Jim Weiker
| The Columbus Dispatch

A hotel, home and a “hut” are among seven buildings designed by central Ohio architectural firms recognized this week in the annual American Institute of Architects contest.

The buildings were chosen from 57 entries, and illustrate the breadth of work being done by Columbus-area architects and designers. This year’s winners, chosen by five members of the Philadelphia AIA chapter: 

• The “hut,” a 600-square-foot cabin in Belmont County designed by the Midland architectural firm, which has offices in Pittsburgh and Columbus, received an honor award in the “small project” category. 

The $125,000 cedar-clad box is fully off the grid, relying on solar power and collected rain water. The project, which was featured on the Discovery Network’s “Building Off the Grid” show, was praised by judges “for its simple elegance, intentional siting, and beautiful execution.”

• The 117,000-square-foot University of Cincinnati Health Science Building, designed by Moody Nolan in Columbus, received an honor award in the “large project” category. 

The $39 million project, which received LEED Gold status for its low environmental impact, was called “superbly executed from concept to execution,” by the jury, which added that “the project team executed the interior and exterior detailing with the utmost craft.”

• The 53,000-square-foot Bath & Body Works Research and Development Center in New Albany, designed by the Columbus firm WSA, received an honor award for interior architecture. 

Judges called the $7.1 million project “a compelling example of adaptive re-use and interior architecture” and particularly celebrated its effectiveness in connecting the building’s users.

• The 2,000-square-foot Mission Salon in Dublin, designed by Tim Lai AchitecT, received a merit award in the new category of “architectural detail.” 

The design relied on natural materials, restrained colors and light to create gender-neutral space. “The shape of natural light through the skylight transforms the found ‘strip mall’ condition,” wrote the judges, who called the space “radiant.” 

• The renovation of a 94,068-square-foot Short North building into the Graduate Columbus hotel, designed by Meyers+Associates, of Columbus, received a merit award in the “innovation technology” category for the striking interactive mural on the side of the building, which shows hummingbirds taking flight when viewed through an app. Meyers calls the mural the world’s largest “augmented reality” mural. 

The $21 million renovation “is a compelling collaboration on the creation of mural art and the application of augmented reality,” the judges wrote. “The interaction with the mural is an act of discovery, and the art is vibrant and engaging.”

• The Columbus firm Rogers Krajnak Architects received a merit award in the “small projects” category for its renovation and expansion of a 3,970-square-foot Victorian Village home.

Jurors called the renovation “a thoughtful transformation of an 1890s Victorian-style home” and praised “the design team for the entrancing merger of historical elements and new spatial interventions.”

• The 8,000-square-foot Molyet Village Community Building, designed by the Columbus firm WSA on Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus, received a merit award in the “large project” category.

Judges called the $2.4 million building, which serves as a student gathering space and events center, “a well-designed, well-proportioned project,” and praised its color and siting in the campus.

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