Copyright Art Center College of Design

Two different California architects won P/A awards for the same project: the Art Center College of Design.

In 1970, Honnold, Reibsamen & Rex received an award for its modernist hilltown, with studios, housing, and support spaces in a concrete structure that stepped down its sloping Los Angeles site. That design (top right) revealed the strengths and weaknesses of terraced schemes: ample outdoor space and views, but excessive circulation space, building perimeter, and site coverage.

The college then switched locations—to Pasadena—and architects: Craig Ellwood Associates, which won an award in 1976 for the design that eventually was built (above). Ellwood’s firm packed the college—minus housing—into a 165,000-square-foot Miesian megastructure whose center section, with exposed steel trusses, spans an arroyo and bridges dramatically over the entry drive. Touting the efficiency of the design—within budget at $30 per square foot—the architects alluded to the previous award winner, whose “ratio of corridor to work area was unrealistic, expensive, difficult to service, and hindered communication.”

And yet, Ellwood’s Miesian rectangle, for all of its efficiency, flexibility, and elegant glass-and-steel detailing, also has its downsides, with many of the classrooms and studios having no natural light, and the circulation seeming circuitous in some places. The two Art Center awards, however, exemplify the debate at the time between those who favored more romantic, historically allusive architecture and those who adhered to more rational, machine-like Modernism. The latter won out at the Art Center College of Design, although the former ultimately prevailed.

Copyright Art Center College of Design

1970 P/A Awards Jury
C. William Brubaker
Bruce Graham
William Mouton
Robert Venturi
Thomas Vreeland 1976 P/A Awards Jury
Donald Appleyard
Arthur Cotton Moore
W. Russell Ellis
Gary Hack
Cesar Pelli
Raquel Ramati
Stanley Tigerman
William Turnbull