APLA Faculty Named Finalists in AIA Chicago’s Design Excellence Awards

Susan's House

Xavier Vendrell and Mary English, faculty members in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (APLA), have been named finalists in the XS (extra small) category of AIA Chicago’s Design Excellence Awards.

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AIA Chicago, the second largest local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, will announce the winner of the awards at its Designnight 2023 event on September 28.

The Design Excellence Awards honor the outstanding work of AIA Chicago members and their firms and highlight members’ contributions to designing equitable and sustainable spaces. Vendrell and English, both practicing architects in Chicago, designed their entry “Susan’s House” for a client in the historic neighborhood of Lavaca in San Antonio, Texas. Vendrell and English were required to adhere to historic design guidelines that require a front porch and specific roof profiles, window proportions and materials, but they still wanted to provide the family of four with exterior space that is protected, shaded and private in a compact neighborhood where houses are just ten feet apart. “It was important to us to design a house in which Susan and her family could live the way they wanted to live but at the same time the house fits into the neighborhood,” Vendrell explained.

Their 1,970-square foot design, which lies on just a quarter-acre lot, features five gabled forms with three outdoor courtyards that allow for daylight and layered transparencies. The views across the public core of the house make the interior feel large and airy. “We wanted the materials to be neutral and quiet because we were interested in the spatial qualities and sequence of spaces,” English said.

They have received a great deal of recognition for this project, including a SARA California Excellence Award and a SARA New York Excellence Award. They were named finalists for the 2023 FAD Award for Architecture and Interior Design and “Susan’s House” has been published in Architectural Record, Dezeen, Arquitectura Viva and Metalocus.