Portland Spaces magazine has announced a new set of design and architecture awards, called the "Root Awards: Portland Design from the Ground Up." Awards will be given out in more than 20 categories, including single family homes, individual rooms, commercial offices and restaurant interiors. The winners will be featured in the magazine's November/December issue this fall.
Root Awards nicely conveys a sense of permanence and ties to the past for a brand new magazine's brand new awards. Perhaps they could give individual names to awards like The Carrot for Lifetime Achievement, or the Turnip for Best New Architect.
Editor Randy Gragg and company have put together an accomplished four-person jury: Karrie Jacobs, founder of Dwell magazine and architecture/urban planning critic for New York magazine, the New York Times, and Metropolis; Katherine Lambert - leading advocate of ecological design, founding principal of Metropolitan Architectural Practice, and chair of interior design and professor of visual studies at the California College of the Arts; and Iris Harrell - president and founder of Harrell Remodeling in San Francisco. I would imagine Randy having some say as well, although that's only conjecture; however I do like the idea of one juror in the quartet (or quintet) being from here and having a strong sense of Portland. But perhaps there's also more integrity in having a jury entirely from outof towners looking at it fresh. That's how the AIA has always done their annual design awards.
The competition is open for submissions now to July 14, 2008. Submitting is easy: send Portland Spaces a 500-word description of the project, up to eight high-resolution images, and a $50 fee per entry (with discounts for early and/or multiple submissions). The entry form and complete instructions are available at www.portlandspaces.net/designawards.
Nominations also will be accepted in four special categories: The Masters; Rising Stars; Portland, World (for exported design); and Sustainability. I think these are particularly interesting and fun. Who do people naturally see as Portland's masters, rising stars, and sustainability gurus? I of course have my own preferences and opinions, but I'd be curious to here somebody else's out there. Maybe some of my own ideas about people in these categories is knee-jerk stuff. Design a cool retro diner and you're a rising star, an impressive big public building and you're a master. Add oil, vinegar and salt to taste. It'll be interesting to see another set of awards articulate the successes out there, and possibly in a slightly different pecking order. Hopefully there will be room for both this and the AIA awards. Why shouldn't there be?
In addition to celebrating the incredible design work being produced in the Portland metro area, the Root Awards will benefit a new college scholarship fund that will provide cash awards to top local students in the fields of design and construction. That may be the best part of this whole thing.