2013 Inspirations Awards Winners

In partnership with Tandus Flooring, Contract magazine announced the winners of the fifth annual Inspirations Awards at a reception in the Tandus Flooring showroom in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago on Sunday, June 9.  

The awards celebrate socially responsible commercial interior design in two categories: built projects and practice-based initiatives.  The design of the TOMS Shoes headquarters by Shimoda Design Group received a $5,000 grant  in the built project category, while MASS Design Group received a $1,000 grant in the practice category for a doctors' housing facility in Rwanda. Honorable mentions were given to three diverse projects and one practice-based initiative.  

The competition jurors were Michael Bonomo, IIDA, director of corporate interior design for Francis Cauffman; Gary Lee, IIDA, president of Gary Lee Partners; and Rachelle Schoessler Lynn, FASID, senior associate with Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle.   

Built project winner:  

Project: TOMS Shoes  

Where: Playa Vista, California

Designer: Shimoda Design Group

When designing the headquarters for TOMS Shoes, Shimoda Design Group sought to reflect the spirit of the company's core values. The unique business model, in which TOMS donates half of its shoes to those in need, drove the organization of the space and inspired the use of humble and unadorned materials. A philosophy to build only what is needed led to the conservation of materials, such as using only 75 percent of the normal amount of drywall implemented in typical construction. Materials  such as galvanized structural steel, cork board, white board, wood, and concrete were left in  their natural, raw state.

Practice-based initiative winner:  

Project: Partners In Health / Rwanda Ministry  of Health

Where: Butaro, Rwanda

Designer: MASS Design Group

Designed to attract skilled physicians to a new hospital in Rwanda, the Butaro Doctors' Housing was developed as part of a mission to extend healthcare throughout rural communities. Four  two-bedroom duplexes were constructed on a terraced hillside, five minutes away from the hospital, which was also built by MASS Design Group (Contract, October 2011). The duplexes  were constructed using compressed, stabilized earth blocks and bricks fabricated on location.  Local masons, carpenters, and artisans made everything used in the project, creating 900  jobs and furthering knowledge of better  building practices in the region.

Built project honorable mention:

Project: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Where: Pittsburgh

Designer: The Design Alliance Architects

The new, 24,000-square-foot Center for Sustainable Landscapes is one of the world's first buildings that achieves both a LEED Platinum rating and Cascadia Living Building Challenge certification. The building is focused on the region's ecological characteristics, and is designed to be a net-zero energy and net-zero water management facility. The center is also an active laboratory, and research will be done on the performance of the building to help serve as a model for others.  

Built project honorable mention

Project: Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago  

Where: Chicago

Designer: Gensler

The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago has roots that stretch back to 1871, and is now located in one of the most iconic urban settings in the country. Gensler developed new worship and meeting spaces for the congregation of more than 5,500, as well as to serve the community through outreach programs. The five-story structure embraces the church's past while maintaining a forward-looking design. Spaces transform from quiet to loud and from contemplative to exuberant in order to better serve a broad range of users.  


Built project honorable mention

Project: Deni & Jeff Jacobs Challenged Athletes Center

Where: San Diego  

Designer: Colkitt & Co.

In the renovation of the Deni & Jeff Jacobs Challenged Athletes Center, Colkitt & Co.—in collaboration with G/M Business Interiors and Herman Miller—sought to create barrier-free, accessible spaces, both physically and visually. Located in an office park, the once mundane mirrored office building was transformed with  an innovative façade that allows natural light to  pepper the spaces within. The interior is designed for connectivity through openness, allowing for overlap between sports and work areas.  

Practice-based initiative honorable mention  

Project: The Boys and Girls Club of East Dallas  

Where: Dallas

Designer: Gensler  

After working with the Boys and Girls Club of East Dallas to renovate a craft room three years ago, Gensler realized the entire building was in dire need of improvements. The firm made a commitment to renovate the entire space within a two-year time period, with 100 percent of the work, materials, and time donated on a pro-bono basis. In addition to renovations of the bathrooms, kitchen, and attic, the Gensler team is repurposing the alley behind the building to become a learning garden.