recognizing the importance of sustainable design to the future of our profession and our world, CAF challenged students and our California schools of architecture to submit projects that meet at least six of the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Ten Measures of Sustainable Design and Performance Metrics. Each of California’s ten accredited schools then selected a School’s Choice Award winner to compete for the Grand Prize.

The jury also acknowledges the work of Leina Naversen, a Cal Poly Pomona Architectural graduate student with an Honorable Mention. Her project, Cerro Azul Community Courtyard, a carbon-neutral community center in Baja, Mexico, has “a strong, sensitive and highly sophisticated site plan as well as social insight, good planning and an adept handling of basic sustainability characteristics. Her presentation was articulated well and had a clear and understandable message with a good use of energy design tools to demonstrate what she was proposing.”

This year’s Mel Ferris Award jury consisted of: Amanda Dameron, Editor-in-Chief of Dwell magazine; Lance Hosey, AIA, LEED AP, Chief Sustainability Officer with RTKL; Diane McLean, AIA, LEED AP, Southern California Edison, New Construction Services; Rob Quigley, FAIA, Rob Quigley Architects, San Diego; and Stanley Saitowitz, Principal of Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects, Inc., San Francisco.

The California Architectural Foundation (CAF) believes that a designed world is a better world. Every day we build bridges between designers, educators and community leaders to promote forward-thinking and pragmatic solutions to urban challenges, because the health of California and the future of the built environment depend upon the cultivation of great ideas. CAF serves as the education and research arm of the American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC). Focusing on advancing sustainable communities, CAF uses its programs and relationships to explore progressive ideas, honor outstanding accomplishments and inform the public about the many ways in which design can support change.

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