Five years ago, when we held the first annual R+D Awards, our goal was to create a showcase for the often unsung work that architects and manufacturers put into the development of their projects and products. The economy was still largely booming, and R+D was quickly becoming the next frontier of architectural practice. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the heady days of prerecession development could not have continued unchecked for long. Today, budgets are smaller, and the carte given by clients is a little less blanche. But far from stifling innovation, hard times are forcing people to get creative.

This year’s jury—Julie Eizenberg, AIA, William Massie, and Sylvia Smith, FAIA—picked projects and products that answer real-world problems. They selected six awards and six citations, which range from a digitally fabricated straw yurt to a glass-block façade system that purifies water. The distinction that the jury made between the six awards and six citations wasn’t one of style or importance, but of the difference between whole systems and elements that are, as Smith puts it, “components to a thoughtfully designed building.” The jurors discovered that, despite the still-lingering crunch, research and development is still going strong. “When money’s tight,” Eizenberg says, invention doesn’t stop. Instead, it “comes from finding a cheaper way to do it.”

The Jury:

Credit: Mike Morgan

Sylvia J. Smith

Senior Partner
FXFowle As the senior partner in charge of the Cultural/Educational Studio at New York–based FXFowle, Sylvia J. Smith, FAIA, has overseen the adaptive reuse of the Lion House at the Bronx Zoo and the redevelopment projects at Lincoln Center (with Diller Scofidio + Renfro), including the renovation of Alice Tully Hall. Another of her Lincoln Center projects, the Hypar Pavilion Lawn and Restaurant, recently received an Honor Award for Architecture from the AIA New York Chapter. Before joining FXFowle in 1982, when the firm was known as Fox & Fowle, Smith earned her M.Arch. from the University of Virginia School of Architecture, and a bachelor of arts in studio art from Dickinson College.

Credit: Mike Morgan

William E. Massie

Head of Architecture Department
Cranbrook Academy of Art In addition to heading the architecture department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, William Massie serves as the Bloomfield Hills, Mich., institution’s architect-in-residence, and he retains his position as a tenured professor at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. Known for his research into digital information and computer applications in construction, Massie applied these principles to American House 08, his first in a series of 10 prefabricated houses, constructed entirely within his 12,000-square-foot studio. Massie and his eponymous firm have won awards for both design and research, including the Museum of Modern Art’s Young Architects Program in 2002.

Credit: Mike Morgan

Julie Eizenberg

Koning Eizenberg Architecture

Julie Eizenberg, AIA, co-founded Santa Monica, Calif.–based Koning Eizenberg Architecture with partner Hank Koning, FAIA, in 1981. In addition to serving as company president, she also acts as the principal-in-charge of architectural design and master planning. The firm has garnered more than 70 design awards, including an AIA Housing Award for the Hancock Mixed-Use Housing, a Rudy Bruner Gold Medal Award for Urban Excellence for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and the AIA California Council firm of the year award in 2009. The firm has also published two books, including Architecture Isn’t Just for Special Occasions (The Monacelli Press, 2006).