Young, Emerging Philadelphia Architecture Firm Captures 5 Awards from American Institute of Architects

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October 2008 has been a big month for ISA, a young architecture office in Philadelphia that is helping to re-shape the City with its brand of green, modern architecture. The office took home 5 major awards from the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects including 3 Honor Awards for design, the Philadelphia Young Architect Award, and the Philadelphia Emerging Architecture Prize.

October 2008 has been a big month for ISA, a young architecture office in Philadelphia that is helping to re-shape the City with its brand of green, modern architecture. The office took home 5 major awards from the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects including 3 Honor Awards for design, the Philadelphia Young Architect Award, and the Philadelphia Emerging Architecture Prize.

The Honor Awards recognized three speculative projects that each embody ISA's approach to urbanism and sustainability. The award-winning projects ranged in scale and type including a small urban art gallery, a 40,000SF grocery store and a 1,000SF modern, green production housing solution known as the 100K House. The art building, called Gallery 220, proposed a sensitive strategy for a modern, glass box to co-exist with adjacent historic buildings and add new vitality to an emerging design district in Wilmington, DE. The supermarket was part of a program called Infill Philadelphia that asks designers to address difficult design problems to help jump-start challenging projects. The primary challenge here was an eccentric parcel geometry that also included a significant change in elevation across the site. Finally, the 100K House was recognized for its inventive response to changing market conditions and the affordable urban housing dilemma. With the developer Postgreen, ISA has designed a green, modern LEED for Homes Platinum house prototype which recently broke ground and will be constructed for less than $100,000.00.

The design awards jury, comprised of four architects from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, gave out 12 citations of which 3 were awarded to ISA. The dominance by one firm at the awards is unusual, but not completely unexpected. The office has won two other AIA recognitions in its young history including a pair of awards (the AIA Philadelphia Silver Medal in 2006 and an AIA Pennsylvania Honor Award in 2007) for its Sheridan Street Housing project a green, affordable housing development for North Philadelphia. This project broke ground in September and is being championed as an important demonstration of how a green, modern approach to design can be utilized as an affordable housing solution. Only KTA, last year's AIA National Firm of the Year, did better with 4 awards.

ISA, Interface Studio Architects, is a four-year old, seven-person design studio based in Philadelphia. The office is pursuing contemporary, energy-efficient projects for private developers and non-profit agencies. 2008 has been an important year for ISA as its first construction projects are reaching completion including a 10-unit multi-family condo building with as 3,500SF green roof. Brian Phillips, AIA, LEED AP is Principal of ISA and is a lecturer in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Young Architect Award was given to Daryn Edwards, AIA, LEED AP who joined ISA late last year and has committed substantial energy to teaching and advocacy in the local community. Mr. Edwards was President of the Board of the Philadelphia chapter of Habitat for Humanity in 2008. His commitment to social and green development issues has enhanced ISA's approach to solving challenging projects within the urban situation.

The Philadelphia Emerging Architecture Prize was awarded for the first time this year and ISA was co-recipient of the Award. The prize recognizes young firms (less than 12 years out of school) that exhibit a high potential to expand the design quality of the Philadelphia architecture community in the early stages of their practices. ISA delivered a lecture at the Philadelphia Art Alliance on October 22 and will open an exhibit on its work running from mid-November to mid-December at the Center for Architecture in Philadelphia.

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