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Peek Inside the Winners of the 2013 AIA Housing Awards

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Photos: Will Austin/AIA

Last week, the American Institute of Architects announced the winners of the 2013 AIA/HUD Secretary Housing Awards, to honor "the best in housing design and promote the importance of good housing as a necessity of life, a sanctuary for the human spirit and a valuable national resource." High-minded ideals aside, the winners are all drop-dead gorgeous examples of contemporary architecture, starting with the island retreat known as Eagle Ridge (above). Set on Orcas Island, the largest of Washington's San Juan Islands, the modest home was designed by Gary Gladwish Architecture for a client who desired an "open, simple, low- maintenance design that emphasized and complemented nature." Using humble and earthy materials—salvaged barn wood, rusted steel, and stone found on site—the architects crafted a streamlined space with a glass corner wall that offers uninterrupted views through the pines to the water.

Photos: Nic Lehoux/AIA

? Houses perched on ridges seem to have done quite well this year. The Halls Ridge Guest House, part of a larger estate in the Santa Lucia Preserve near Carmel, Calif., was described as "an incredible house," by one of the jurors, and rightly so. Enjoying stunning views of the countryside, this Bohlin Cywinski Jackson-designed structure is distinctly modern in form and traditional in materials, employing an indoor-outdoor stone wall that anchors the interior space while providing a variegated backdrop for the austere swimming pool area. "Passive design elements" like the overhanging roof and giant sliding doors limit the amount of energy necessary to cool the house during California's scorching summers.

Photos: Steve Mundinger/AIA

? Where the previous two award winners opted to bring nature in, using broad expanses of glass, the House in the Mountains, built in Colorado by the architects at GLUCK+, allows nature to extend on top of the structure itself, in the form of a green roof with plantings to match the surrounding alpine meadows. The "annual energy consumption of the house is 32 percent less than its average counterpart," thanks to a solar thermal heating system and solar panels incorporated into the facade of the house. The three-bedroom house also incorporates entertaining features like an outdoor movie screen and a heated swimming pool that can be used even on chilly Rocky Mountain nights.

Photos: Patrick Wong/Casey Dunn/AIA

? The jury took a liking to houses with a view this year, as the Lake View Residence in Austin, Texas makes abundantly clear. Blessed with views of Lake Austin and the Colorado River, this 5,900-square-foot family home has ultra-modern guts to match its minimalist facade, with "geothermal HVAC systems, a photovoltaic array, reflective TPO roofing, cellular foam insulation, tankless water heaters, and FSC-certified and reclaimed woods," while numerous skylights help to reduce the need for artificial lighting. Alterstudio Architecture sited the Lake View House beneath a canopy of old growth trees, to further shade the property from the harsh Texas sun.

Photos: David Sundberg/Esto/Ruggero & Valentina Vanni/Vanni Archive/Dattner Architects /AIA

? The sole 2013 winner in the multi-family category is Via Verde, an innovative affordable housing complex in the Bronx. Designed by a pair of firms, Dattner Architects and Grimshaw Architects, the varied mixed-use project incorporates "a 20-story tower, a 6- to 13-story midrise duplex apartment component, and 2- to 4-story town houses," all located on a former brownfield. Highlights include a terraced roof garden that collects rainwater and mitigates the "urban heat island effect." Power for lighting in the common areas is provided by solar panels, part of the reason that the project is on track to receive LEED Gold certification.

Photos: Benjamin Benschneider/AIA

? The project known, rather generically, as West Campus Housing - Phase I won in the Specialty Housing category. A new dorm complex for the University of Washington campus, this five-building, 1,650-bed project was designed by Mahlum Architects. Aimed at seamless integration with the surrounding community, the firm positioned the ground-floor areas as public retail and dining, with a "116-seat restaurant, 7,000-square-foot grocery store, café, conference center, academic support center, health and wellness center, and two retail spaces," plus two new public open spaces in the courtyards formed by the buildings.

· The American Institute of Architects Select Six Recipients for the 2013 Housing Awards [AIA]
· Eagle Ridge [AIA]
· Halls Ridge Guest House [AIA]
· House in the Mountains [AIA]
· Lake View Residence [AIA]
· Via Verde [AIA]
· West Campus Housing [AIA]