The Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded student designs at their recent event that also showcased unbuilt projects. All three student winners are from the UT Austin School of Architecture.

The image above is from Krishnan Mistry and Alison Walvoord and titled “A Home is Not a House.” Instead of being a bland suburban tract development full of homes called Normandy, Mayfair, and Shenandoah, Mistry and Walvoord went back in time to centuries-old Italian villages (at least in my mind). Picture those old villages clinging to hilltops or craggy peaks with homes clustered together to form a community. That’s what this project reminds me of. While the geography surrounding Austin isn’t as romantic or jagged, this team took a smallish tract of sloping land and used it to recreate this ancient type of community.

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Critic’s Choice Award: Magnolia Service Station – Not Really “Unbuilt”

Back in May, the day I.M. Pei died, the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) held their annual awards for unbuilt projects along with a separate student design award. As I walked around the entries with our founder and publisher, Candy Evans, I began to notice that the buildings I liked most were almost always outside Dallas and Texas as a whole. You see, the awards are for Dallas-based design firms’ work, not necessarily projects in the Metroplex.

So yes, I could go on a riff about bland Dallas architecture, but you’ve heard that before. The “Aha!” moment was that Dallas-based architectural firms were capable of producing interesting work – it’s their Dallas-area clients that are to blame for lacking in imagination and fortitude. This means that my series “Why Can’t Dallas Have Nice Things” is a larger indictment of local developers than it is of local architects.

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