2020 Design Awards

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Design Award Winner
casa saudade
PLAN Architectural Studio, PC

Merit Award Winner
Thomas Tischer Visitor Center - Eastman Museum
Flynn Battaglia Architects

Citation Award Winner
PLAN Architectural Studio, PC

Citation Award Winner
SHELTER...     (in)PLACE
In.Site: Architecture

Community Impact Winner
UR Strong Memorial Hospital Surge Tent
Dwyer Architectural

Designers Unleashed Winner
FlexPods: Flexible Living Modules
SWBR Team 2: Alli DiGiacomo, Caitlin Ellis, Kris Sambor,
Erik Reynolds, Shirah Kasango Cahill, Ryan Zegarelli

People's Choice Award
RIT Global Cybersecurity Institute
LaBella Associates


Gold Sponsors

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Bronze Sponsors


Production Sponsor
EG Sackett

2021 People's Choice Award
The 2021 People's Choice Award raised $576 for
Open Door Mission.

Thank you so much for your generosity! 

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Video and livestream of the Design Awards Show presented by Veggie Garden Films.

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Watch the recording of our live 2021 Design Awards Show


Explore all of our top 2021 contenders!


Design Award Winner


Located in the agrarian countryside south of Rochester, NY, the former Mendon Pony Club, with its remaining 1930s vintage horse barn and equipment shed, sat idle (and horseless) for decades. The new owners envisioned a farmette with an immersive visual connection to the surrounding pastures, their horses, and with nature.


Because the horse barn was laid out to accommodate equine stalls, hay storage and a tack room, it was decided to adapt the adjacent equipment shed into a residence. The five-bay structure with sliding barn doors and dirt floor had been used to park tractors and store farm equipment. It was built into the side of a hill that sloped south to former pastures and on to woods.


The design strategy was to ‘lift’ the barn doors up to create a strategic canopy to cover a new patio and offer the opportunity for a 65-foot long south facing window wall. The canopy was conceived based upon passive-solar principles. Its configuration lets sunlight permeate the residence in the winter, shades it in the summer, provides rain and snow cover, and allows western breezes to pass through. The original barn door windows remained in place, were covered with transparent corrugated roofing, and transformed into skylights.

The floor plan is open with all primary functions on one level. A new concrete floor slab with integral radiant heat was poured. The roof structure was painted white, and due to its height, afforded a loft space on each end. Shed dormers were added for additional head clearance, to bring in light and to provide views. The center space was left open to experience the volume and to accommodate a great room. A simple concrete block mass serves to divide the space and provide the hearth for a wood burning fireplace. A central bifold bay of windows enhances circulation flow and reinforces the connection of inside and outside.


Upgrades to the site included new pasture fencing, new utilities and gravel drives, and an array of solar panels that were installed on the south side of the horse barn roof enabling energy conservation.


An important selling point to the local municipality was how the project stealthily fit a new residence into underutilized existing farm structures. From the road, on the north side, the property remains virtually the same and continues to contribute to the area’s bucolic past.


‘Saudade’, a Portuguese term to describe the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia, was the theme of this project and pays homage to the owners’ animal-loving fathers. The result is a place that allows for animals and humans to seamlessly commune.

Sound on!

Owner: Amy Lopez

Contractor: Silverado Remodeling

Photography: Tim Wilkes Photography

Merit Award Winner


Thomas Tischer Visitor Center - Eastman Museum
Flynn Battaglia Architects

The project consisted of creating a Visitor Orientation Center for a historically significant house museum. Prior to the project, the facility had incrementally evolved over many decades leaving a circuitous and inefficient circulation system, multiple floor levels and the main entrance distant from the visitor parking. Site topographic conditions were equally challenging with a gently sloping property with stairs facing visitors at all entrances points.


Our overall given program goal was to centralize circulation at one point, adjacent to parking, serving staff and all visitors with admissions and visitor amenities including an enhanced café and gift shop. Another objective was connection of the two main theatre spaces with this new lobby creating a focused hub of all museum activities.


The design for the new Visitor Center was conceived of as a lighted “vitrine” atrium carefully preserving the historic fabric of the original residence, situated midway between the house and the museum. The atrium accomplished several technical and program goals, not only weaving numerous site and floor level changes into an imperceptibly sloping continuous floor level, but also creating a visually distinct, iconic entrance point for all museum activities. Housing the main admission desk, security and reception space, this space allows immediate access to the existing Theatre, the new concourse, bookstore and café, orienting visitors to the museum and tours of the house.


A significant site feature of the new facility is the Colorama, a framework for the display of large-scale images originally created as transparencies for Grand Central Terminal in New York. This feature creates an interesting frame for the newly landscaped courtyard/drop-off area with the added benefit of screening the existing cooling towers.

Sound on!

Owner: George Eastman Museum

Contractor: The Pike Company, Inc.

Structural Engineer: Siracuse Engineers

M/E/P Engineer: Pathfinder Engineers & Architects LLP

Landscape Architect: Bayer Landscape Architecture

Photography: George Eastman Museum

Flynn Battaglia Project Team: Christopher Less, AIA; Michael Lennon, RA; Megan Brooks; Michael Meyer; Nancy Redeye; Lauren Kaufmann

Citation Award Winner


Jen and Phil dreamed of a house to serve as a generational gathering place for their family. They envisioned a new atmosphere that reflected their unique personalities and was rich with history. Jen’s strong sense of simple design and Phil’s New York State roots led them to a structure that once served as a hay barn in rural area near Schenectady, NY. They decided that the dismantled frame of this old barn, an early 19th Century heavy timber structure, was destined for resurrection 500 miles away on a wooded lot in Hudson, Ohio. Its skeletal frame would be transplanted, and their house would be built around it.


With such a clear vision outlined by the clients, the architect’s role was to carefully navigate the design process, and surgically graft this frame into its new environment. The primary goals expressed by the client were to: re-assemble the frame as close as possible to its original form, clearly express and celebrate the heavy timber members, and create the soaring volumetric feeling of a barn. Obviously, there were very specific programmatic requirements, and much effort was spent to ensure functionality while maintaining the purity of Phil and Jen’s overarching design criteria.


The design solution started with the siting of the structure. Influenced by traditional bank barns, the ground floor was set below grade and constructed of masonry, rooting its foundation into the earth. This move provided visual screening from the street, created a stealth garage entrance on the west, and established a private exterior patio and yard extending to the east. Lowering the structure also helped to scale down the massing of the three-level house. The east-west orientation allows eastern sun to permeate the great room in the morning and places the main entrance on the south elevation, to formally address the street.

As one approaches, the simplicity of the gable form is expressed, while the heavy timber skeleton is subtly revealed. Intentionally, the framing members run behind the large windows, so they can be experienced from the exterior. At the recessed entry alcove, an exposed beam runs directly above head suggesting a final hint to visitors of its internal structure.


The entrance leads into a foyer where you can pause, take in the scale of the atrium, and appreciate the hemlock barn framing. Set inboard from the building’s shell, constructed of structural insulated panels painted white, the frame is introduced in contrast. Emulating the experience of entering a barn, the simple and unassuming exterior gives way to an expansive almost chapel-like interior volume. The straight-forward plan is arranged with the primary circulation centrally-oriented, flanked by private rooms to the west, and common spaces to the east. This allows visibility and connection via the 35-foot-high atrium as one moves horizontally through open foyers, and vertically on the ornamental stair. Between the second and third levels, an informal office loft projects out over the main fireplace hearth. The ground level great room includes the kitchen, dining, and living areas, flowing out to a covered patio and the yard through full-width bi-fold doors.


Like any unique construction project, especially one that involves transplanting a historic barn frame into a new context, the project was logistically challenging. However, this residence is now poised for longevity, in a new environment, and a new century, as a family gathering hub for years to come.

Sound on!

Owners: Phil & Jen Lopez

Structural Engineer: Torchia Structural Engineering & Design PC

Timber Frame Structural: Fire Tower Engineered Timber

Civil Engineer: Artman Engineering

Interior Design: Jen Lopez Design

Contractor: Metis Construction Services

Photographer: Tim Wilkes Photography

Citation Award Winner


In.Site: Architecture

An unbroken Roof

Reaches out long and barn-like,

A Finger pointing.


Our rural practice, situated where cows outnumber people, embraces an agricultural ethic. We aim to master three lessons from farmers:

• SITING. Like the modern barn, place-based structures belong because they serve - and are in equilibrium with - the land that nourishes them.

• SCALE. A modern barn is sublime and its scale is in measure with the working landscape it inhabits.

• ECONOMY. Ingenuity underscores a lack of pretension. Simple forms suited for climate and purpose.

Here, on fallow Finger Lakes fields, our clients aim to create a dwelling… that fits.


This house is not a barn. However, it will be surrounded by a cultivated landscape that is squarely within the cultural, geographic, and historic context of barns.

Heeding the above lessons, the design begins with a linear, roofed form, sited to minimize disruption of the field.


This “line in the landscape” accomplishes several things:

• At its east end it greets visitors. Pulling away the garage permits a roofed zen entry garden between, plus shaded outdoor living spaces that frame the landscape.

• Along its south facade its transparency and length permits communion with the dark forest across the pond.

• Its west end culminates one story above the sloping terrain with indoor/outdoor living space aimed at the view.


All the above could result in a house that looks much like a freestall barn, but for several small changes.


Passive solar principles compel us to pivot the south wall 15 degrees east — while the the western facade is pulled deeply behind the roof and seasonal shade sails — to protect against summer afternoon’s low rays. The “pivot” also slims down the house at its entry, shedding unnecessary square footage. The result? All shared living spaces occupy a multi-level room that grows in width and height as one proceeds along that “line in the landscape.”


In the end, this single roof — inspired by farm buildings, and chiseled, angled, and stretched by function — amplifies and refines its role as Shelter in this rural Place.

Sound on!

(Unbuilt Project)

Client: The Shaws

Photography: James Reynolds

In.Site Project Team: Rick Hauser - Principal + lead design; Ali Yapicioglu - Partner + Project support; Kimberly Kraft - Project Architect; Kurt Schnarr - Project Designer; Nicole Martin - Project Architect; Larissa Reynolds - Downtowns Designer; James Reynolds - Downtowns Designer

Community Impact Winner


UR Strong Memorial Surge Tent
Dwyer Architectural

This unique project was delivered in a design-build method to meet the client’s aggressive 5 month schedule. The project’s goals were to build a structure with enough capacity to relieve an overcrowded Emergency Department, allow for new social distancing in preparation for an anticipated Fall COVID surge and could be rebuilt for any future emergencies. Most important, the patient experience was to be considered as Dwyer assisted in preliminary research and programming. With the threat of winter and the elements, several temporary structures were eliminated that could not provide a sound and clean environment for patient care.


LeChase Construction was brought on board to lead the construction of the selected 3,200 SF Sprung Structure. Close coordination with engineering teams helped determine the optimal location of the tent within the existing busy Emergency Department parking lot. In addition to rethinking and rerouting patient and ambulance traffic, the team had to adjust to accommodate a significant change in grade. A concrete foundation and slab were built to provide a level structure. Handicap accessible ramps between the tent and both the Emergency Department main entrance and EMS entrances were constructed and covered with a canopy system to protect the ramps during inclement weather.


The resulting structure includes 28 patient bays, a nurse work area and support spaces. Keeping in step with the aggressive schedule, the design team researched and selected durable healthcare materials that could be ordered and installed quickly and still maintain infection control guidelines. Prefinished drywall was specified for a quick assembly, yet appealing and safe finish for the interior walls. The spacious interior features heating and cooling systems, automatic doors and power and data sources for optimal patient care. From inception to occupancy, this project was completed in 5 months, on time, and within budget.

Sound on!

Client: UR Medicine

Contractor: LeChase Construction

Consultant: M/E Engineering, P.C.

Consultant: Jensen/BRV Engineering, PLLC

Consultant: Passero Associates

Photography: Dwyer Staff Photographer & LeChase Construction Staff Photographer, as noted

Project Team: The Dwyer Architectural team includes Associate, Kristin Merle, AIA NCARB and designer, Kurt Kruse. Kristin and Kurt were an integral part of this design and have been practicing architecture respectively 19 and 7 years, primarily in the healthcare market. Considering this was a unique healthcare project delivered in a very fast paced design-build method, we feel it necessary to mention our extended team. This project was a success because of the work and collaboration of many companies and the professionals. We give credit to Tim Harris of Passero Associates, Craig Mott of M/E Engineering. Darren Brookes, PE of Jensen/BRV Engineering PLLS and special thanks to Mark Schwartz, CHFM, CHC of the University of Rochester Medical Center and Steve Corletta, LEED AP of LeChase Construction as additional team members.

Designers Unleashed Winner


FlexPods: Flexible Living Modules
SWBR Team 2

Rochester has made a name for itself through its year-round festivals. From the well-known Lilac Festival to the recently incepted Fringe Festival, Rochesterians have learned how to maximize the warm seasons out of necessity. Our expertise in hosting festivals draws over 100,000 people each festival. Attendees may retire to one of the area's hotels, rentals or return home. What if you want to stay where the action is?   


FlexPods services the festival crowds and focuses on two primary goals: Flexibility and Identity. FlexPods can be adapted into various configurations not only to address number of occupants, but also weather, privacy, security and fun! The FlexPod unit is an easily transportable and lightweight 7'-0" cube with a solid ‘utility wall’ panel on one end that includes built-in lighting, roof downspouts, a storage closet, and a murphy bed. With the bed stored away, the entire FlexPod becomes an open living space. There are limitless ways to combine units, open walls, create shade, block or invite summer winds through the use of privacy shades, glass, solid walls and more. FlexPods can be deployed in a variety of applications. Not only can they create temporary communities for festivals, but they can also be used in federal emergency situations, as shelter for the homeless, and for farmers markets. FlexPods are easy to reconfigure, creating various conditions with a single unit. The site diagrams demonstrate how units create clusters with varying experiences. The space created between FlexPods becomes even more interesting than the unit itself. The design's focus was not on flashy forms, but about place-making and enhancing experience.   


FlexPods also focus on identity. Each unit has its own unique color and pattern. Identity is especially important while providing shelter for homeless residents. The colors and patterns enhance the festival aesthetic and aid in wayfinding. Units can also be sponsored and branded by local companies to generate revenue. 


FlexPods conveniently fit on a standard parking space, easily conforming to any open lot. Once unloaded, let the end users customize their experience. The configurations are endless!  

Sound on!

SWBR Team 2:  Alli DiGiacomo, Caitlin Ellis, Kris Sambor, & Erik Reynolds

2021 People's Choice Award


RIT Global Cybersecurity Institute
LaBella Associates

The 2021 People's Choice Award raised $576 towards for Open Door Mission.
Thank you so much for your generosity! 

Through the fusion of technology, business, and design, the new Cybersecurity Institute will lead the charge in the education and research in the cybersecurity field. Situated in the center of the campus, this building transforms a campus void into a gateway into the world of cybersecurity. At three stories and over 50,000 sf, the institute is home to classrooms, instructional and research labs, simulation and training rooms, collaboration and community spaces, and faculty offices. This facility will have a major role in hosting special events while showcasing the institute’s research and technology.


Situated at the core of facility is the Cybersecurity Range or CSR. A space which seamlessly blurs the line between education and reality, the CSR provides its students with a realistic stage for collaboration and problem solving in a high pressure environment. Featuring custom displays, millwork, AV theatrics, and unlimited virtual connectivity, this simulated learning environment creates a dynamic atmosphere which can be altered to intensify a scripted exercise.


The design parti challenges preconceptions of cybersecurity as a mysterious profession of hackers and secretive government agencies. The dark exterior envelope embraces the stereotype, which is contrasted with the transparent south façade and bright interior color palette designed to invite curiosity. As a recurring theme, binary coding can be found throughout the design in both the literal and figurative usage, which can be discovered by inquisitive occupants. A binary pattern, translating to “[Campus]”, appears on glazing surfaces, scaled and arranged to optimize sun shading and privacy. Lighting fixtures in each of the three main corridors are arranged in eight digit sequences spelling out one letter per floor; as you move up through the building. Similarly, the signage at the entrance translates into an inspirational quote, framing the industry experience they seek to gain.

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Owner: Rochester Institute of Technology

Contractor: LeChase Construction

Civil/Landscape Architecture: EDR - A Better Environment

Photography: Gene Avallone Park Avenue Photo & Don Cochran

LaBella Project Team: Jerry DeRomanis, AIA - Project Manager; Michael Place, AIA - Project Architect; Meghan Thomas - Project Designer; Danielle Lewis, CID - Interior Designer; Monica Simmons, PE - Sr Structural Engineer; Josh Lawrence - Structural Engineer; Jeff Davis, PE - Lead Mechanical Engineer; Rob Czerkas, PE - Sr Mechanical Engineer; Kevin Boardway - Mechanical Engineer; Nate Fox - Mechanical Engineer; Chuck Lind, PE - Sr Electrical Engineer; Kennan Buzyniski - Electrical Engineer

Video and livestream of the Design Awards Show presented by Veggie Garden Films.


All 2021 Awards Contenders

Renovate Townsend Hall

West Street Apartments
PLAN Architectural Studio, PC

Churchville-Chili CSD
Aquatics Facility

SEI Design Group

Upper Falls Square

J Dutchess Co Law Enforcement LaBella -

Dutchess County Law
Enforcement Center

LaBella Associates

Charlotte Square

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Livonia CSD Performing
Arts Center

HUNT Engineers, Architects & Surveyors

SUNY Broome Community College Culinary Arts & Events Center 
Passero Associates

Girne City Hall
In.Site: Architecture

UR Strong Memorial Hospital Surge Tent
Dwyer Architectural

Thomas Tischer Visitor Center - Eastman Museum
Flynn Battaglia Architects

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In.Site: Architecture

Behind the Scenes

A very special thank you to our Design Awards Committee who has been planning and producing the show since November of last year!


Design Awards Committee Chair: Michael Trapanovski, AIA, AIA Rochester Director of Practice + Design

Committee: Andrew Petrosky, AIA; Jennifer Takatch, AIA; Christina Fluman; Lisa Fingar; Michelle Murnane, AIA; Alessia Randazzo; Danielle Rupert, AIA; Germania Garzon, Associate AIA; Linda Hewitt, Hon. AIANYS