10 Best Architect’s Choice Houses This Year

What makes a house award-worthy?Each year, the American Institute of Architects recognizes some of the best housing designs from across the country.

Katherine Williams, an architect based in Northern Virginia, served as this year’s jury chair and worked with a panel of four other experts in the field to judge the more than 100 entries submitted for 2017.

The awards fall into four categories: One/Two Family Custom Housing, One/Two Family Production Housing, Multifamily Housing and Special Housing.

The Production Housing category — which covers multiple homes built from the same set of plans with (maybe) a few modifications, like most homes in the U.S. — didn’t have any winners last year due to a lack of entries, but this year’s contest had incentives for more entries, Williams said.

“We feel it’s an important category, and we don’t want [architects] to think [the contest] is all custom homes,” Williams said. “We feel that it’s important to highlight good design that’s happening there.”

The jurors focused less on style — for example, traditional or modern — and more on innovation in the design and how the homes fit the residents’ needs and the demands of the environment in which they were built, Williams said.

“We want to see good design that fulfills the use the client has expressed, and there’s lots of ways to do that,” she said. “People are also thinking about the use of water, energy and how the buildings are placed on the site. We look at how they think about and how they’re addressing those issues.”

This year’s winners are spread from New York to Los Angeles and range from isolated mountain retreats to gleaming city skyscrapers.

1. Blue Lake Retreat in Marble Falls, Texas

Designed by Lake | Flato Architects, this home was honored in the One/Two Family Custom Housing category. The three-story structure sits perched on a hill above a lake, with the third floor rising above the surrounding treetops for panoramic views.


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