Big Shoes, Small Footprint
 California Architectural Foundation Calls For Entries For 2013 Owings Award For Environmental Excellence

SACRAMENTO, CA. The California Architectural Foundation (CAF) is proud to open registration for the 2013 Owings Award for Environmental Excellence. This award recognizes projects by individuals or groups that demonstrate outstanding accomplishments in the reconciliation of nature and the built environment. The winning project will be able to tell a collaborative story of risk-taking and creative thinking that assessed the needs of the community and explored new territory with its integration of built structures and natural systems. While “excellence” is of course an important factor in the consideration of projects, the focus will be on how the “human footprint” integrates the built and natural systems into a seamless whole.

With the goal of “exploring, explaining and protecting the natural world,” the California Academy of Sciences, 2012 winner of the Owings Award, epitomizes the objectives of both the award and CAF, a nonprofit committed to advancing sustainable communities through research and education. Initiated in 1990 the Owings Award for Environmental Excellence honors an American Institute of Architects Gold Medalist and key contributor to the development of mid-20th century modern architecture in the United States. Nathaniel Owings (1903-1984), a founding partner of the firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM), was particularly concerned that man should live in harmony with nature and that he should build, in Owings’ own words, “in cooperation with nature—not against it.”

While the work recognized is not required to be a public project, it must respond or somehow contribute in a substantial way to the community in which it stands. It must demonstrate both thoughtful design and real sensitivity to the natural environment. Its scale should be significant enough to promote positive change – a game changer within its regional context. An Abstract is required to provide an overview of the project, its goals and why it would merit the Owings Award for Environmental Excellence. In addition, a Project Description section includes questions aimed at clarifying a project’s compelling ‘story’ – What makes it great?

Collaborative projects are highly encouraged and teams are asked how they addressed challenges by taking risks. Eligible projects include completed individual buildings or groups of buildings, sustainable designs, civic spaces, parks and natural environments. Implemented master plans and other forms of environmental design are welcomed as well. The award may honor a singular accomplishment or a series of contributions. Either the project was built in California, or the work was completed by at least one professional based in California. Projects should have been completed within the last 5 years and will be judged on quality, not volume. .

Registrations to enter the Owings Award for Environmental Excellence competition should be completed online by Monday, June 24, 2013. Submissions should follow the posted guidelines and should be uploaded online by Monday, July 8, 2013.

The Owings Award’s jury will convene in San Francisco on Friday, July 19, 2013. The jury features Will Bruder, FAIA, Principal of Will Bruder Architects; Kira Gould, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, Director of Communications at William McDonough + Partners; Kurt Hunker, FAIA, Director of Graduate Programs at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design; Mia Lehrer, FASLA, Founding Principal of Mia Lehrer + Associates; and Martha Welborne, FAIA, Executive Director of Countywide Planning at LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

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