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2015 Brick in Architecture Award Winners Offer Sustainable Design

The Brick Industry Association (BIA)

Honoring outstanding design, the nine Best in Class winners from the 2015 Brick in Architecture Awards also exemplify the latest trends in fired clay brick. Founded in 1934, BIA is the nationally recognized authority on clay brick construction representing the nation’s distributors and manufacturers of clay brick and suppliers of related products.

BIA's premier annual awards honor outstanding, innovative and sustainable architecture that incorporates clay brick products as the predominant exterior building or paving material. The 46 winning projects spanned 21 states in all categories. 

"Fired clay brick is an abundant natural resource that offers the aesthetic flexibility to inspire stellar and sustainable design,” said Ray Leonhard, BIA president and CEO.

Best-in-Class Winner in Residential/Multifamily 

Creston Avenue Residence, a 10-story affordable housing project set among buildings that are 80 years older in the Bronx, New York.

Creston Avenue

The building is divided into three smaller masses, two separate brick sections and a main tower that is slightly set back and clad in metal. According to the architect, Magnusson Architecture & Planning, PC, the inset central portion includes the main entrance that mimics those of surrounding buildings. The brick sections are consistent in both material and proportion with the adjacent properties, but a tonal shift from warm red to an eggplant color, yields a less saturated surface. There are also setbacks at the sixth, ninth,10th floors. The metal panels that stretch over the middle and top of the building also lessen the apparent size, as they are light in color and read as comparatively light in weight.  

Best-in-Class Winner in Education/K-12 

Choate Rosemary Hall’s Lanphier Center for Mathematics and Computer Science in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Choate Rosemary Hall

Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects said their goal was to design a building that was deeply sympathetic to its context, but also evoked the innovative and future oriented curriculum inside. The choice of an Aspen White wirecut brick evolved from an extensive analysis of the site and campus architecture: a mix of primarily red brick buildings with smaller white-painted secondary buildings. Early massing studies in red brick were found to diminish the integrity and individuality of both Archbold Hall and the new building. The white brick ultimately harmonized Lanphier Center’s design with its landmark neighbors — the red brick Archbold Hall, I.M Pei Science Building, and the white brick and clapboard residences nearby. 

Best-in-Class Winner in Commercial/Over $10 Million 

Maryland House, a rest stop in Aberdeen, Maryland, approximately 24 miles north of Baltimore.

Maryland House

According to the architect, Ayers Saint Gross, simple brick architecture adapted to the open space needs of the facility. Food, retail, restroom and information facilities are integrated into a landscape with mature trees and plantings, rather than asphalt. The bold design responds to the scale and speed of the highway, the high number of anticipated users and yet create a memorable place associated with Maryland.

“We saw this project as a way to reinvent a long-standing American tradition, the highway travel plaza, while creating a modern building reflective of the unique culture of Maryland,” said architect Adam Gross. “We made sure the visitor experience remains paramount and the travel plaza is equally accommodating to a wide range of users — daily commuters, family vacationers, business travelers, truckers, tourists and others.”

Gross said that using brick allowed this vision to be achieved, greeting visitors with familiar, house-like gable forms. He said that brick was used in a contemporary way to create taut planes to work with modern usage of glass.

Best-in-Class Winner in Municipal/Government 

Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building

It is located in Dudley Square, a mass transit hub rich with culture and history. According to the architect, Sasaki Associates, the project was designed to unify three historic facades and anchor three corners of the triangular site in a seamless, well-conceived composition that could use the modern components to respond to the craftsmanship of the other facades. Using brick greatly assisted the goals to unify the existing portions of the facade. Brick allowed for a contextual, sinuous, modern response which spoke to craftsmanship, context and timelessness. 

Best-in-Class Winner in Residential/Single Family

Naylor Court Stables Rowhouses in Washington, D.C.

Naylor Court Stables Rowhouse

The enclave in a historic neighborhood was designed to resemble a turn-of-the-century equestrian stable with gated motor court and carriage homes. It is one of the few remaining “alley dwellings” left in the city today, dating back to the 18th century.

According to the architect, GPS Designs, a boxy design was chosen to emulate the clean, utilitarian look of the 1800s, achieved with modular brick. Architectural details include a meticulously designed brick cornice, a rebuilt alley with new brick and tying the brick used in the gated motor court wall to the brick used on the townhomes. The project also won two gold awards from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and two Great American Living awards.

Want more details on each project? Click here for a PDF of all winning projects.

The latest brick trends include:

  • Glazed brick walls with diverse and bright colors used alongside units with muted hues such as warm grays for a modern design aesthetic
  • Increasing textures, including sanded, artisan, wirecut and tumbled and papercut brick (during the manufacturing process, recycled paper is laid across the brick before it is cut to achieve a hand-molded texture and appearance)
  • Varying sizes of brick from traditional modular size brick to long thin brick to larger units for increased economy
  • Using brick as part of a mixed palette of materials
  • Special shapes and accents including arches, watertables, quoin corners, sills and copings
  • Renovations that maintain the original brick elements
  • Interior backdrops of brick including exposed walls for wherever natural style is desired
  • Interior monochromatic painted brick walls
  • Exposed brick walls adjacent to sleek, industrial interior finishes
  • Thin brick crafted from full-face brick

Made in America from abundant natural resources, brick’s benefits include virtually endless design flexibility through a growing palette of colors, textures and sizes; superior durability with a 100-year life span, low- to no-maintenance exteriors and superior wind resistance and savings on heating and cooling costs from exceptional thermal mass not found in lighter materials. Brick also offers a one-hour fire rating by itself — unlike other exteriors that need to incorporate fire-resistant materials in their wall systems.

Featuring Master Mason Bryan Light, BIA’s YouTube channel offers extensive videos on brick masonry techniques to help builders complete jobs faster, maximize work quality, reduce callbacks and increase profitability.