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Last week on Thursday Will Bruder won top honors at the 2011 Residential Architect Leadership Awards Luncheon held at the Biltmore Resort & Spa as part of the Reinvention Conference sponsored by Hanley Wood.

There were three awards for residential architecture given out at the luncheon, one for Rising Star, which was given to a firm out of New Haven, Connecticut called Gray Organschi, one for Top Firm, awarded to Marlon Blackwell and Meryati Johari Blackwell from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the most prestigious, the Hall of Fame award given to our very own Phoenix-based Will Bruder + Partners.

The most delectable part of the luncheon was not the food, but the slides that were shown from each of the firm’s work. Here’s a glance…

The Tennis House by Gray Organschi:

Photo from Gray Organschi website.

The L-Stack House by Marlon Blackwell Architect:

Photo from Marlon Blackwell Architect website.

and the Hill/Shepherd house by Will Bruder + Partners:

Photo from Residential Architect magazine.

I also enjoyed listening to a panel discussion of the winners that followed. A very important question and one that I myself have wondered about was asked by the moderator from Residential Architect magazine: What is the relevancy of jewel-box residential architecture, jewel-box meaning the very expensive, large custom homes for which the three firms were given awards.

Elizabeth Gray said that these extremely expensive, large custom homes are a testing ground for experimental design, which is true. The clients of jewel-box homes have money to spend and want excellent, original and cutting-edge design that they can show off to the Joneses. Architects couldn’t ask for a better playground to flex their creative muscles.

But Ms. Gray’s partner Alan Organschi, pointed out that jewel-box houses are a waste of resources and that they, as a firm, coach their clients to recognize that and make wiser and more responsible decisions with the land, money and materials available to them.

Mr. Bruder added that really excellent homes don’t have to be extremely large and wasteful. In fact, he advises his residential clients to choose quality of quantity.

The reason I wanted to write about these awards is not only to show you what extraordinary and exquisite residential architecture looks like today, but also to celebrate our architectural heritage here in Phoenix, of which Will Bruder is a founder and leader.

Arizona has been taking it on the chin as of late, with the recent book by Andrew Ross which calls Phoenix the least sustainable city in the world, circus-like State politics and a host of other negative media. But we have a lot to celebrate here in Arizona, and one thing is the innovative, unique, beautiful and regionally-appropriate architecture that is a product of world-class architects such as Mr. Bruder himself, Eddie Jones, Rick Joy, Weddle Gilmore and John Kane.

We have in our state architecture the likes of which you won’t see anywhere else in the world, and one of the reasons is because our climate is so unique. The rugged and raw architectural masterpieces that result from our Mars-like topography and climate are called works of the Arizona School by Reed Kroloff and are something to embrace, celebrate and shout from the rooftops about. That’s why I’m so proud that Residential Architect recognized on a national level one of the originators of the Arizona School with their top honors in last week’s awards luncheon.

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One Response

  1. Steve Weiss says:

    Yup, there are many reasons to live here, and heck, if it was easy and everything was already done we’d just be bored, right? 🙂

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