Drexel’s URBN Center wins AIA Maryland Award
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Maryland has awarded the MSR-designed Drexel University Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design URBN Center an Excellence in Design Honor Award. The Drexel University URBN Center is one of five projects (out of 105 total submissions) to receive the award. As the award program’s highest honor, AIA Maryland’s Honor Award is reserved for those projects with distinctive character and outstanding merit. It recognizes projects that exemplify excellence in architectural design on all levels of analysis and the highest standards to which AIA members aspire.
A reinvention of a landmark Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (VSBA) decorated shed, the URBN Center provides a new home for Drexel University’s College of Media Arts and Design (CoMAD). Although the building is not protected by any preservation guidelines, MSR’s designers understood the importance of honoring this early example of modern mannerism in the design of the adaptive reuse. Key goals driving the project include bringing disparate CoMAD departments (including architecture and interior design, digital media, entertainment and arts enterprises, fashion design and merchandising, graphic design, and product design) together in one location and encouraging cross-collaboration between disciplines. To both meet the client’s goals and honor VSBA’s decorated shed, the design concept focuses on respecting the original intent, making more with less, offering adaptable spaces for learning, and providing opportunities for learning through presentation.
“We recognize the challenge of working within an existing shell in general, and an iconic shell in particular,” the jury explained. “The insertion of the stair/atrium activates the interior, while serving as both stage and proscenium, which connects various parts of the program physically and visually. The exposed steel serves as a scaffold that allows all of the disciplines to complete the space.”
About AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Awards
The AIA Maryland Design Awards program recognizes excellence in architectural design by AIA Maryland architects worldwide and for AIA member work in Maryland. A distinguished jury of AIA architects judges built and unbuilt projects, submitted by AIA members, based on their merit. The annual AIA Maryland Design Awards program provides member architects with an avenue for peer recognition and honors the architects, clients, and consultants who work together to improve the built environment. With this program, AIA Maryland hopes to encourage and recognize distinguished architectural achievement and raise public consciousness of the architect’s role in shaping the quality of life through design excellence in the community.