When Christopher Warren, AIA, founder and principal of the Warren Office for Research and Design, (WORD), received a call last summer from the AIA California Council informing him that he was the recipient of not one but two 2016 Design Awards, his first comment was, “Are you sure?”
When what was, as he referred, a way to “practice the marketing muscles,” transformed into awards, and once he accepted the news that the AIACC was indeed sure, he was happily beside himself. “I thought it was a mistake,” he remembered, chuckling.
According to the 2016 jury, this call was most definitely deserved. “I really like how the building seems to interact and play with the corner here. And all components get along,” said one juror, referring to the Little Ground Cafe. Another said, of the Shoreheights Remodel, “A remodel of this nature is hard to execute well, and yet that is exactly what was done here. Some really subtle and sharp, smart moves.
The awards WORD received should serve as an example that design excellence is found in small practices as well as large. Warren, who has experience in both the small and large firms, possesses a unique insight into the human experience. It is just one of his attributes which separates and catapults his designs into the category of exceptional. And, Warren harnessed his insight and perception early on—from his beginnings to his time working with Thom Mayne, FAIA at Morphosis, and then eventually to his own practice. “I believe that people like to feel connected to anything, be it nature, other people, or even architecture on an intimate level. For me, this is not an issue of scale. I began my career working with Morphosis on very large projects. Within those works there are always a multitude of experiences offered to those who come in contact with them. Inevitably, in any successful project, be it small or large, there will be an area, a material quality, or an architectural situation that will connect with someone on a visceral, personal level.”
Well stated, Mr. Warren. And that is exactly what the jury saw.
For those interested in examples of award-winning submittals, you can find them here.
Also, be sure to look for more insight into Warren’s design world as he takes over the AIACC Instagram account beginning May 20.