Midwest Home's AIA Mingler May 2

I realized a few things after Midwest Home’s American Institute of Architects Mingler, held on a beautiful 80-degree evening this past Wed. (May 2) at 514 Studios in northeast Minneapolis.

I realized that architects are stylish, architects are funny, and architects support one another.

Nearly 150 architects, industry professionals who work with architects, and friends of architects, carved out a few hours to celebrate and socialize at 514 Studios, a unique warehouse space decorated with white lights, candles glowing in glass jars, and vases of colorful yellow flowers. A large garage door was open to let attendees enjoy the sunshine after days of rain.

The mingler was focused on honoring the 2012 “Architect of Distinction” award recipient Sarah Nettleton, AIA (Sarah Nettleton Architects) and the “Emerging Talent of the Year” award recipient Bryan Anderson, SALA Architects. The 2012 jury who—after much deliberation—chose the winners included Phillip Koski, AIA, Koski Architecture; past “Emerging Talent” recipient Meghan Kell Cornell, AIA, Kell Architects; Katherine Solomonson, architecture professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design; and Rachel Hutton, an editor with Midwest Home. Criteria for the awards are that the Architect of Distinction must have been licensed for more than 15 years; the Emerging Talent less than 10, both dedicated to the excellence of single-family homes.

Since 1989, Sarah has been combining architecture with landscape design to “build with nature” at her firm. She has also taught sustainable design at the U of M’s School of Architecture/College of Design and Hamline’s Master of Liberal Arts Program, lectures around the country, and has appeared on the Nate Berkus Show, Oprah & Friends Radio, and local TV programs.

According to Sarah’s blog, “I am an architect and author, a teacher and a pioneer in sustainable design. My passion for my work began growing up in New England with a father who straightened nails in order to reuse them as a matter of principle. Also from my childhood, I remember such simple pleasures as a summer screen porch and fresh vegetables from the garden. As a designer, I create spaces and places that optimize the joys of daily life. I use the phrase “Green design” to mean several things: green as in gardens and landscape, green as in sustainable buildings and green as in native landscape restorations. These three “Green” approaches are aspects of many of my designs. For me, architecture extends beyond buildings to gardens, woodlands and the land that feeds us. Good design connects the senses of smell, touch, sound and the processes of nature. My quest is to create architecture that is elegant in its simplicity and rich in its reflection of the people who use it. This balance simplicity and pleasure is what I like to call ‘the Luxury of Enough.’” [Sarah wrote a book in 2006, The Simple Home: The Luxury of Enough.]

The jury admired her attention to detail, natural light, and building form on one project (the River Bluff House, a self-sufficient farmhouse), and commented that a home carefully sited in the foothills of Wyoming could easily have been built today, rather than 20 years ago.

When Sarah received her award, she was asked to explain her approach to sustainability. Her matter-of-fact response was, “Why do it any other way?”

Bryan Anderson received his bachelor of architecture from North Dakota State University, where he was awarded both the American Institute of Architects Henry Adams Medal for excellence in the study of architecture, and the Peter F. McKenzie Memorial Foundation Award for outstanding undergraduate thesis. According to the SALA website, “Bryan infuses projects large and small with inventive solutions and environmental responsibility across a spectrum of styles. Influenced by a passion for modernism and the rural vernacular outbuildings of his past, Bryan particularly enjoys designing structures that reduce size, minimize structure and highlight simple, modular building components for dramatic effect and spatial comfort. Bryan hones his design ideology over long distance runs and bicycle commutes.”

The jury described asepcts of Bryan’s projects as “unconventional in their form and shape, but work well together to create a sense of home.”

When Bryan received his award, he was jokingly asked, “What will you do to become Architect of Distinction in the future?”

He responded without missing a beat, “By looking around this room, it’s obvious that I need to write a book.”

For more information about the awards, visit AIA Minnesota.

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