The talent of Birmingham’s architects is evident in not only our city but also in locations across the globe. From the revitalization of downtown buildings to contemporary homes to historic properties and new classical designs, our city’s architects work their magic creating commercial buildings and residential properties in Birmingham and beyond. Each year, our local American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapter hosts Design Awards to celebrate and recognize excellence in architectural design. These awards increase awareness of outstanding architects while also honoring architects, clients, consultants, and contractors who work together to improve the built environment.
Here, we feature the top two winners in the residential category, along with three more of our favorite entries to celebrate these talents and their amazing gifts.
Opened & Elevated
ArchitectureWorks reimagined a dilapadated 1950s home in Leeds to create an airy, modern masterpiece. With an intent on maintaining as much of the original footprint and existing exterior brick as possible, Jay Pigford and Olivia Backer with ArchitectureWorks reworked spaces to open the house up and out. A new mono-slope roof creates a spacious screened porch where there once was a carport. The new porch connects to the living room via a large bifold glass partition, allowing the interior and the exterior to live as one. A drastic elevation change at the front of the house was addressed through an ample entry stair that rises through large weathering steel planters, connecting the upper yard and screened porch to a new butterfly-roof carport.
The interior palette brings warmth throughout the space with exposed cedar structure, rift-sawn white oak floors, and unlacquered brass accents. Modest bedrooms on the upper level feel larger thanks to a new roof offering high ceilings and generous views.
The enclosed square footage remained virtually unchanged. Existing masonry bearings can still be read in the elevation where new tall windows break past the plane into new siding that rises to meet the roof.
Architect: ArchitectureWorks, Jay Pigford and Olivia Backer
Contractor: Brad Sparks Construction
A new home in Alys Beach, Florida, cues Mediterranean, Gothic, and modern architectural influences. Renowned for an aesthetic reminiscent of the iconic whitewashed homes of Greece, Alys Beach is carefully curated for maximum luxury with minimal footprint. This confluence of size and vernacular pushes creative boundaries to blur the line between indoor and outdoor living.
Designed as a vacation residence for an owner primarily living in the American West, this home embraces the global architectural influences of Alys Beach in a modern aesthetic. The white stucco and contrasting black and brass accents of the exterior are effortlessly mirrored in the plaster interior with blackened steel and brass details. Striking board-formed concrete walls in the living room and courtyard, separated only by a wall of glass that is easily slid aside, further dissolve the distinction between indoors and out. Subtle elegance flows throughout the home in details like Gothic arches, sculpted fireplaces, marble accents, and the cross-vault bedroom ceiling. The exposed structure of the stair and catwalk, along with the steel and fluted glass doors in the kitchen and baths and the Japanese-style shou sugi ban walls, add contemporary flair.
Outside, a floating staircase links the courtyard to the pool, which overflows and cascades down the marble slab to the basin below to create a visual and aural feature. All three levels of exterior spaces integrate natural elements of water and vegetation, welcoming the indoor-outdoor lifestyle for which this community is known.
Architect: Jeffrey Dungan Architects
Team: Jeff Dungan, Joel Solomon, Michelle Cone
Rocky Mountain Refuge
A Colorado mountain house nestles into the landscape and stands as a home for generations to come.
Situated on 8,500 acres at an elevation of 8,200 feet, this family house had to be constructed to withstand high winds, winter snow, and abundant sunshine in summer. To meet the demands of the environment, the home utilizes Colorado brownstone, a strong material with a patina that melds with the surrounding landscape. Staggered rooflines and multiple roofing materials ensure that the house will safely shed the winter snowpack. Inside, exposed rafters, steel windows, and a stone fireplace bring elements of the exterior architecture to the interiors.
Outdoor living areas provide views of the valley below. The great room features a kitchen designed to seamlessly blend into the living area on one end, while a corner fireplace and sliding pocket doors on the other end blur the line between inside and out. Master craftsmen were employed throughout the project to create custom elements and applications in multiple areas.
Architect: Jeffrey Dungan Architects
Team: Jeff Dungan, Michelle Cone, Alyssa Webster
A new house on the shores of Lake Martin blends effortlessly into its natural surroundings.
This fluidly linear lake house virtually floats on the water that surrounds it. Deep-covered porches provide shaded outdoor living and dining areas for a lifestyle that flows between the home and the lake. The design of the house plays on the dichotomies of light and dark, small and grand. Inside, custom black paint and charcoal-stained cypress create an envelope of coolness and modernity. Tall steel windows and more sandstone in the great room tie the interior to the exterior, while the softness of the plaster in the primary bedroom creates a soothing environment.
Historic Bungalow Renovation
The renovation of a 1925 bungalow in Avondale brought out the best of its intrinsic character while upgrading it for modern living.
This interior renovation required a subtle approach that addressed issues of functionality and lack of light while complementing the existing architectural character. Reimagining the home for a single individual rather than a family, Cristi and Mark Pledger transformed the structure from the more typical compartmentalized bungalow arrangement to a more purposeful and practical layout. Creating a primary bedroom suite and opening the kitchen up to more light were two of the most important directives.
The kitchen was fully gutted and a larger opening to the back entry was constructed, allowing for a new breakfast room and borrowed light from two exposures. Pairs of French doors were removed, closets reconfigured, and a new bath was created—all helping to take advantage of borrowed light. Custom trim was utilized in conjunction with typical “craftsman-style” casings and cabinetry panels to create a seamless transition.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is the professional organization for architects. The organization offers education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach. Locally, the AIA Birmingham chapter has 330 members. aiabham.org