The grand opening of the Amant Art Campus in Bushwick, Brooklyn (the 2021 AN Best of Design Awards’ Project of the Year) took place on an idyllic Saturday in July. The sun was out but the air, vibrating in the mid-70s, was mild for summer in New York City. There would be a smattering of rain showers later that evening but as the party ramped up, the light was falling across Grand Street in such a way as to lend even that snaggletoothed stretch of auto repair shops, storage facilities, and working-class rowhouses an aura of glamor. This place, intensely gentrified despite its broken-down appearance, still isn’t where one might expect to find award-winning architectural design. But there, hidden behind a subdued facade that could just as easily be the front of a poultry plant, is to be found an essay on spatial and programmatic richness, the deft handling of humble materials, and effective, meaningful formal exploration.
Surprising discoveries such as Amant are a large part of what makes AN’s awards program so rewarding to produce and share with our audience. Here is a statement on the diverse and often unexpected realms where great architecture, great designers, and great products are appearing, across the North American continent and beyond. And this year represents an even richer portfolio of surprises with the addition of our Best of Practice Awards, in which our jury evaluated design firms from across the AEC spectrum on everything from quality of work to employee work/life balance.
Additional highlights for me include The Shelter Project, a resource-packed wooden bus stop featuring a solar-powered charging station, rainwater cistern, and community message board, and the student speculative project Area 10 that locates a museum and visitor center in the bottom of a giant crater made by nuclear bomb testing in the Nevada Desert, showing a way other than depression and anxiety to engage with the more terrifying aspects of the Anthropocene. To learn more about all the winners, pick up a copy of the Best of Design magazine, out now. —Aaron Seward
Brisbane Baylands Master Plan
OJB Landscape Architecture