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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2014 / 07 

Undergraduate architecture studio project wins 2014 AZURE award

July 23, 2014

The Masonic Amphitheater and adjacent pedestrian bridge over a creek shown at night.
The Masonic Amphitheater and pedestrian bridge in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

Over the course of two academic years, students in the two-semester, third-year architecture course “design/buildLAB” have transformed a post-industrial brownfield into the public Smith Creek Park in the Clifton Forge, Va. Their work has garnered another accolade to add to the design/buildLAB’s list of honors.

Canadian architecture and design magazine AZURE announced that the Clifton Forge Smith Creek Park project, including the Masonic Amphitheatre and pedestrian bridge, is a winner in this year's international AZ Awards. The winners are published in the July/August issue.

From 652 submissions submitted from 36 countries, 13 winners were selected in the fourth annual AZ Awards, an international competition honoring excellence in design and architecture. AZURE is Canada's leading contemporary design magazine and can be found on newsstands across Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

According to the magazine’s official announcement, “The AZ Awards are one of a kind: the only international, multi-disciplinary design competition in Canada. Representing a global snapshot of the world of architecture and design, submissions were open to designers, architects, firms and manufacturers of all disciplines, as well as students in these fields.”

The international jury included designer Ron Arad of Ron Arad Associates in London, England; interior designer Diego Burdi of Burdifilek in Toronto, Canada; retailer Jamie Gray of Matter boutique in New York, New York; Patricia Patkau of Patkau Architecture in Vancouver, Canada; and landscape architecture chair Charles Waldheim of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Smith Creek Park project took place over two successive academic years. Each year, a group of third-year architecture students worked with the local community to design solutions and then built the final structures. 

The first project in the Smith Creek area, designed and built in 2011-12, was the Masonic Amphitheater, which features a curving, sculptural form emerging from the landscape of the park that provides a public performance venue. The second phase, completed the following year, was the addition of a pedestrian bridge, park space, and creek access.

Following the completion of work on the Smith Creek Park, work in Clifton Forge has continued for the design/buildLAB. The students enrolled for 2013-14 recently put the finishing touches on a field house, including concessions and restrooms, for the Clifton Forge Little League.

This award is part of the continuing success of the design/buildLAB. The first phase of the Smith Creek Park — the Masonic Amphitheater — was named American-Architects Building of the Year 2012 and was awarded Popular Choice in the Architecture + Urban Transformation category of the 2014 Architizer A+ Awards. 

The faculty leading the course, Keith and Marie Zawistowski have also been recognized for their work with the program, receiving a national Design Build Award from the Associate of Collegiate School of Architecture, and the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects’ 2011 Award for Excellence in Architecture

The Zawistowskis and the design/buildLAB were also listed among the Public Interest Design 100.



Photos: Students build amphitheater for Clifton Forge community