Washington, D.C. – December 12, 2013 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Board of Directors voted today for Eskew+Dumez+Ripple to receive the 2014 AIA Architecture Firm Award. The firm will be honored at the 2014 AIA National Convention in Chicago. Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR) are noted for rigorously crafting Modernism to repair, restore, and enhance the exceptionally unique cultural and historic context of New Orleans.
The AIA Architecture Firm Award, given annually, is the highest honor the AIA bestows on an architecture firm and recognizes a practice that consistently has produced distinguished architecture for at least 10 years.
Founded less than 25 years ago by Allen Eskew, FAIA, Steven Dumez, FAIA, and Mark Ripple, AIA, EDR’s success is derived from their commitment to build their firm’s culture around mentorship and the development of the next generation of architects. These efforts have earned them two AIA National Intern Development Program (IDP) Firm Awards.
For those unaware, Allen Eskew, FAIA, passed away earlier this week. See his obituary here. “This is incredibly bitter sweet,” said, Dumez. “Allen was tremendously proud of this nomination. We are grateful that we can reflect on what we have been able to accomplish.”
Just eight years ago, when the city was struck by Hurricane Katrina, EDR had 22 employees, but has since nearly doubled and has taken on an important role as civic leaders charged with repairing the wounded urban fabric of the city. Their efforts, like their Reinventing the Crescent: New Orleans Riverfront Development Plan, seek to build the city back better, recognizing that the violence of the storm laid bare many existing problems that were content to fester in the dark, unobserved.
“The firm’s active civic leadership provides a stimulus for thoughtful urban reconstruction as the city heals,” wrote Julie Snow, FAIA, in a letter of recommendation. “This kind of leadership demands a generosity of time, a patience for the public process, and a lack of self-interest that is worthy of recognition.”
EDR’s wide range of civic involvement is marked by its long-term patience and commitment. They have participated in a number of committees and initiatives intent on rebuilding New Orleans: the Bring New Orleans Back Commission Urban Planning Committee, the Sustainable Restoration Plan for the Holy Cross/Lower 9th Ward neighborhood, the New Orleans AIA Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT), the New Orleans Civic Center Planning Task Force, and more.
For all its formal Modernist motifs, smooth surfaces, and right angles, the architecture of EDR takes its strongest precedent from New Orleans’s nearly 300 years of architectural history. Vernacular, wide, expansive porches, bungalow shotgun houses, and industrial warehouse spaces are in its design genetic code. This intersection of old and new is a common theme in the firm’s use of materials. EDR is equally at home with contemporary components; glass curtain walls enriched by layers of sunscreens, or ghostly blue lighting emitted from cold cathode tubes. But they can also delight in low-tech, simple materials, crafting entire projects out of plywood, for example, meticulously and lovingly folded with a smart asymmetrically.
A few of their most notable projects include:
Reinventing the Crescent: New Orleans Riverfront Development Plan, a 2012 AIA Honor Award recipient that adds a series of public spaces and residences to a 6-mile stretch of the Mississippi River, re-urbanizing it, and re-connecting it to the city.
The Louisiana State History Museum in Baton Rouge, a faintly distorted cube that welcomes visitors with a large covered porch entry pavilion, framing exquisite views of Louisiana’s Art Deco state capitol.
930 Poydras Residential Tower in New Orleans, which groups public programs and amenities for this sleek, Modernist monolith together midway through the building in a “sky lobby” that slyly cantilevers out over the French Quarter.
The Make It Right L9 Prototype House in New Orleans, a breezy Modernist house that recalls vernacular shotgun bungalows, updated with solar water heaters, solar power collectors, a rain water cistern, and more sustainability and energy efficiency systems that can reduce operating costs, increasing affordability for low-income residents.
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple is the 51th AIA Architecture Firm Award recipient. Previous recipients of the AIA Firm Award include, VJAA (2012), BNIM (2011), Pugh + Scarpa (2010), Kieran Timberlake (2008), Muphy/Jahn (2005), Polshek Partnership (1992), Venturi, Raunch, and Scott Brown (1985), I.M. Pei and Partners (1968), and SOM (1962).
About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.