If anything positive came out of the economic downturn that has shadowed our R+D Awards since its inaugural year, it is the sense of renewal and opportunity that is steadily permeating design communities. With their own stories of trail blazing behind and before them, this year’s judges—Jing Liu, Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA, and Bill Zahner, Hon. AIA (see their bios below)—were primed for the task of reviewing the more than 100 entries submitted to this year’s program.

In identifying the eight winners, which include one best or “First Award,” the jury felt a responsibility to celebrate the current culture of exploration in architecture, in which, as Liu said, “game-changing moments can come from grassroots efforts.” The jurors were also compelled by the shrewd use of modern technology to resurrect endangered craft, the societal benefits of a high-performance affordable housing unit, and the professional community building enabled by an app (the first purely digital recipient of an R+D Award).

For an industry that is becoming ever more responsive, tech-savvy, and open-source, these winners exemplify the range of what’s possible through tireless research and development.

To see all of the winners of the 2013 R+D Awards, click here.


Lawrence Scarpa
A fixture of the Los Angeles architecture scene, Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA, is a co-founder and principal of Brooks + Scarpa, the successor firm to Pugh + Scarpa, which was the recipient of the 2010 AIA Firm Award. Scarpa’s design work has long been rooted in placemaking. Since 2009, he has served on the Mayor’s Advisory Council for City Design in Los Angeles. Scarpa, who holds a Bachelor of Design and an M.Arch from the University of Florida, has lectured and taught at numerous universities around the country. He has also held visiting professorships at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, the University of Southern California, and the University of Michigan.

Jing Liu
A principal at Brooklyn, N.Y.–based Solid Objective-Idenburg Liu (SO-IL)—which we profiled here—Jing Liu holds an M.Arch from the Tulane University School of Architecture. The “idea-based practice,” as Liu and partner Florian Idenburg call it, is known for work that ranges in scale from master plans to art installations. Recent projects include the Frieze Art Fair in New York and the Kukje Gallery in Seoul, South Korea. SO-IL, partnering with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, also won the recent competition to design the forthcoming UC Davis art museum. Liu is on the faculty at Parsons The New School for Design, and teaches at Columbia University’s Graduate School for Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.

Bill Zahner
Since 1989, Bill Zahner, Hon. AIA, has been president and CEO of A. Zahner Co., the Kansas City, Mo.–based architectural metals company. Under his direction, his family’s business has become known for collaborating with numerous architects and firms around the world, including Herzog & de Meuron and Frank Gehry, FAIA, to realize metal skins and building products that push the envelope of material and manufacturing science. Zahner is the author of two books, including Architectural Metals: A Guide to Selection, Specification, and Performance (Wiley, 1995). He is currently serving on the 2013 Manufacturing Council of the International Trade Administration, to which he was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.