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This private residence in rural New Hampshire earned an AIA Citation Award for Dennis Mires, PA, The Architects, of Manchester. (JOHN W. HESSION)

Top Architecture

AIA names winners of Excellence in Design Awards


New Hampshire's architectural community celebrated extraordinary projects, excellence in professionalism, long-term achievement and talented upstarts Friday at the 2014 Excellence in Architecture Design Awards.

At its annual meeting at LaBelle Winery in Amherst, the American Institute of Architects New Hampshire Chapter (AIANH) recognized architecture that exemplifies excellence in overall design, including aesthetics, clarity, creativity, appropriate functionality, sustainability, building performance, and appropriateness with regard to fulfilling the client's program.

Selected from 33 submissions, nine projects were recognized at the awards program, now in its 30th year. Two buildings were also noted in the Annual People's Choice Awards, based on voting by the public.

The 2014 jury was comprised of representatives from Maryland's Chesapeake Bay area architecture community: Brad Hastings AIA, vice president of Becker Morgan Group Inc. Salisbury, MD; Dover, EI; and Wilmington, NC; Marta Hansen AIA, principal of Hansen Architects in Annapolis, MD; and Steven Kahle AIA, principal of SKA Studio, also in Annapolis.


Project: City of Manchester Police Department
Architect: Lavallee Brensinger Architects, Manchester.
Construction Manager: Harvey Construction Corp., Bedford.

Replacing its cramped, inefficient, and technology-challenged 1970s-era station, the new Manchester Police Station provides 21st century facilities for the next 40 years. Reflecting its diverse population and crime trends, Manchester's police force has grown in numbers, diversity, and technological sophistication. The new structure is accessible, adaptable, durable, energy efficient, and compliant with modern law enforcement standards.

Apart from its administrative spaces, the building accommodates community and training rooms, a 14-cell detention area, an evidence analysis and storage suite, a tactical firing range, and a state-of-the-art communications hub.

Balancing its civic role with security, the public facades juxtapose the city's historic red brick fabric with a random mosaic of glazing, obscuring the building's inner functions while opening the building interior to natural light and views. At the center of this mosaic, a balcony glows blue at night, a symbol of safety to a downtown-edge neighborhood in transition.

"This is a brilliant façade solution for both the function and context," jury wrote. "The uniformity of a police department and the various internal functions within are unified by the façade, and the bollards compliment and strengthen the it. The design skillfully considers that the police department must be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week."


Project: Peter T. Paul College of Business & Economics, University of New Hampshire, Durham.
Architect: Good Clancy, Boston.
General Contractor: PC Construction, So. Burlington, VT.
Landscape Architect: Carol R. Johnson Landscape Architects, Boston.

Located directly off Main Street at the historic center of the campus, this dramatic new business school has quickly become an epicenter for learning and collaboration among students and faculty across the campus. Simultaneously meeting the client's wish for a signature "UNH building," the west- and north-facing elevations are clad in traditional red brick, but with a stunning modern south-facing façade and courtyard.

Modern yet inviting, the south façade is layered in rich natural materials including brick, wood, glass, and beautiful slates. Behind this inviting glass and wood façade is the heart of the building, a two-story light-filled great hall with floor to ceiling maple wainscoting. This motif branches out to the variety of cutting-edge classrooms (problem-based learning, hospitality kitchen, auditorium), conference rooms, and three-floors of team rooms so popular they are filled with students from morning to night.

"This design is an exceptional response for the site and integrates well with the context," the jury wrote. "There is an expressive use of materials with varying textures, exceptional detailing, and wonderful orienting of spaces, all enhanced by natural light that enriches the interior. It seems like such a welcoming place."


Project: Norway Point, Lakes Region
Architect: Samyn-D'Elia Architects, P.A., Ashland.
Contractor: Cerutti Construction, Meredith.

While accommodating the required shoreline setbacks for this home on a Lake Winnipesaukee peninsula, the architect also addressed the client's desire to maximize lake views. A bowed elevation providing 120-degree views of the lake was adopted for the main living area and the master bedroom. Doors that open in the front and rear of the stone-floored garage allow this space to serve as a covered sitting porch and be a large "window" to the lake beyond.

The client's desire for a home that sits lightly on the land was achieved largely through attention to preserving and protecting the site's existing mature Red Pines, Mountain Laurels, rock features, footpaths, and beach. Exterior colors and materials were carefully selected as well, allowing the home to blend with its surroundings and preserving views from the lake of the site's natural cove and shoreline.

"The jury was extremely impressed with how well this house was integrated into the landscape, addressed setbacks, preservation, and views from the lake. It looks as if it has been there forever."


Project: Burr and Burton Academy Mountain Campus Academic Building, Peru, VT Architect/Builder: Bensonwood, Walpole.

Bensonwood designed and built this project for Burr and Burton Academy as an environmentally conscious building designed as a living classroom. The building, situated on a 100-acre parcel of woodland, is occupied by about 40 students and four faculty members and supports the mission of the Burr and Burton Mountain Campus program: to function as a catalyst for students' growth as individuals, community members, and citizens of a sustainable world. The design goal was not only to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum, Net-Zero status, but also to serve as a "teacher" for BBA students.

Designed and manufactured at the Bensonwood factory and then assembled on-site, it minimized disruption to the site's ecology. The architect was asked to connect to the site around an original building design, ensure it used minimum energy to reduce cost, design a shelter that stimulates thought about the local site and Vermont as a whole, and exhibit native building materials.

"This is a strong concept consistently carried through," the jury wrote. "The respect for the environment is as integral to the architecture as it is to the mission of the school. The jury appreciated how the structure, columns, and framing define the composition and are a metaphor for the forest setting."


Project Lighthouse Cove Cottage, Wolfeboro.
Architect: TMS Architects, Portsmouth,
General Contractor: Lovering Construction, Wolfeboro.

This cottage home is perched on the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee yet is located within walking distance of downtown Wolfeboro. The home looks easterly across the lake and is built on a gently rolling site that allows for a lakeside walkout lower level.

The house sits on a New Hampshire fieldstone base with the entire back of the home opening outwards to take advantage of the panoramic lake views. Generous use of windows and exterior decks allow the homeowners to access the small beach, fire pit, and dock on the water's edge.

The fieldstone foundation is carried into the interior fireplace in the great room, which extends vertically through the center of the home, capturing sunlight from clerestory windows. The exterior character of the house is meticulously detailed using wood columns, pilasters, brackets, wood shutters, deep fasciae, and projected rake and roof moldings.

"This is a skillfully crafted, exceptionally detailed, classic waterfront cottage. The landscape is well integrated with the shoreline," the jury wrote.


Project: Keene Family YMCA, Keene.
Architect: ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge, Cambridge, Mass.
General Contractor: The MacMillin Company, Keene.

Taking its cues from the historic farms that populate New England, the design of the new Keene Family YMCA fits comfortably within its rural landscape. The 86,300-square-foot facility includes a competition-size swimming pool and therapy pool, as well as a basketball court, an indoor track, a two-story climbing wall, gymnastics facilities, and squash and racquetball courts.

Designed with flexibility and functionality in mind, the facility also includes a lounge, café, and Childcare Center.

"The jury was impressed with the successful use of the pre-engineered steel building construction type. There is a strong use of elements and a composition that punctuates the box in artful places," the jury wrote. "The architects successfully worked within the restraints of a limited budget."


Project: Piedra Fina Restaurant, Marlboro.
Architect: Daniel V. Scully/Architects, Keene.
Contractor: Ingram Construction Corp., Swanzey.

Piedra Fina Restaurant in Marlboro, with its mid-century modern flair and cultural fusion of food from Venezuela, Cuba, and Miami, opened in October 2013. The project is a renovation of an existing building that had numerous partitions and walls and a misdirected entryway.

The architects took inspiration from early '50s car design, when side trims and two-tone paint livened up the bulking old-dog shapes of the late '40s. By the removal of several partitions and minor additions, the 2,250 sf first floor (designed originally for a printing facility) has been converted into a 61-seat restaurant/bar.

Unusual materials include glass and lights under a concrete counter top and an aluminum I-beam side trim, providing that '50s "zing." The reuse of this structure, along with other revitalization projects by the owners, Megatron Properties, has invigorated and enhanced the community.

"This project incorporates an historic form into a successful expression of roadside architecture where there is a signature element that is appropriate for a restaurant," the jury wrote. "The color and form are both attractive and traditional for both farm buildings and restaurants. The restraint of the interior design is also commendable."


Project: Private residence in rural New Hampshire
Architect: Dennis Mires, PA, The Architects, Manchester.
Construction Manager: North Branch Construction, Concord.

This contemporary take on the traditional organizing concept of a main house and connector barn commands the hill on this large parcel in rural New Hampshire. The stone cube and floating roof of the main house minimizes the footprint to preserve the existing landscape and maximizes the long views.

The shape, color, and orientation of the subordinate barn recalls New England barns, but at an inverted scale. The transparent connector provides an appropriate transition between the two forms and the different axis of each of the forms. The strong forms, color, and contemporary detailing provide a commanding focus in this rural landscape.

"The jury was impressed with the modern farmhouse aesthetic, the composition of objects in the landscape, and the clear use of the materials," the jury wrote.


Project: Manchester Community College Student Center
Architect: Lavallee Brensinger Architects, Manchester.
Construction Manager: Eckman Construction, Bedford.

Manchester Community College was constructed in 1965 as a technical trade school. The architecture was reflective of the era, utilizing low-sloped roofs over brick and glass walls found in nondescript school buildings ranging from kindergarten through higher education.

Additions that took place during the 1970s and through 2006 continued the original building language, but did not connect the spaces well. The population and programs within the college evolved over time, leading to the need for a new student center and visual change for the campus.

The mission was to design a meaningful student center where learners and educators of all ages are comfortable to collaborate and enjoy an informal interactive space, while bringing the image of the college into the 21st century. The result is a sophisticated academic image along Interstate 293 that links the disconnected existing space and creates an epicenter of student activity within the heart of the college.

"The strong interior design provides a dynamic environment with an appropriate variety of space types and scales," the jury wrote. "The project effectively expresses its role as a crossroads for student interaction."


Each year AIANH holds a People's Choice Awards program. The winners are selected from all of the submissions to the Design Awards program and are voted on through the AIANH website.

This year's winner among the residential projects was Ash Street Split, located in Portsmouth, and designed by McHenry Architecture of Portsmouth. The General Contractor was Pidela Corp., Goffstown.

In the commercial category, the Keene Family YMCA by Architectural Resources Cambridge was the winner.

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