Wright and Robinson Architects win the Silver Award at the 2017 American Institute of Architects, Newark and Suburban Architects, AIA-NS, Design Award competition for their Glen Ridge Community Pool House project.
Architects from across our area submitted their best and most impressive works for peer review at the annual AIA-NS Design Award contest held September 14th, 2017. This year’s event was held on the campus of Kean University in Union, New Jersey home of to the Michael Graves School of Architecture.
The award-winning design team of Karin Robinson and Mark Wright of Wright and Robinson Architects in Glen Ridge New Jersey continue to be honored by their peers. Their Community Pool House project located in Glen Ridge, New Jersey is just the most recent project to be honored with the Silver Award in the ‘Built Non-Residential’ category by a jury of their peers.
While Glen Ridge, New Jersey is already home to one nationally recognized structure, the Stuart Richardson House built in 1941 by Frank Lloyd Wright, the proud community can now boast that their community pool house has been similarly recognized. The Wright and Robinson Pool House has been recognized for its choice of materials, style, proportions, and the architect’s ability to fit the project into the landscape and incorporate the needs of the users.
Former two-term Mayor Peter Hughes of Glen Ridge, who was in office when the Community Pool House was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 19, 2015, commented on the structure, saying “There is a lot to say on this. Most important is that the new buildings designed by Wright and Robinson Architects, a Glen Ridge firm, finally gives us a pool house complex that we can all be proud of. The new complex fits in very well on the site, is very attractive and meets the needs of users and managers.”
Former AIA-NS President Stephen P. Rooney AIA, who was president of the AIA-NS when the project was dedicated in 2015 added, “The Glen Ridge Pool House is an excellent example of how a licensed architect took the programming from the client and interpreted it into a delightful place that incorporates the needs of the pool but also included design details such as an elevated pool deck that overlooks the pool and provides impromptu bleachers. The entire project is accessible for those requiring ramps and larger doorways, but also it incorporates some little delights in how the cedar siding is applied and how the roof gutters complement the roof and the siding.”
Mark Wright shared with us the graphical presentation they entered into the contest and took a moment to share with us his vision and experience on this project. We found Mr. Wright to be a humble, soft-spoken but experienced professional. His 35 years of experience has earned him honors from major institutions and accolades from partners and clients alike. After three decades of projects, Mr. Wright prefers clients who will value and respect his intuition and his eye for what is, what should be and what will be.
When asked about the prestige of winning the AIA-NS Silver award and what it means for him personally and his firm his response was in character. “It is always gratifying to see our labor recognized in this way, but these awards are really as much for the client and the builder as they are for the design architect. This has very little to do with the budget, incidentally. A great client expects to go on a journey of discovery with a thoughtful architect—rather than dictating a solution.”
This award is noteworthy and close to home so the recognition is heartfelt. This award is just the latest in a long list of awards dating back 35 years. We asked what the secret is to this remarkable run of recognition.”Our experience of the built world is broad and deep, and our long apprenticeships with Kliment Halsband and Kevin Lichten taught us how good work gets done. Each of us brings everything we have to bear on every project, no matter its size, and we trust that if we do the work as well as we can, there will always be more. Stamina is important.”
Clearly, Mr. Wright carries himself well and presents a sharp, crisp personal presentation with his bowtie and summer suit that belies his decades of experience. We asked if this pool house and its materials have similarly settled into its own after two years of weather and public use. “We understand our materials and like to design so that if nature is allowed to do as nature does, our building will only look better over time. The pool house complex will really look its best in another ten or twenty years when the weathered shingles will have attained the variegated coloration of a Kodiak bear: a little bleached perhaps at the skirt, but dominated by russets, browns, blacks, and grays. Maybe a few speckles of mossy green here and there to complement the “park service green” trim and the foliage of the embankment. The longer the club can bear to leave them alone, the longer the buildings will last and the better they will look to us.”
Editor’s Note: I extended the opportunity to comment on this award to the current president of the AIA-NS but he declined, stating our article, even though it would run fully two weeks after the event, would proceed their own press release and his desire to serve all his members and honorees above the individual and therefore declined to comment on Mr. Wright’s award. I feel this was not a presidential move on his part. This falls into the category of criticism that “Not everyone will be a winner”. When the president is given the opportunity to trumpet the success of the individual ahead of the group he should have seized the day lest he and his presidency shall be relegated to a marginal footnote in history.