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American Institute of Architects Santa Barbara Fetes 2017 Design Award Winners

Architect Brian Cearnal of the Cearnal Collective receives the Lutah Maria Riggs President Award for Lifetime Achievement


The American Institute of Architects Santa Barbara recently hosted its 2017 Design Awards Gala at the holiday-decorated University Club.

The event honored the achievements of local architects and architecture, and drew attention to the legacy of great architecture in Santa Barbara and the value of quality design to the community and those who contributed to its creation.

More than 120 guests supported the event, which featured a social hour, a buffet dinner and an awards program at the downtown club venue.

Sponsors included Arcadia Studio, DD Ford Construction, American Riviera Bank, Ann Kale Lighting, Lucifer Lighting, Ensberg Jacobs Design Inc., Allen Construction, CJM:: LA, Kitchell Custom Homes, Insulate, Brighten Solar, Shannon Scott Design, Schmidt Construction, RRM Design Group, DMHA Architecture and others.

Last awarded in 1988, the Lutah Maria Riggs President Award for Lifetime Achievement of a Santa Barbara architect was presented by longtime Santa Barbara architect and past AIA board president Bill Mahan. Veteran architect Brian Cearnal and the Cearnal Collective received this historic tribute that recognizes an AIA Santa Barbara member or firm whose work, community service and civic engagement have had a lasting influence for the betterment of Santa Barbara’s built environment.

Recipients must have a body of distinguished architectural design and a history of advocacy for community architectural engagement in the area. The award was determined by past AIA presidents.

Cearnal, founding partner of the Cearnal Collective architectural firm, has been an integral part of the Santa Barbara architectural community since 1980, demonstrating consistently throughout this time a strong dedication to beautiful and significant architecture.

Cearnal told the crowd the funny story about coming to Santa Barbara in 1980 for a blind date — who didn’t show up. However, he ran into a fellow Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo grad and architect Mark Kirkhart during that visit, which resulted in him moving to Santa Barbara two weeks later to work with Kirkhart.

Incoming AIA board president Keith Rivera with Executive Director Tara Rizzi.
Incoming AIA board president Keith Rivera with Executive Director Tara Rizzi. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

“How grateful I was. That a woman I never met changed my life forever,” he said.

Cearnal told Noozhawk, “None of my buildings could have happened without the collaboration of many people; doing good architecture is always a collective effort and never the result of just one individual. We, as architects, are so lucky to do what we do and have buildings built that outlive us.”

The other awardees were selected from entries from 60 licensed architects in the greater Santa Barbara area. Distinguished jurors included John Burgee, FAIA, of Santa Barbara; Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, of Fayetteville, Ark.; and Tom Fowler of Cal Poly.

An honorable mention award for commercial, mixed-use and multifamily was presented to MOXI Museum by AB Design, accepted by Clay Aurell and Josh Blumer.

“The MOXI design is exuberant,” juror Marlon Blackwell said. “It feels like it is inspired by a sandcastle, which is the first piece of art that a child sees or creates. It looks like a fun place to learn something.”

Also garnering an honorable mention was Blackbird Architects for the Live Oak Bathhouse, accepted by Ken Radtkey. A merit award was presented to Ferguson-Ettinger Architects, accepted by Brett Ettinger, for the residential project Teahouse. The Santa Barbara Architectural Heritage Awards went to Thomas Bollay Architects for Casa del Arroz, and DMHA Architecture and Interior Design, accepted by Michael Holliday and Ryan Mills, for 1100 Santa Barbara St.

Click here for more information about AIA Santa Barbara, or call Executive Director Tara Rizzi at 805.966.4198.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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