Architects are no strangers to competition. It is at the very core of every studio survived, every RFP completed, and every commission won. So when I say that competition for this year’s Residential Architect Design Awards was incredibly fierce, I don’t do so lightly. When the jury—which included Cary Bernstein, AIA, Gregory Hoss, AIA, Joel Sanders, AIA, and Josh Shelton, AIA—convened in our office in Washington, D.C., there were nearly 700 entries on the table before them. When they parted at the end of two days, only 26 emerged victorious. These winners represent some of the best residential architecture that North America has to offer—from luxurious custom beachside estates, to net-zero prefab infill, to high-density affordable living units.

How are people living differently today, and how is the design of housing changing as a result? In discussing this year’s Residential Architect Design Award submissions, the jury returned time and time again to explorations of new ideas about domesticity. While the projects on the following pages do look familiar in some ways, the jurors felt that each in its own way pushed the boundaries of what has come before. The assembled winners represent the hopefulness of a market that is recovering, if not recovered, and transitioning, if not transformed. Such are the beginnings of a revolution in the definition of “home.” It will be exciting to watch.

April Greer

Jury (left to right):

Joel Sanders, AIA  
Joel Sanders Architect

Sanders studied at Columbia University, receiving both a B.A. and M.Arch., and has continued his presence in academia with posts at Princeton University and Parsons The New School for Design. In addition to running his eponymous New York practice, Sanders currently teaches at Yale University, where, as a professor of architecture, he led a studio with landscape architect Diana Balmori, leading to a co-edited book released in 2011, entitled Groundwork: Between Landscape and Architecture (The Monacelli Press).

Gregory Hoss, AIA 
David M. Schwarz Architects

Hoss earned a dual degree in architecture and civil engineering from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and has returned as an alumnus to serve on the school’s Design Council. After six years with HNTB, Hoss joined Washington, D.C.–based David M. Schwarz Architects, where he is now project manager and principal. Hoss is a regular contributor to the firm’s blog, Parchment: Writings on Architecture.

Cary Bernstein, AIA 
Cary Bernstein Architect
Bernstein studied philosophy and Russian literature at Dartmouth College prior to earning an M.Arch. from the Yale School of Architecture. She opened her own office in San Francisco in 1995, and has garnered commissions that include residential, commercial, healthcare, and arts-related projects in locations ranging from California to Taiwan. Bernstein also holds an adjunct professorship at California College of the Arts, and is former chair of SFMOMA’s A + D Forum.

Josh Shelton, AIA
El Dorado

Shelton received his B.Arch. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, before joining El Dorado in 1999. A principal at the Kansas City, Mo.–based firm since 2002, Shelton has served as principal-in-charge on projects such as the city’s National Center for Drug Free Sport. He also teaches studios at the University of Kansas School of Architecture, Design & Planning, and sits on the boards of several local arts councils including Art through Architecture, where he chairs the steering committee.