Redesigning the Design Competition

Good design is being put to a new test as the necessity of attending to the human impact on the environment grows. Yet design competitions by and large have not risen to the task of creating new evaluation standards. The IIDA/Metropolis Smart Environments Awards is filling that gap by recognizing interiors that are not only healthy and sustainable but also good looking and user-friendly. Asking the question “Is your interior intelligent?” the competition is now accepting entries. In its second year, the competition challenges designers to integrate design excellence, human well-being, and sustainability.

The Smart Environments Awards is the brainchild of architect Ken Wilson, principal of the Washington, D.C. based firm Envision, who along with Metropolis editor in chief Susan S. Szenasy developed the competition. Wilson realized that the standards of reward were outdated. “We must recognize that sustainability is an integral part of design excellence and that we can no longer consider projects to be good design if they don’t consider the environment.”

Interior designers have already been taking this message to heart, as evidenced by the strength and diversity of last year’s winners. Jurors Eva Maddox, Jeff Barber, and Neil Frankel looked for the inner beauty of 54 projects and chose six that most embody evolved thinking on good design. Their choices demonstrate the breadth of possibility across the whole spectrum of uses and aesthetics, with winning projects in the fields of residential, office, retail, hospitality, and education. CCS Architecture, for example, impressed the judges by using hickory reclaimed from a nearly 200 year old barn to build and furnish an organic restaurant in San Francisco, while Architectonics made the grade with their recycled bog-wood and integrated high-tech equipment in a sleek glass-walled condo in New York City. Other winners include HOK for their new offices in Toronto; TVS Interiors for the Interface showroom in Atlanta, GA; SOM for the Bank of America building in Charlotte, NC; and Mahlum Architects for the Seminar II classrooms at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.

Szenasy, who will once again moderate the jury proceedings, along with Wilson, is enthusiastic about the 2007 Smart Environments Awards. “Interior designers have an enormous amount of muscle when it comes to creating sustainability in the built environment and Metropolis is committed to recognizing designers who embrace the mission. It was a pleasure to publish our winners’ beautiful, intelligent, environments in our January 2007 issue and we look forward to seeing how the 2007 entries go beyond the glamour shot.”

The 2007 competition promises to build on the momentum started last year. It is open to all interior design and architecture professionals practicing legally in their jurisdictions for projects that were completed after January 1, 2002, regardless of whether or not they have been previously published. Judges include Joe Pettipas, IIDA, IDC, ASID, ISP, LEED AP, HOK Toronto; Shashi Caan, IIDA, The Collective, New York; and Hank Hildebrandt, AIA, IDEC, CIDA, the University of Cincinnati. The deadline for the 2007 Smart Environments Awards is Friday, April 6, 2007 to request a kit, and Friday, April 13, 2007 to submit completed entries. Information about the application can be found at, or contact Heather Jakusz at

Categories: Cities