January 9, 2009
by Canadian Architect
Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects has received the American Institute of Architects’ 2009 AIA Architecture Firm Award. The distinction is based on the Seattle firm’s 35 years of consistently excellent work, including its seamless blending of architecture, art, and craft; community involvement; attention to sustainable design; and nurturing of in-house talent.
The annual AIA Architecture Firm Award – often referred to as the “Firm of the Year” award – is the highest honour the AIA bestows on an architecture firm and recognizes a practice that consistently has produced distinguished architecture for at least 10 years.
Principals Jim Olson (FAIA), Rick Sundberg (FAIA), Tom Kundig (FAIA), Scott Allen (AIA), Kirsten Murray (AIA), and Alan Maskin are known for their hands-on project involvement; deliberate efforts to share their knowledge with firm members, students, interns, and clients; and intense collaboration with artists and craftspeople.
The firm’s commitment to sustainable design finds its roots in the firm Olson founded in Seattle in 1971, which he based on two principles: buildings can serve as a bridge between nature and culture, and inspiring surroundings have a positive effect on people’s lives. Carrying that concept into the firm, the principals remain committed to a democratic and populist office culture.
Known primarily for their integration of modern forms that blend artfully into remote, natural settings of the Pacific Northwest, the firm’s work is also adept at creating dynamic urban environments.
“Their residential work in particular reveals a fascination with craft and the material properties of architecture,” wrote Mark Robbins, dean of the Syracuse University School of Architecture in a recommendation letter. “Levers, racks, gears, outsized hinges, and wall-size shutters improbably glide into place to frame sublime natural vistas. The dual American obsession of industry and nature are summed up immaculately in the smallest folly.”
Among more than 65 regional and national awards winners are: the Delta Shelter, Washington State, 2008 AIA National Honor Award; the Brain, Seattle, 2004 AIA National Honor Award; Chicken Point Cabin, Northern Idaho, 2003 AIA Northwest Region Honor Award; Frye Art Museum, Seattle, 1997 AIA Seattle Honor Award; and the Pike & Virginia Building, Seattle, 1979 AIA Seattle Honor Award.
Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects will be presented with the Firm Award during the American Architectural Foundation’s Accent on Architecture Gala in February. Previous recipients include Leers Weinzapfel, Moore Ruble Yudell, Muphy/Jahn, and KieranTimberlake. In recognition of Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects legacy to architecture, their name will be chiselled into the granite Wall of Honor in the lobby of the AIA headquarters in Washington, DC.