Each year at PCBC, Lisa and Shane Parrish of Peter M. Mayer productions stage the Gold Nugget Awards. For 52 years, this occasion has celebrated the resilient fusion of design, building, community planning and development, and clients and customers. This year was no different, and what captured this year's proceedings in a flash for me was a single tableau on stage and one sound bite.
For a good run of years, the work of several architect teams—Bassenian Lagoni, Danielian Associates, Robert Hidey, KTGY, and Woodley Architectural Group—has cropped up among the grand and merit award winners in the residential for-sale categories. Mike Woodley's gangly stride to the stage is now familiar, and this year his team took top honors in the 2,500-to-2,900-square-foot single-family detached home category for its work on Vue, Plan Three, the Infinity Home Collection series at Stapleton in Denver.
Woodley, Infinity Home Collection general manager Dave Steinke, and a couple of "next generation" Woodley associates were on stage for their close-up moment, and Woodley says, "We did Vue Plan Two and it worked, and Dave said to me, ‘Let's do this again,' and I said, ‘No, let's do something different.'"
What comes of initially differing perspectives, points of view, interests, financial stakes, senses of possibility, and hunches about what will and won't work are moments that bring all of these threads of difference together. Builder, architect, planner, municipal official, client, customer—all get something they value from the process. And, as it did in this instance and happens so frequently, it starts with somebody saying, "No, let's do something different."
In the case of Vue, Plan Three, the Gold Nugget judges were particularly impressed with how a sub-3,000-square-foot home could "live large" by subtracting the meaningless—rooms people don't use—and adding the meaningful—flow, natural light, and connectedness among the defined identities of kitchen, living, and dining areas. Material choices and palette define and "break down" the two-story massing to sculpt the exterior into a warm newness.
The ideas are new. The values—humanness, warmth, light, a balance of protection and relatedness—are timeless. The Gold Nugget Awards represent a fraction of all the amazing narratives going on these days that bring divergent, even diametrically oppositional, forces into a state of balance and cooperation, if only for an instant. Every time there's a spark of "No, let's do something different," there's an occasion for this type of breakthrough.
And in one moment after another at the Gold Nugget Awards in San Diego, on commercial projects, multifamily projects, affordable projects, mixed-use, attached and detached, the narratives were the same: widely different interests would need to merge so that otherwise impossible projects become possible in the realest of everyday circumstances. These narrative plot lines more often than not involve big personalities, big egos, powerful players, and a host of stubborn, daunting issues, each succumbing to a whole that works.
If the Woodley sound bite was timeless, the tableau in which he uttered it also etched itself into the classy fabric of the evening. Joining Woodley on stage was that next generation of associates from his firm, and to stage left were the next generation of Parrishes who've become an essential part of the essence of the evening. And among many of the builders and architects who also were in the San Diego Convention Center ballroom were the next generations of each of those organizations. Some of them are the next generation in family names, and some of them are descendants and successors of a different order. All of them offer new ideas and timeless values.
"Let's do something different" moments are what burst myths and false assumptions about where trends are leading, and what old practices those trends will leave behind. New ideas can awaken timeless values anywhere.